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George E. Brown, Jr.

Letters from Vardis Fisher, 1954-1968

MSS 169

in Boise State University, Albertsons Library (Boise, Idaho)

Special Collections Department


Dr. George E. Brown, Jr., of Twin Falls, Idaho, was both friend and physician to Vardis Fisher. Born in Miles City, Montana, on March 24, 1913, he received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Michigan. Brown was Vardis Fisher’s physician in the early 1950s, until he left Idaho to accept an appointment as assistant professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati, a position he held from 1957 until 1960. When he returned to Idaho, he and Vardis Fisher resumed their medical and social relationship, which lasted until Fisher’s death in 1968. 

Dr. Brown presented this collection of 46 letters and postcards to Boise State University in 1986. Most of them were written by Fisher. Because Twin Falls was a long distance call from Fisher’s home in Hagerman, Fisher communicated with Dr. Brown via the U.S. mail. While the subject matter of the letters is mainly medical, Fisher includes references to his literary work. It is apparent from the letters that Brown read Fisher’s books and discussed them with him, though Fisher chided him, "As a literary critic, you are as big a bum as I am a doctor..." (November 5, 1965). The letters also reveal that Brown and his wife Martha occasionally exchanged visits with Vardis and Opal Fisher.

A notable document in the collection is a personal medical history Fisher compiled for Brown in 1961. In more than one letter Fisher freely discussed his drinking habits, reporting both his periods of abstinence and his binges. In 1967 he wrote:

"Alcohol is one of my best friends: it is the only thing I have that enables
me to discharge for a few hours my bottled up hostilities and frustrations.... In younger years I was able to release these pressures by rapidly climbing a tall mountain, or by putting on boxing gloves....One of my favorite books is by a medical man called Alcohol: the Friend of Man. He means, of course, in all the civilized ways it serves us." (April 9, 1967)

Photocopies of the letters and postcards presented by Dr. Brown to the Boise State University Library are assembled in a binder in chronological order. Originals are available for consultation if necessary.

Dr. Brown died in Boise, Idaho, on March 23, 2004.


Calendar of Letters and Postcards

MSS 169

All of the letters and postcards from Vardis Fisher to George E. Brown, Jr., were typed; most were signed in a longhand signature, "Vardis." Dates of many of the postcards were derived from the postmarks; some dates (in square brackets [ ]) were inferred from context. All items are one page in length unless otherwise noted.

1954 Oct 10,  VF to Brown

1954 Oct 12 , Brown to VF

1955 Feb 26,  VF to Brown

1957 Apr 15,  VF to Brown

1960 Feb 22 , VF to Dr. Bernard L. Kreilkamp

Medical history (one page)

1961 Mar 1,  VF to Brown; medical history (2 pages)

1961 Mar 15,  VF to Brown

1961 Apr 3,   VF to Brown

1961 Apr 10,  VF to Brown

1961 May 15, VF to Brown

1961 Aug 1, VF to Brown

1961 Aug 18 ,   F to Brown

1961 Dec 6,    Felix Marti-Ibanez (MD Publications) to Brown

1962 Mar 20,  VF to Brown

1963 Apr 25,   VF to Brown

1963 Apr 28 ,  VF to Brown

[1963 Oct]    VF to Brown

1964 Feb 7,  VF to Brown

1964 Apr 11,  VF to Brown

1964 May 5,  VF to Brown

1964 May 9,  VF to Brown

1964 Jun 6,  VF to Brown

1964 Nov 12,  VF to Brown

1965 Nov 1,  VF to Brown

1965 Nov 5,   VF to Brown

1965 Nov 15,  VF to Brown

1965 Nov 16,  VF to Brown

1965 Dec 19,  VF to Brown and his wife Martha ("Marty")

1966 Mar 28,  VF to Brown

1966 May 12 , VF to Brown

1966 Jun 15,  VF to Brown

1966 Jun 18,  VF to Brown ("Dear doctor and friend George")

1966 Aug 8, VF to Brown

1966 Dec 28 , VF to Brown

1967 Feb 27 , VF to Brown

1967 Mar 3,  VF to Brown

[1967 Apr]  Brown to Opal and Vardis Fisher

1967 Apr 9,  VF to Brown

1967 Apr 12 , VF to Brown

[1967 Apr]  VF to Brown

1968 Apr 16, VF to Brown

1968 May 29,  VF to Brown

1968 Jun 2,  VF to Brown

1968 Jun 21,  VF to Brown

undated VF to Brown

undated VF to Brown, enclosing copy of "Orphan With a Gun," a mimeographed

review of Fisher’s books by Andrew Offutt


Collection number: MSS 169
Inclusive dates: 1954-1968
Collection size: 48 items
Processed by: Ralph W. Hansen, 1986

--Alan Virta, 1998

Return to Manuscript List

Biographical information on George E. Brown, Jr., was derived from Biographical Directory of the American College of Physicians (Bowker, 1979).  His obituary was published in theIdaho Statesman on March 26, 2004.

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