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Horace E. Campbell papers

Identifier: COU:295

Scope and Contents

Dr. Campbell organized his papers according to subject or name. For example, information about safety belts can be found under ‘Belt Makers’ as well as ‘American Seating,’ a company which produced a safety harness. All files retain their original labels (i.e. the labels Dr. Campbell gave them). Dr. Campbell kept many of his notes with his correspondence. Thus correspondence files often contain clippings, notes, advertisements, and meeting minutes along with letters. For example, the correspondence file ‘Alcohol’ contains pages of Dr. Campbell’s calculations regarding blood-alcohol levels, test information, and flyers from temperance leagues. Dr. Campbell kept carbon copies of his correspondence, so it is often easy to fully reconstruct his communications. Several of the files contain information on subjects other than vehicle safety. The files for the American Medical Association, for example, include details about other medical issues (such as whether masks should be worn in the Emergency Room at all times). Dr. Campbell often interspersed these materials with the vehicle safety materials, so they are difficult to find. General correspondence files (e.g. ‘A,’ ‘B,’ etc.) contain materials filed by organization name, individuals’ last names, or state. For example, the Wisconsin Medical Society is in the ‘W’ file. These items are rarely filed by subject. Many of the papers in Dr. Campbell’s correspondence files were on degrading paper such as newsprint and thermofax. All such papers were photocopied in order to preserve them for future students and scholars.

Manuscripts Dr. Campbell kept his original drafts for many of his published articles. Most of those drafts are in numbered order beginning with the earliest publication, but Dr. Campbell filed some separately and did not number them. They remain in separate files. Included in this section of the collection are reprints of various articles.

Conference Materials Dr. Campbell attended many traffic safety conferences during the 1950s and 1960s. He kept many of the materials which were distributed at these conferences, including conference programs, brochures, and flyers. Some of these files contain papers delivered at the conferences and/or Dr. Campbell’s notes.

Annual Reports of the Commission on Accidental Trauma (1951-1959) These reports, originally classified, contain the findings of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board’s Commission on Accidental Trauma. Many of the findings relate to automobile accidents.

Miscellaneous These are materials which Dr. Campbell filed separately but do not match any of the above categories.

Publications Dr. Campbell kept only a few publications, including the AAMVA Bulletin of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the International Road Safety and Traffic Review, and the Virginia Traffic Safety News.

Seat Belt of Dr. Nolie Mumie Dr. Mumie sent his seat belt to Dr. Campbell as an example of an early seat belt. He received it from the military and had it installed in his car in the late 1930s. Dr. Mumie believed it to be one of the first seat belts used in an automobile. Unfortunately Dr. Campbell found only half of the belt when he donated his materials to the Archives.

Clippings Dr. Campbell kept an extensive collection of clippings from newspapers and magazines about airline and automotive safety, as well as the issue of alcohol and driving. Clippings from newspapers were photocopied for preservation.

Photographs Many of the correspondence files contained photographs. The photographs illustrate Dr. Campbell’s demonstrations at conferences, car crashes, and safety designs for automobiles Each photograph is labeled according to descriptions in associated materials and contains a note about its original location.


  • 1951 - 1974

Biographical Note

Dr. Horace Campbell was born in Douglas, Nebraska and graduated from the University Of Nebraska College Of Medicine in 1922. In 1925 he married Mary King. The couple moved to China in 1926, where Dr. Campbell served as a surgeon sponsored by the American Board of Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church until 1939. They moved to Denver in 1941, where Dr. Campbell worked as a Denver Police surgeon. He quickly turned his interests to automotive safety, and held the post of Chairman of the Automotive Safety Committee of the Colorado Medical Society for many years. Dr. Campbell also was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a diplomat for the American Board of Surgery, a member of the National Safety Council’s Committee on Alcohol and Drugs, and a Vice-Chairman for the American Medical Association’s Commission on Automobile Crash Deaths and Injuries. Aside from auto safety, Dr. Campbell researched Schistosomiasis, Sparganosis, Splenomegaly, and wound healing. Dr. Campbell received several awards for his contributions to automotive safety. These include the Sertoma International Service to Mankind Award in 1964, the Florence R. Sabin Award in 1968, and the American Association for Automotive Medicine Award in 1965 and 1971. Dr. Campbell died in 1985. He was 86. He and his wife had one daughter, Carolyn Cohen, of Chevy Chase, MD, and five grandchildren.


11.5 linear feet (23 Boxes)

Language of Materials



The Horace E. Campbell Collection contains materials relating to Dr. Campbell’s work for automobile and airline safety in the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. Campbell argued for the installation of safety features in vehicles, such as seat belts and rearward-facing seats in aircraft, as well as safety features on the highway, such as impenetrable dividers between opposing traffic streams. He also campaigned against drinking and driving. Dr. Campbell presented his work both at conferences and in journals. The majority of the collection’s files contain correspondence between Dr. Campbell and auto manufacturers, seat belt makers, medical organizations, and individuals interested in his work. Features which many of us consider standard in vehicles are the result of hard work by Dr. Campbell in concert with other forward-thinking doctors and scientists. The air bag, for example, was produced in the early 1960s by the Crash-Cushion Company, Inc. Similarly, the lap-shoulder strap, introduced in 1965, resulted from the combination of several safety harness designs created in previous decades. Other files in the collection contain clippings and tearsheets regarding auto and airline safety, auto safety publications, and reports about crashes and injuries.


This collection is arranged into the following series: Series 1: Correspondence Series 2: Manuscripts Series 3: Conference Materials Series 4: Annual Reports of the Commission on Accidental Trauma, 1951-1959 Series 5: Miscellaneous Series 6: Publications Series 7: Seat Belt of Dr. Nolie Mumie Series 8: Clippings Series 9: Photographs

In Progress
Organized by Molly Tindle, 2000 Machine-readable finding aid created by Shannon DeLay.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States