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Clayton S. White Oral History collection

Identifier: HHC 94

Scope and Content

This interview with Dr. Clayton S. "Sam" White (1912-2004) of Albuquerque, New Mexico, surveys his life and distinguished career. A medical scientist/physician/ administrator, Dr. White was born and educated in Colorado (University of Colorado, Boulder and UC School of Medicine, Denver) and spent two years as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. After military service in the Navy, he came to Albuquerque in 1947 at the creation of the Lovelace Foundation for Medical Education and Research to launch and help lead its research programs. From that 1947 arrival until 1974, he was continuously engaged in development and leadership of the Foundation. Among the subjects discussed in this interview are Dr. White's personal and professional backgrounds; the evolution of his medical research training and interests; the Foundation and its early years of research and education programs; the individuals centrally involved in the Lovelace institutions; relationships between the Foundation and Clinic and outside agencies, such as the Atomic Energy Commission, the Air Force, Sandia Corporation, the airline industry, and others; and the physical expansion of the Foundation.


  • 1938-1998
  • Majority of material found in Placeholder Unit Date Text

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

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

Biography / History

Clayton Samuel White, known as Sam, was born in Fort Collins, Colorado on October 11, 1912. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 1934 with a degree in psychology and minors in mathematics and physics. Having won a Rhodes Scholarship in 1935, he earned a baccalaureate in physiology at Oxford and received a year and a half of credit at the medical school at the University of Colorado. In 1942 he received his medical degree from the University of Colorado. Immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Dr. White entered service in the Navy. While in the Navy, Dr. White conducted research on oxygen masks and liquid oxygen converters on Naval aircraft, among other projects. During his service in the navy, Dr. White made the acquaintance of William Randolph Lovelace III. This meeting began a series of collaborations that would eventually draw Dr. White out of the Navy and into New Mexico.

In 1947, Dr. Lovelace recruited Dr. White to be director of research of the freshly organized Lovelace Foundation for Medical Education and Research in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tempted by the opportunity to return to the west, Dr. White left the Navy and began work with Lovelace. With a substantial contract from the Atomic Energy Commission to study the blast and shock effects of big explosions, Dr. White developed mathematical formulas to explain why one building might be leveled and the one next to it, remain standing. When Dr. Lovelace was killed in a plane crash in 1965, Dr. White became director of the Lovelace Foundation. Through the years Dr. White worked on problems of aging, memory loss, hypothermia, cosmic rays, geology and pollution of the upper atmosphere.

From 1974 to 1979, Dr. White was the president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City. Among his many honors, Dr. White was awarded the State of New Mexico Distinguished Public Service award in 1973. Dr. White died on April 26, 2004 at Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


1 document case and 2 audio tapes


The collection contains the final transcript and audio cassettes from the 1985 oral history interview of Dr. Clayton "Sam" White conducted by Dr. Jake Spidle. Materials relating to Dr.White's distinguished career include newspaper clippings, a photograph, curriculum vitae and a listing of his publications.

Related Material

There are twenty-four oral histories related to the Lovelace Foundation for Medical Education and Research in the New Mexico Health Historical Collection.

Separated Material

Original audio recordings are stored in the Special Collections Annex.

Processing Information

The collection was processed originally by Janet Johnson. Peggy McBride reorganized the collection.
Guide to the Clayton S. White Oral History collection, 1938-1998
Finding aid prepared by Peggy McBride.
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