The R. Douglas Sanders Collection

Historical Archives

The R. Douglas Sanders Collection at the Delaware Academy of Medicine


Overview of the Collection

Repository: Delaware Academy of MedicineJohn H. Ammon Medical Education Center, 4765 Ogletown Stanton Road, Suite L-10, Newark, DE, 19713
Creator: Sanders, R. Douglas (Richard Douglas), 1906-77
Title: The R. Douglas Sanders Collection
Dates: 1965-95
Quantity: 2 cubic feet
Abstract: A collection of artifacts from the life and career of Dr. R. Douglas Sanders, MD, of Wilmington (1906-1977).
Identification: US DeWAM DC4
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Richard Douglas Sanders was born in 1906 in Tennessee and raised in Kentucky, where he graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1928. After serving as director of the Department of Anesthesia at Valley Forge General Hospital in World War II, he moved to Pennsylvania and took a similar post at the Delaware Hospital.

Dr. Sanders was one of the first physicians in the country to specialize in the study of anesthesia, and one of the earliest to be certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology. He was also the first anesthesiologist to practice in Delaware. A skilled craftsman, he designed and built many improvements on the anesthesia technology of his day, including the first flexible, non-compressible endotracheal tubes and a much improved type of bronchoscopic injector, which were widely praised. The Sanders injector is still in use today. With the help of the Academy, he created the Anesthesia Research Foundation, and was also its first president. He also served as president of the Delaware Hospital medical staff and the New Castle County Medical Society.

Dr. Sanders was known as a Renaissance man, his expertise including such fields as metallurgy, sailing, photography, physics, and language. He was also an accomplished landscape painter who counted many well-known artists, including Andrew Wyeth, among his acquaintances.

In later life, Dr. Sanders served as senior attending and consultant to the Wilmington Medical Center Department of Anesthesia and also directed the School of Nurse Anesthesia at the center. He passed away on June 28, 1977.

Source: Delaware Academy of Medicine Biographical Collection (AC1), Delaware Academy of Medicine, Newark, DE

Scope and Contents

The Academy owns two of Dr. Sanders’s paintings and some medical instruments of his design.


Arranged by type of material, then by date of accession where known.


Restrictions on Access
Open to the public.

Restrictions on Use
No publication or reproduction for anything other than personal use without the permission of the Delaware Academy of Medicine. Any use of these materials must be in accordance with the Delaware Academy of Medicine’s archival access policy.

Related Material

The University of Delaware’s art collection includes a watercolor by Dr. Sanders, Tide Marsh.

Although it is not part of this collection, the Academy also has a photograph of Dr. Sanders with a memorial plaque celebrating his life, made and donated by Dr. George Henderson in 1978 after Dr. Sanders’s death.
Dr. Sanders has a file in the Delaware Academy of Medicine Biographical Collection (AC1-N229), which contains some correspondence about the appraisal of the paintings in his collection and a biography of him.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Sanders, R. Douglas (Richard Douglas), 1906-1977

Anesthesia Research Foundation
Delaware Academy of Medicine

Wilmington (Del.)



Administrative Information

Processing Information
Arranged and described by Christopher Shea, February 2006. Last update to finding aid by Christopher Shea, February 2007.

The writing of this finding aid was made possible in part by a Delaware Heritage Commission Challenge Grant.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Mowing machine painting, undated (28″ x 36″, watercolor)

A painting of an old, broken piece of farm equipment, sitting in front of a fence. Formal title and date of creation are unknown; some of the Academy’s records call the painting Mowing Machine, others refer to it as Fence Pasture. Dr. Sanders donated the painting in 1965.

Shed painting, 1960? (36″ x 39″, watercolor)

A painting of a partly collapsed farm shed. Formal title and date of creation are unknown, but some of the Academy’s records give title as Shed on the Prairie or Small Stable. The number “60” is written above Dr. Sanders’s signature in lower right corner, suggesting the painting was made in 1960.

Laryngoscopes, 1947

Two laryngoscopes designed by Dr. Sanders and built by Pilling of Philadelphia. One is intended for use with adults, the other — more slender-bladed — can be used with either adults or children. These are Dr. Sanders’s refinements to the Chevalier Jackson model of laryngoscope, including sealed battery compartments to make them easier to sterilize and shallower, more rounded blades for ease of insertion. Also includes a small case of spare bulbs.