William Frederick Orr, Jr. (1909-1983) biographical file

Identifier: EBL-0759

  • Staff Only


Biographical file contains newspaper clippings, photographs, obituaries, programs from lecture series, correspondence, and a resolution.


  • 1958 - 1989

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Historical or Biographical Note

Dr. William Frederick Orr Jr. was the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's first Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. He began his medical career with an interest in bacteriology, followed in succession by pharmacology, medicine, and neurology. Dr. Orr interned in medicine at the University of Rochester and studied neurology at Boston City Hospital and psychiatry at Iowa. He then returned to Boston City, where he studied under Vanderbilt psychiatrist Merrill Moore before moving on to study at Columbia University's neurological institute.

Although he was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Dr. Orr spent most of his life in Nashville. He entered Vanderbilt University at the age of sixteen and earned his B.A. in 1929, his M.S. in 1930, and his M.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1935. He became a member of the Medical School faculty in 1941 after having taught at Columbia and Harvard. Six years later the Department of Psychiatry was formed on a small budget, and Dr. Orr became its first head.

Upon retiring from the Medical School in 1969, Dr. Orr served as director of the Columbia Area Mental Health Center. After a second "retirement" in 1974, he became a psychiatric consultant at Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital in New York City. He retired from that position in 1977.

Dr. Orr was named Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus in 1974. In 1976 the Department of Psychiatry honored him by instituting the William F. Orr Lecture in Psychiatry, presented annually. Orr passed away in November 1983.


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William Frederick Orr, Jr. (1909-1983) biographical file
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Part of the VUMC Historical Images and Biographies Repository

Eskind Biomedical Library
2209 Garland Ave.
Nashville TN 37232


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