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George E. Omer, Jr. oral history collection

Identifier: HHC 89

Scope and Content

The oral history interview with Dr. George E. Omer, Jr. (1922- ) of Albuquerque, New Mexico, surveys his career in medicine, with a special focus on his quarter-century plus in New Mexico. Following a distinguished twenty year career as one of the United States Army's leading orthopaedic surgeons, Dr. Omer came to the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in 1970 as the founder and first chairman of the institution's Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. A nationally prominent hand surgeon and administrator, Dr. Omer built the department and served as its chairman until his retirement in 1990. This interview focuses on his career in New Mexico, but provides a general overview of his personal and professional backgrounds as well. Other materials included in this collection are news clippings pertaining to the career of Dr. Omer from 1970 to 1990, four articles authored by Dr. Omer between 1954 and 1982 and a copy of the 1989-1990 annual report of the Department of Orthopaedics. Also documented are memoranda regarding the academic appointments of Dr. Omer to three separate departments in 1979 and three versions of his curriculum vitae updated in 1997. In addition, a blank certificate from the Omer Hand Society is also present.

Series I. Oral History, 1999

Series II. Newspaper Clippings, 1970-1996

Series III. Papers, 1954-1982

Series IV. Academic Career, 1979, 1989-1990

Series V. Licensure, 1989

Series VI. Miscellaneous, 1950-1960, n.d.


  • 1950-1999

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

Born in Kansas City, Kansas on December 23, 1922, George E. Omer (1922-2014) became a nationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon in the United States Army before establishing himself as a prominent surgeon and academician specializing in hand surgery in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area. The son of southern Colorado homesteaders, George Omer received his B.S. in Chemistry from Fort Hays Kansas State University in 1944. Having completed one year of medical school at the University of Kansas, Omer enlisted in the United States Army, becoming a second lieutenant in the Medical Administrative Corps. In 1947, Omer returned to medical school at the University of Kansas, receiving his medical degree in 1950. During his internship at Bethany General Hospital in Kansas, Dr. Omer was inducted into the U.S. Army for the second time as a physician draftee in the Korean War. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and then later to orthopaedic service at Fort Benning Hospital. In 1952, Dr. Omer accepted an orthopaedic residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas and made the decision to pursue a medical career in orthopaedic surgery with the United States Army.

After completing his residencies at Brooke Army Medical Center and William Beaumont General Hospital in El Paso, Texas, Omer held the position of Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon at Fort Riley, Kansas. During his twenty years of service with the U. S. Army, Dr. Omer served as Chief of the Hand Surgery Unit at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver, Director of the Orthopaedic Residency Training Program and Orthopaedic Pathology courses at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the Director of the Hand Surgery Center as well as Chief of the Orthopaedic Residency Training Program and Orthopaedic Service at Brooke Army Medical Center. For his service, Dr. Omer received the United States of America Legion of Merit Medal and earned the ranking of Colonel.

In 1970, Dr. Omer left the military and accepted a position at the newly founded Department of Surgery at the University of New Mexico. Originally a division of the Department of Surgery, the Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Department became freestanding after his arrival with Dr. Omer as Chairman. From 1970 until 1990, Dr. Omer held three concurrent academic appointments at the University of New Mexico. In addition, Omer worked as the Interim Medical Director at The Carrie Tingley Hospital for Children 1970-1972 and 1986-1987 and also served as the Assistant Dean for Graduate Education at the University of New Mexico Medical Center from 1979 to 1981. In 1990, Dr. Omer became Professor and Chairman Emeritus in the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. Under Dr. Omer's leadership, the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation expanded from two physicians to seventeen full-time professionals and developed a division in sports medicine and the first academic division of hand surgery in the United States.

Dr. Omer retired in 1990 and resided in the Albuquerque area with his wife Wendie and family. He passed away in 2014.


1 document case


This collection documents the professional career of Dr. George E. Omer, Jr. (1922-2014). Included in the collection is the forty-two page final transcript of an oral history interview, a corrected proof of the transcript, four audio tapes and two diskettes from the interview. Also included are collected news clippings concerning Dr. Omer from 1970 to 1990 as well as reprints of four articles authored by Dr. Omer and a copy of the 1989-1990 annual report of the Department of Orthopaedics written by Dr. Omer.

Related Archival Material

W. Sterling Edwards Oral History. HHC77 FL1042New Mexico Health Historical Collection.

George E. Omer, Jr. papers, HHC 341

Separated Material

Two photographs of Dr. Omer were placed in the Photograph Collection, PH 122 and PH 094.

Original audio cassettes and diskettes are housed in the Special Collections Annex.


Publications by George E. Omer, Jr.
  • Management of Peripheral Nerve Problems, edited by George E. Omer, Jr., Morton Spinner, Allen L. Van Beek; special medical illustrator, Miguel A. Pirela-Cruz.
  • "Complications of Peripheral Nerve Injuries," by George E. Omer, Jr., Miguel Pirela-Cruz in Complications in Orthopaedic Surgery, edited by Charles H. Epps, Jr.
  • "Neuromuscular Function and the Skeleton," in Orthopaedics: Principles of Basic and Clinical Science, edited by Felix Bronner and Richard V. Worrell.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Janet Johnson. Reprocessed by Danielle Scott in 2005.
Guide to the George E. Omer, Jr. Oral History Collection, 1950-1999
Processed by Danielle Scott
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

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