The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Research Medical Library

Making Cancer History Voices Oral History Collection

Eleanor MacDonald Interview, May 19, 2000

Descriptive Summary

Collection: Making Cancer History Voices Oral History Collection:
Interviewee: MacDonald, Eleanor,
Interviewer: Marchiafava, Louis
Title: Eleanor MacDonald interview
Dates: May 19, 2000
Abstract Eleanor MacDonald talks with Louis Marchifava about her early life and education in New England; her early career in the Cancer Division in the American College of Surgeons; her recruitment and subsequent work at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute; her work in developing the biostatistics coding in the early years of the institution; and her relationship with various physicians and luminaries of the Texas Medical Center.
Collection ID: OH-Macdonalde-20000519
Original Format: Audiocassette
Format: 1 streaming video file and 1 interview transcript
Interview Length: 3 hours
Language: Materials are in English
Repository: Historical Resources Center, Research Medical Library,The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Biographical Note

Eleanor MacDonald was born on March 4, 1906 in Sommerville, Massachusetts to Angus and Catherine MacDonald. She attended and graduated Radcliffe College in 1928. At Harvard Medical School, she studied under E. Bidwell Wilson which led to her eventual appointment as the Epidemiologist to Boston’s State Cancer Program. Her work there lead to the publishing of her seminal work “The Incidence and Survival in Cancer” in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1948. Her work in New England caught the attention of Dr. R. Lee Clark who recruited her to be the head of the newly created Department of Epidemiology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute. During her tenure she developed a 200-code method for transcribing patient charts that provided statistical information to M. D. Anderson’s physicians and researchers. She retired from the institution in 1982 and had been serving as professor emeritus since 1974. She was among the first female scientists inducted into the Texas Medical Center Hall of Fame. She passed away in Houston, Texas on July 26, 2007.


Restrictions on Access

This collection contains no restrictions

Restrictions on Use

All requests for copying of materials must be submitted to the Historical Resources Center in writing for approval. All reproductions will be handled by HRC staff

Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce must be obtained in writing by the Historical Resources Center

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Macdonald, Eleanor J.
Subjects (Organizations)
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center -- history
Neoplasms -- epidemiology
Records as topic ;
Statistics as Topic
Epidemiologic Methods
Survival Analysis
Hospital Departments
Hospitals, Special
Houston (TX)
Oral History

Administrative Information


The interview was conducted between Eleanor MacDonald and Louis Marchiafava on May 19, 2000 in Houston, Texas

Preferred Citation

Eleanor MacDonald Interivew, May 19, 2000, Research Medical Library, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Processing Information

Oral history was edited by Jose Javier Franco Garza



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