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Robert Cushing Derbyshire oral history collection

Identifier: HHC 56

Scope and Content

This interview with Dr. Robert C. Derbyshire (1910-1987) summarizes his 45 year career in New Mexico. A Mayo-trained general surgeon, Dr. Derbyshire came to New Mexico in 1942 and practiced his specialty for 33 years in Albuquerque, Artesia and Santa Fe, successively. He filled many positions of prominence within the state's physician community, among them the presidency of the New Mexico Medical Society and Executive Secretary of the New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners for more than 30 years, and was a nationally prominent authority on the subjects of physician licensure, discipline, and continuing education. Among the subjects discussed in this interview are Dr. Derbyshire's professional background; his surgical practice in New Mexico; the Lovelace Clinic in the 1940s; organized medicine in the state, including the work of the New Mexico Medical Society and the New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners; New Mexico's impaired physicians' legislation, continuing education requirements, and other medico-legal matters. Other materials included in the collection are ninety-six professional articles authored by Dr. Derbyshire and sections from three unfinished works on medical ethics written between 1960 and 1988. Also included is the 1978 reprint of the book, Medical Licensure and Discipline in the United States, written by Dr. Derbyshire and three incomplete book manuscripts. Memorial articles, photographs and articles written on the topic of Dr. Derbyshire are as included.

Series I. Oral History, 1983: This series contains the final transcript of the oral history, and two audio tapes.

Series II. Memorials, 1987: This series contains various memorial articles and newspaper clippings.

Series III. Miscellaneous articles and photographs, 1962-1985:This series contains articles about Dr. Derbyshire and photos.

Series IV. Papers, 1973, 1983:This series contains copies of two articles by Dr. Derbyshire.


  • 1983


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is available for research and open to the public.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of print materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Biography or History

Robert Cushing Derbyshire (1910-1987) was born in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York on November 25, 1910. After graduating with a B.S. from Hampden-Sydney College in 1931, Derbyshire attended Johns Hopkins University and received his M.D. degree in 1936. After working one year as an Assistant Resident of Surgery at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Derbyshire accepted a Fellow in Surgery position at the Mayo Clinic. He remained at the Mayo Clinic until 1941, when he left to become part of the surgical staff at Martin Memorial Hospital in North Carolina. In 1942, Dr. Derbyshire was offered a position at Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Due in part to his contraction of tuberculosis, Dr. Derbyshire left North Carolina for Lovelace Clinic. He remained at the Lovelace Clinic until 1948 when he opened a private practice focused on general surgery in Artesia, New Mexico (1948-1950), and later relocated his practice to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he remained until his retirement from active practice in 1975.

Dr. Derbyshire was an influential and controversial figure in the medical field, both regionally and nationally. He served as Secretary of the New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners (1952 to 1985), President of the New Mexico Medical Society (1962-1963) and as editor of the Federation Bulletin. Dr. Derbyshire was an active advocate of continuing medical education and was considered an expert on medical licensure and discipline. In 1969 he wrote a book on the topics entitled, Medical Licensure and Discipline in the United States. Although the subjects often earned Dr. Derbyshire public booing and "rotten tomatoes," his lobbying on behalf of licensure and discipline brought national recognition to the problems and contributed to the implementation of new rules and regulations for practicing physicians. He served as a member in numerous professional organizations including the Santa Fe County Medical Society, Alpha Omega Alpha, the Federation Licensing Examination Committee and the National Board of Medical Examiners. Dr. Derbyshire remained active in the medical community until his death on July 24, 1987.


1 oversize folder, 2 audio tapes


This collection contains the final transcript and two audio tapes of an oral history with Dr. Robert Cushing Derbyshire (1910-1987), an active physician in New Mexico for over 33 years. Also contains memorial clippings and a copy of the eulogy read at Dr. Derbyshire's funeral.

Related Archival Material

Robert Cushing Derbyshire Papers, 1934-1987. HHC67 New Mexico Health Historical Collection For the Soul is Dead That Slumbers: The Adventures of a Surgeon and His Family in New Mexico (1946-1996), a Memoir, by Samuel R. Ziegler and Isabel H. Ziegler. WZ 70 Z66 1999 NMSW New Mexico HealthHistorical Collection I. J. Marshall, M.D. [graphic]. PH 119 New MexicoHealth Historical Collection C. Pardue Bunch Oral History. HHC 54FL1280 NewMexico Health Historical Collection Clinton Wilkins Morgan, Jr. Oral History. HHC69FL1279 New Mexico Health Historical Collection Donald E. Kilgore, Jr. Oral History Collection. HHC60FL899 New Mexico Health Historical Collection Earl L. Malone Oral History. HHC 70FL1060 NewMexico Health Historical Collection Emmit M. Jennings Oral History. HHC 71FL857 NewMexico Health Historical Collection Harry D. Ellis Oral History. HHC 72FL952 NewMexico Health Historical Collection JoAnn N. Levitt Oral History. HHC 73FL858 NewMexico Health Historical Collection William D. Sedgwick Oral History. HHC 74FL1067New Mexico Health Historical Collection William H. Stennis Oral History. HHC 75FL1265 NewMexico Health Historical Collection Walter A. Stark Oral History. HHC 76FL1262 NewMexico Health Historical Collection New Mexico Medical Society Presidents 1949-1969 [graphic]. PH 056 New Mexico Health HistoricalCollection New Mexico physicians, licensed 1940 to date [graphic]. PH 107 New Mexico Health HistoricalCollection

Separated Material

Original audio recordings are stored in the Special Collections Annex.


Contact Information

  1. UNM Health Sciences Center
  2. Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center, MSC09 5100, 1 University of New Mexico
  3. New Mexico Health Historical Collection
  4. Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
  5. Phone: (505) 272-0656
  6. Fax:
  7. Email:
  8. URL:


Processing Information

These materials originally were organized and cataloged in 1983 by Janet Johnson. Peggy McBride reprocessed in 2005.
Finding Aid of the Robert Cushing Derbyshire Oral History Collection, 1983
Prepared by Janet Johnson. Revised by Peggy McBride.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center Repository

MSC 09 5100
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque New Mexico 87131 United States