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Louis Benjamin Sheppard, M.D. papers

Identifier: 86.Nov.14

Scope and Contents

The papers of Dr. L. Ben Sheppard consists of correspondence, organizational records, research and the publications created from his research. This collection focuses on the second half of his life from the early 1950s to 1987. The collection is broken up into three series, and the first series consists of his reminiscences from 1930 to 1983, plus the location of a oral history.

Series two consists of correspondence and organizational records from Dr. Sheppard's different associations. Subseries A. is correspondence to friends, patients and colleagues. These records are in the same alphabetical order Dr. Sheppard left them in. They range from the early 1970's to 1987. Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., George P. Schultz, Paul Trible, and Dr. Peter Pastore are some of the people of note that Dr. Sheppard had correspondences with.Subseries B. contains records from hospitals, medical organizations and associations of Dr. Sheppard's. These records range from the early 1950s to 1987. The files are in alphabetical order using the first word from each file. These records illustrate the different associations Dr. Sheppard had personal as well as professional.

Series three contains his research, and part A. deals with all his ophthalmological research. These files are also alphabetized by the first word on each file. The files contain research data, which is used to develop his publications and lectures. In many files the development of publications and lectures are well documented through notes and rough drafts. One file may contain everything associated with a certain publication. All the illustrations for these have been removed and placed with the originals for preservation purposes. Subseries B. deals with Dr. Sheppard's historical research, and has been divided into three parts. The first part contains his publication on Dr. Peter Mettauer and the research used to develop that publication. The second part has the reprints of Dr. Joseph A. White, which date back to the 1880's to the early 20th century. The third subseries is the development of the history of ophthalmology in Virginia, which Dr. Sheppard never had a chance to complete and publish. It contains many references and biographical sketches of early doctors in the medical history of Virginia. These records could be of great use to anyone doing historical medical research.


  • 1950-1987


Use Restrictions

Copyrights transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University by Deed of Gift November 1986.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. L. Benjamin Sheppard retired from ophthalmology in 1986, after serving the Richmond area for 50 years. He was always very committed to his patients, colleagues, and friends by taking time to visit regularly, call, or write letters. Some of that correspondence may be found in this collection.

Dr. Sheppard was born in Glen Allen, Virginia and raised on a farm. The rural setting gave him an appreciation for nature and taught him about life and death, which would serve him his entire life. He started his education at Glenn Allen Elementary School, and attended John Marshall High School in Richmond, which he commuted to by train.

Dr. Sheppard received his medical degree from the University of Virginia in 1930, and he kept in touch with his classmates by attending reunions. His medical training continued at the Medical College of Virginia from 1930 to 1933. From 1933 to 1935 he received further training at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital in New York City. He spoke very highly in his reminiscences of the Broadway personalities he met while in New York.

Before returning to Richmond to practice medicine, he received a job as ship surgeon on the SS EX ARCH an American passenger and cargo ship. The ship traveled the Mediterranean, stopping in Athens, Constanta, Romania, Malta, and the North African Coast to Casablanca. Once returning to the States Dr. Sheppard received a telegram to return to MCV because he was needed to teach ophthalmology and treat patients. His love for travel and adventure would never end, and he would attend many international conferences over the course of his life.

Dr. Sheppard did considerable work in ophthalmic research, focusing on anatomical and physiological aspects of eye disease. He was especially interested in congenital glaucoma and used buthalmic rabbits which were raised in Bar Harbor, Maine by the Jackson Laboratory. He used these animals to find the exact physical action on the eye caused by glaucoma. He ws one of the found members of the Richmond Eye and Ear Hospital where he undertook some of his research. which he was one of the founding members of the hospital.

Dr. Sheppard had an intense interest in medical history. He applied himself to extended research on the life and medical practice of John Peter Mettauer, of Prince Edward County. Mettauer was one of Virginia's pioneer physicians, and Dr. Sheppard's research on him can be found within the collection. Another historical project Dr. Sheppard was developing was a history of ophthalmology in Virginia. Although this project remains uncompleted it contains allot of research on specific individuals who practiced medicine in Virginia.

Dr. Sheppard had memberships to many medical organizations such as; American Medical Association, Virginia Society of Ophthalmology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Ophthalmological Society, and the Virginia Society for the Prevention of Blindness. He also participated on the staffs of several Richmond hospitals. He was appointed to the Departments of Anatomy and Ophthalmology at the Medical College of Virginia, and he was a board member of the Richmond Eye and Ear Hospital.

His community life involved him in the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. He was a member of the Richmond Rotary Club and presided as president in 1956. He was also a member of the board at the YMCA

Dr. Sheppard lead his life with active determination never slowing till the very end. His research gave much insight to the field of ophthalmology, and his influence directed many students to this field. Dr. Sheppard took pride in being raised in the rural south.


3 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection is organized into three series. Series 1. Reminiscences/Oral History -- Series 2. Correspondence and Organizational Records -- Series 3. Research.

A Guide to the Papers of Louis Benjamin Sheppard, M.D.
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, Health Sciences Library, Virginia Commonwealth University, Collection Number 86/Nov/14
2001 By Copyright Virginia Commonwealth University. All Rights Reserved.
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Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the VCU Health Sciences Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 509 N 12th St
Box 980582
Richmond Virginia 23298 USA US
(804) 828-9898