Trunkey Rare Book Collection

Archive photo of Dr. Donald (Don) Trunkey with other surgeons

When Dr. Donald D. Trunkey was just five years old he was taught to read by his aunt, a teacher at the Southern Oregon College of Education (now Southern Oregon University). He quickly devoured all the works of Zane Grey and other adventure tales—fitting subject matter for a young boy growing up on the Palouse. He remembers first falling in love with history on reading Francis Parkman's classic, The Oregon Trail (1847), and for a time he thought about becoming a history teacher.

But an early experience, combining tackle football and a clothesline pole—which resulted in an epiphyseal fracture and dislocation of the wrist—brought Trunkey into contact with the local general practitioner. Over the course of the several hours it took the physician to set the break, and the weeks of subsequent cast repair, Trunkey got to know the doctor and soon decided that medicine was the direction he wanted to take.

Combining his love of medicine and history, Trunkey began collecting classic medical texts. His first notable purchase was Walter Cannon's Traumatic Shock (1923); books soon followed, many from the book lover's paradise known as the Old Hickory Bookshop. His best find to date is a manuscript letter from Baron D.-J. Larrey, Napoleon's surgeon, describing the relative merits of the climates of London and Florence.

Dr. Trunkey donated many titles from his personal library to OHSU’s Department of Surgery.  In 2015, selected rare books from the collection were transferred to OHSU Historical Collections & Archives, where they are now available to the OHSU community and the public for research.  These include an English translation of Dominique Jean Larrey’s Surgical Essays, and other classics in military medicine and trauma surgery.  Contact Historical Collections & Archives to learn more about these rare books.