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William J. Mills, Jr. papers

Guide to the William J. Mills, Jr. papers
circa 1941-2005


Collection number: HMC-1214.
Creator: Mills, William J., 1918-2011.
Title: William J. Mills, Jr. papers.
Dates: circa 1941-2005.
Volume of collection: 25 cubic feet.
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Collection summary: Papers of an orthopedic doctor in Alaska who conducted research on cold injury, including frostbite and hypothermia.

Biographical note:
Dr. William J. Mills, Jr. was born to William and Rose Mills in San Francisco in 1918. He graduated high school in 1936 and began studying anthropology and zoology at the University of California at Berkeley. After graduating, he enlisted in the Navy and served as a commissioned ensign during World War II from 1942 to 1945. During the Solomon Islands Campaign he sustained two open fractures to his legs and had to have one of his legs amputated. While he was recovering, he was accepted into Stanford Medical School and graduated in 1949. While completing his residency in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he became engaged to Elaine Nagelvoort. Mills took a job as a cannery doctor in Bristol Bay, Alaska, before returing to Michigan to get married. After completing his residency in Orthopedics, Mills and his family moved to Anchorage, where he opened an orthopedics practice. In addition to his practice he held clinics for children with physical disabilities throught Alaska. Soon after moving to Alaska, he retired from the Navy and was commission full lieutenand in the Navy Medical Department, U.S. Navy Reserve, eventually attaining the rank of rear admiral. In 1966, Dr. Mills volunteered for service in the Vietnam War and served as the Chief of Orthopedics at the Naval Hospital in Danang. After returning from Vietnam, he spent a year at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee on a grant to study cerebral palsy and then worked for the Alaska Crippled Children’s Center caring for children with cerebral palsy and former polio patients.

Throughout his career, Dr. Mills had an interest in cold injury, including frostbite, hypothermia, and immersion injury. He was a consultant to NASA on cold injury. He started a frostbite program at the University of Alaska Anchorage using grant funding and used some of the funding to develop high-altitude research camps on Denali. He developed a system of care for freezing injury that became the leading treatment protocol for these injuries. He taught courses in thermal injury and cold physiology for the UAA School of Nursing and Health Sciences and volunteered as team physician for the UAA athletic teams.

Dr. Mills died in Anchorage on December 4, 2011.

Collection description:
The collection consists of materials related to Dr. William J. Mills’s medical career and research. The collection includes correspondence, which is mostly professional  but also includes a small amount of personal correspondence; writing files and preseantations, including published articles by Mills, drafts, notes for specific articles, and correspondence concerning particular writing projects and presentations; files related to the Center for High Latitude Health Research and Mill’s employment with the University of Alaska Anchorage, including the center’s reresearch on the health effects of climbing Denali; files related to Mills’s consulting work with the United States military; files related to organizations and conferences in which Mills participated; subject and research files including those concerning frostbite, hypothermia and other cold injuries, as well as other issues related to orthopedics; photographs and slides related to cold injuries and orthopedics; patient case files; and video and audio recordings of Mills’s lectures and presentations.

Arrangement: Materials in the collection are arranged by type of material

Digitized copies: Select video, audio, and film have been digitized, some of which are available on Alaska’s Digital Archives. Other digitized copies of collection materials are not available online. However, they are available to view in the Archives Research Room. For information about obtaining digital copies, please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Digitization was made possible by a Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Access restrictions: The collection contains sensitive medical information, please contact the Archives prior to requesting materials.

Use restrictions: Some materials in this collection contain sensitive medical information. Photography or duplication of these materials is forbidden, and copies made of restricted material will be redacted.

Rights note: Archives and Special collections owns copyright to materials created by Dr. William J. Mills, Jr. Materials not created by Dr. Mills may be subject to copyright not held by the Archives.

Preferred citation: William J. Mills, Jr. papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Works used in preparation of inventory:

“In Memory of William J. Mills, Jr.” http://janssenfuneralhomes.com/memsol.cgi?user_id=531242

Separated materials: Published materials have been removed from the collection and selected items have been added to the Library’s Rare Books collection.

Related materials: Additional collections related to health and medicine in Alaska can found in our Medicine and health collections topic guide.

Acquisition note: The collection was donated to the Archives by Dr. Mills’s wife Elaine Mills, and a deed of gift was signed in 2015.

Processing information: This collection was described by Gwen Higgins in 2017. Becky Butler provided additional description when materials were digitized in 2019.

Container list:

Box/Folder Description Date
1-2 Correspondence
2-5 Writings and presentations by Dr. Mills. Includes: published articles by Mills, notes and drafts for specific articles, correspondence with publishers, speeches, and presentation slides.
5-6 Center for High Latitude Health Research files. Includes: correspondence, reports, research data, lists of mountaineering gear and photographic slides related to the Center for High Latitude Health Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), as well as files related to Dr. Mills’s employment at UAA.
7-8 Military consulting files. Includes: correspondence, reports, plans, memoranda, and photographs relating to Dr. Mills’s service as a consultant in cold weather medicine for the United States military.
8-9 Organization and conference files. Includes: correspondence, notes, and programs relating to organizations and conferences in which Mills participated.
10-15 Research and subject files. Includes notes, articles, and research data about frostbite, hypothermia, immersion injury, and other cold injuries, as well as other medical topics, including orthopedics and sports medicine.
15-21, 22-24 Photographic materials. Includes: photographs (slides, prints, and negatives), primarily of cold injuries, like frostbite, hypothermia, and immersion injury and the treatment thereof. Some cold injury photographs are accompanied by patient case files. Boxes 23-25 contain oversize prints of frostbite photographs used in an exhibit. There are also photographs of other orthopedic conditions.
21 Patient case files.
5/Item1 Audio cassette: Dr. Martin [Nemiroff], ‘Cold H2O Drowning.” Recording of a lecture on cold water drowning by Dr. Martin Nemiroff sponsored by the Indiana University Aquatic School and Aquatic Health branch of HPER. Topics discussed include: demographics of drowning victims, the importance of CPR training, near drowning syndrome, the mental response during drowning, case studies of drowning victims, viability of drowning victims submerged for more than four minutes, physiologic response to cold water immersion, and rewarming and resuscitation techniques. undated
5/Item2 Audio cassette:Same as 5/Item1. undated
5/Item3 Audio cassette: “The Patient Too How and the Patient Too Cold.” Recording of Audio Digest Family Practice vol. 28, no. 25’s lectures on heat illness by Dr. Joseph J. Bender and on hypothermia by Dr. Cameron C. Bang [?]. 1980 July 7
5/Item4 Audio cassette: Recording of dictated speech given in absentia by Dr. William J. Mills Jr. after receiving the Jack Hildes Award during the 12th International Congress for Circumpolar Health in Nuuk, Greenland. Topics discussed include: Dr. Mills’ military career, the residual problems of cold injuries, and cold injury treatment. The end of the recording contains a conversation between an unidentified man and woman discussing their trip to Alaska. 2003 September
5/Item5 VHS: “Fluoroscan Imaging Systems.” Video advertisement for Fluroscan Imaging Systems x-ray system. undated
5/Item6 VHS: “‘SF-8-200 Freezing Injury’ Item #008279.” Video transfer of “Freezing Injury” films. This video contains graphic images of frostbite injuries. Video of doctors working on frostbitten patients. Dr. William Mills discusses frostbite and cold injury. Dr. Mills also shows photographs of frostbitten body parts and discusses the specific of each injury, thawing of the affected body part, recovery, and potential medical difficulties. circa 1992
5/Item7 VHS: Fisheries Safety and Survival Series videos. Video recordings of various Fisheries Safety and Survival Series videos, which videos regarding hypothermia, cold water near drowning, sea survival and shore survival. The videos are a University of Alaska Instructional Telecommunication Services production. First video: “Fisheries Safety & Survival Series. Hypothermia”. Title taken from video title screen. Video regarding hypothermia and fisheries, which includes hypothermia symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Narrated by AMCS David E. Watkins, Chief Instructor of USCG Survival School in Kodiak, AK. The video also includes a hypothermia survival story. Second video: “Fisheries Safety & Survival Series. Cold Water Near Drowning”. The video is narrated by AM3 John Baker, Instructor, USCG Survival School in Kodiak, AK. CPT Martin Meniroff, MD USCG Hospital, Kodiak, AK discusses cold water near drowning survival. EMTs are also interviewed and discuss treatment of survivors. Third video: “Fisheries Safety & Survival Series. Sea Survival”. LCDR Ken Coffland, Head, CGAS Survival School, Kodiak, AK is the narrator of the video. Disasters at sea and how to survive them are discussed in this video. People who survived sea disasters are interviewed and survival techniques are discussed. Fourth video: Fisheries Safety & Survival Series. Shore Survival”. Video is narrated by Hank Pennington, Marine Advisory Agent, Kodiak, AK. In the video, survival on shore after a sea disaster is discussed. Those who survived on shore were interviewed. 1983
5/Item8 VHS: “Cold Injury, Dr. Mills Lecture for NS 661.” Video recording of Dr. William Mills lecture for a class. This video contains graphic images of frostbite injuries. Dr. Mills lectures the class on cold injury, probably for a UAA School of Nursing and Health Sciences class. undated
5/Item9 VHS: Same as 5/Item9. undated
5/Item10 VHS: “The Rescue.” Documentary video titled “The Rescue: The daring rescue of seven missionaries against impossible odds!” The video involved the plane crash and survival of members of “The Siberia Mission.” circa 1995
5/Item11 VHS: “Cold Injury: Clinical Consensus Meeting.” This video includes a lecture where cold weather injuries and revival are discussed. undated
5/Item12 VHS: “Cold Weather Injuries, presented by Dr. William J. Mills, Jr. MD. VA Puget Sound Health Care System-Seattle Division 1997.” Video recording of a presentation by Dr. Mills on cold injury. 1997
5/Item13 VHS: “Pre-hospital Care Hypothermia/Frostbite William Mills, M.D. 10/12/83.” Recording of Dr. Mills discussing hypothermia and immersion injury, cold injury in the form of frostbite, and a discussion for first responder and victims on immediate treatment of frostbite and hypothermia. 1983 October 12
5/Item14 AVHS: “Frostbite, rough cut.” Video recording of Dr. James O’Malley and Dr. Mills discussing the various aspects of cold injury, prevention, and treatment for the video “Frostbite and Hypothermia.”The video was presented by Alaska Arctic Research Foundation. The video begins with an introduction by Dr. O’Malley and Dr. Mills, followed by Don Love as the character “Dr. O” discussing hypothermia and frostbite. Various scenarios are presented, and then photographs of frostbite are shown. circa 1997
6 Film: Mt. McKinley. Recording of a helicopter landing at a camp on Mt. McKinley (Denali). People are seen loading supplies onto it before it takes off again. Dark and difficult to see scene of people possibly loading things into a vehicle and people changing clothes. No sound. 1983
Reel 1 Film: Pressure Measurement; U. of WA Orthopedics, Seattle, WA 98195 F.A. Matsen M.D. Video explaining how to take tissue pressure measurements for the treatment of compartmental syndrome. undated
Reel 2 Film: Bethel Ortho. Clinic 1959. Dr. Mills examining patients at the Bethel orthopedic clinic. No sound. Exterior shots of the hospital. Shots of children playing , buildings in the town, and dog teams. Dr. Mills and nurses placing a cast on the leg of a young boy. RESTRICTED: Shows patients being examined. 1959
Reel 3 Film: USAF Aerospace Audio-Visual Service: Oric-Freezing, 30 May 1966. Doctors performing amputation of the forefoot on a patient with frostbite. Several takes of Dr. William Mills presenting his slideshow on frostbite. No sound. 1966 May 30
Reel 4 Film: “MD-USA Part II.” Same as Reel 13. 1984 December 21
Reel 5 Film: “Dave Dolese First Part.” Same as Reel 14. circa 1984
Reel 6 Film: “Freezing Injury, US Army, Fort Richardson, AK.” Freezing Injury: Diagnosis and Care. Same as Reel 8 but with an introduction and the entire amputation scene. Poor sound quality. undated
Reel 7 Film: Same as Reel 6. undated
Reel 8 Film: “Freezing Injury, Personal Copy.” Recording of Dr. William Mills giving a lecture on the effects of cold injury on military operations through history. He goes on to discuss what frostbite is and the physiological processes that cause injury. Presents a slideshow of frostbitten body parts, discussing how the injury occurred and treatment of the patients’ injuries, and their eventual outcomes. Dr. Mills contrasts rapid rewarming in warm water with slower thawing in cold water or snow. It is the original film that most of Reel 6 was duplicated from. undated
Reel 9 Film: “Outs & Trims: Freezing Injury Diagnosis & Care #1.” This is only an acknowledgement and end screen for a lecture on cold injury. undated
Reel 10 Film: “Outs & Trims: Freezing Injury Diagnosis & Care #2.” Scene of a nurse wheeling a patient into a room on a stretcher. It cuts to a shot of a pair of frostbitten feet. RESTRICTED: The patient’s face is visible. undated
Reel 11 Film: “Outs & Trims: Freezing Injury Diagnosis & Care #3.” Outtake from Reel 8 showing Dr. Mills Sitting on his desk speaking at the camera. There is no sound. undated
Reel 12 Film: “Outs & Trims: Freezing Injury Diagnosis & Care #4.” Outtakes from Reel 8. Shots of patient’s feet, whirlpool bath, marking foot for amputation and Dr. Mills at his desk. There are several shots of slides from the slideshow. undated
Reel 13 Film: “For Dr. Dolese – 12/21/1984; Mills 1st Part.” March of Medicine MD USA television program showing U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Bethel. Dr George Wegman[?] gives medical advice to remote communities over radio. Shows village of Nikmute[?]. Follows the story of young boy Paul Tamugiak [?] as he comes to Bethel for an orthopedic evaluation. Shows Dr. William Mills coming from Anchorage to see orthopedic patients at Bethel. Shows patient examinations. Paul is fitted with a new leg brace and returns home. The program then visits Landsdale, Pennsylvania and Dr. David Moyer as he consults with patients at his office. He stops at a pharmacy and then visits patients. The program then visits Dr. Julius Fernandez[?] as he cares for a pregnant woman at a hospital in Franklin, Louisiana. 1984 December 21
Reel 14 Film: “M.D. USA (Part 1) (Reel 1).” March of Medicine: MD USA. Produced by Smith Kline & French Laboratories. Begins in Arizona with Dr. David Dolese seeing patients at a clinic for Navajo patients. Doctor Dolese is then shown at the hospital at the Ganado Mission performing gallbladder surgery on a woman he saw at the clinic. The program then visits Dr. Dan Dorchester in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin as he cares for migrant workers picking the local cherry crop. He then travels by plane to visit a patient suffering from a hemorrhaging ulcer. 1984 December 21
Reel 15 Film: Same as Reel 8. undated


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