The correspondence between Bernard Brouwer and John Fulton

Department of Neurology, Atrium Medical Centre, Heerlen, The Netherlands

In 1933 Bernard Brouwer (1881-1941), first professor of neurology in Amsterdam following the division of the chair for neurology and psychiatry (1923), made his second lecture tour in the USA, invited by the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease in New York. There and at Yale University, he met John Fulton (1899-1960), who had recently assumed the position of professor of physiology (1931), and was working at the same laboratory as J.G. Dusser de Barenne (1885-1940), who had moved from the Netherlands in 1930. Next to clinical neurology, Brouwer had become well known by his clinical-anatomical (central visual pathways, spinal conducting pathways of sensation), experimental neuroanatomical (projection of retinal fibers), and comparative neuroanatomical (on the cerebellum and inferior olive) work at the Central Institute for Brain Research in Amsterdam. At the time, John Fulton, pupil of Sherrington and Cushing, was particularly interested in research of the primate central nervous system.

The correspondence between Brouwer and Fulton, preserved at the Manuscripts and Archives Division of Yale Library1, extends over the years 1930-1949. The first letter (1930) deals with their mutual interest in the optic tracts, in particularly the crossing of fibres in the chiasm. They had already met during the first International Congress of Neurology in Berne in 1931, where they discussed the anatomy of optic tracts. Next to this subject, the correspondence in that year dealt with the crossed and uncrossed pyramidal tracts. During the subsequent years they exchanged books and papers. Brouwer's visit at Yale (1933) was well appreciated as appears from their correspondence as well as from Fulton's diary. Fulton sent several students to Amsterdam, including Margaret Kennard (1899-1976) who visited Amsterdam in order to "receive further neuroanatomical and clinical training of the type that only you can give". She stayed at Brouwer's laboratory for two years (1934/35). The correspondence between Brouwer and Fulton ends in 1949, the year in which Brouwer died and Fulton sent a message of condolence to Mrs. Brouwer.

1John F. Fulton Papers, Box 23, Folder 333

Session VI -- Biographical Issues
Friday, 15 June 2001, 2:00 pm

Sixth Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and
Eighth Meeting of the European Club for the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Cologne, Germany