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Corporate Records of the Menninger Foundation

Portions of this material may be available on Kansas Memory


Agency Classification

Organizations/Corporations. Menninger Foundation Archives. Menninger Foundation Corporate Records.


Date: 1847 - 2002 (bulk 1925-1995)

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Physical Description: Circa 1320 cubic feet

Unit ID: 227509

Restrictions: Certain materials, particularly regarding individually identifiable patients or sensitive personnel matters, may be restricted from general access. Please contact reference staff for assistance.

Descriptive Information

Abstract: The records of the Menninger Foundation and its predecessor organizations make up the overwhelming majority of materials found in the Menninger Archives at the Kansas Historical Society. Records are available from all major departments within the foundation, including the Clinic and C.F. Menninger Memorial Hospital; the Education Department and Menninger School of Psychiatry; the Research Department; and the Department of Preventive Psychiatry, later becoming CABS (Will Menninger Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences). Records are also available from the governing bodies, including the Boards of Trustees, Governors, and Directors; and from the central administrative offices such as the President's office and the Development Office.

There are also records and materials from various organizations affiliated with the Menninger Foundation, or with which Menninger was affiliated, largely through staff and faculty membership in such organizations. These include the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), the Kansas Psychiatric Society (KPS), the Topeka Psychoanalytic Society (TPS), and the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis (TIP), among other groups.

Included in the corporate sub-collection of the Menninger Archives are the papers from various individual affiliates who worked with, were students of, or were patients in the Menninger institutions. These materials range anywhere from a single manuscript to dozens of boxes, the largest such collections coming from Drs. Lois and Gardner Murphy. Other notable individuals with large collections associated with Menninger include Leonard Duhl, James Folsom, Mary Cerney, Ishak Ramzy, and Paul Pruyser.

The foundation records provide an excellent overview of the non-profit's functions and its administration. While all departments are represented, certain ones, and certain divisions within them, are better represented than others; this information is discussed in greater detail elsewhere regarding those specific entities. At the same time, records for certain eras are also better represented than for others. For example, later records from the mid-1990s until the foundation moved south to Texas are relatively rare throughout the corporation, and some materials that pre-date the corporation's existence may be found in certain series due to how the materials were gathered and organized.

Foundation records show the interaction between Menninger and government—at the local, state, and federal level, such as through cooperative programs Menninger did to help locally, as consultants and on state and national task forces, and as recipients of grants from various departments, particularly the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Because of the nature of the organization there can be a great deal of overlap in topics and in where records can be found on certain subjects—no department or division existed in a vacuum, but instead interacted and collaborated with other departments and divisions a great deal, thereby lending at times a certain fuzziness to lines between record groups and series. Broader key word searches may therefore be necessary for researchers to find all records related to any given topic.

Administrative History

Administrative History:

Beginning as an outpatient clinic that served the local Shawnee County populace for a variety of ills, Dr. Karl Menninger persuaded his father Charles Frederick to begin focusing the clinic's area of expertise on psychiatric and mental health cases. Opening the first clinic in Topeka in 1919, in 1925 the Menningers purchased a farmhouse on the outskirts of town to begin the Menninger Sanitarium for long-term in-patient care. Dr. Will Menninger, Karl's younger brother, joined Karl and their father in this practice that same year.

The sanitarium began expanding almost immediately. The Menninger family members incorporated the sanitarium but kept ownership amongst themselves and their close friends. They opened other operations, including Southard School for children, one of the first such institutions for children with mental health disabilities. They also began training psychiatric professionals and performing research, as well as publishing about their efforts.

As grant monies became more important for funding their various efforts, the Menninger family decided to create a non-profit foundation through which such monies could be funneled more easily. Within a few years this foundation became the central organizational entity for all their efforts, and by 1946 all branches of Menninger's efforts were under the Foundation. This included lastly Southard School, which became the Children's Division of the Clinic.

Other efforts were formalized after World War II, including the Research Department and the Education Department/Menninger School of Psychiatry. The Menninger School of Psychiatry (later renamed the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry & Mental Health Services, or KMSP&MHS) truly established itself post-WWII when Dr. Karl Menninger persuaded the federal government to convert the Winter Army Hospital into a Veterans Administration hospital, giving the Menninger organization an excellent opportunity to graduate large numbers of needed psychiatrists. The Department of Social Applications, renamed the Department of Preventive Psychiatry, was a later addition to the foundation; by the early 1970s, this department had morphed again into the Will Menninger Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences, or CABS.

The Menninger Foundation grew, to the point that for a time it existed on two campuses on west 6th Street in Topeka, and to the point that it employed over a thousand people with a budget in the millions. Throughout its existence, treatment, education, research, and public outreach remained paramount for the organization.

By the late 1990s, the Menninger Foundation was foundering. Clinical patients, the source of much of the foundation's income, were spending less time in in-house treatment, and health insurance companies were not covering fees the way they once had. The foundation's Board of Trustees began questioning how long the foundation could remain in operation in its current existence. With many false starts, by 2003 the foundation dissolved and the Clinic moved south to Houston, Texas in order to affiliate itself with Baylor Medical College. The Menninger Clinic continues to operate in Texas.

Contents List

Items in this list may appear in the format Description (beginning year - ending year). Sometimes dates appear as part of the Description and the phrase [Date not given] appears in the date area.

Index Terms


  1. Menninger Clinic -- History
  2. Menninger Foundation -- Archives
  3. Menninger Foundation. Board of Trustees -- History
  4. Menninger Foundation. Children's Division -- History
  5. Menninger Foundation. Dept. of Education -- History
  6. Menninger Foundation. Dept. of Preventive Psychiatry -- History
  7. Menninger Foundation -- History
  8. Menninger Foundation -- Records and correspondence
  9. Menninger Foundation. Research Dept. -- History
  10. Menninger School of Psychiatry -- History
  11. Will Menninger Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences -- History

Creators and Contributors

  1. Menninger Foundation

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: Certain materials, particularly regarding individually identifiable patients or sensitive personnel matters, may be restricted from general access. Please contact reference staff for assistance.

The results displayed here have been compiled from a number of databases that may contain variations, inconsistencies, and inadvertent errors in the detailed information presented. For small collections and records series, only basic data is included at the present time. Other descriptions may be less complete than desired; however, we are working to improve them. For more information, please contact our reference staff.