A Historical Parting: McLean’s Registrar and Historian Retires

June 23, 2020

On June 30, 2020, Terry Bragg, MSLS, MA, will retire from his position as the director of McLean’s Registrar and Professional Staff Office (RPSO), a position he has held for more than 35 years.

Bragg began working at McLean Hospital in November 1981, when he was recruited to establish an institutional archive. Shortly afterward, in March 1983, he was hired as the RPSO director, a role that includes the management of professional staff credentialing and academic appointments. Bragg has continued to fulfill these director and historian roles concurrently since 1983.

“Generations of psychologists and psychiatrists have depended on Terry’s knowledge and expertise as well as his kindness and support throughout their careers,” said Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH, McLean’s chief academic officer. “He has been available 24/7 to lend a hand to administrators, faculty, and trainees with questions and concerns. He has a wealth of knowledge about hospital operations and Harvard Medical School processes and procedures that he can discuss in detail at a moment’s notice. I have known Terry since I was a resident at McLean and have appreciated the guidance and assistance he has provided to me throughout my career.”

“Generations of psychologists and psychiatrists have depended on Terry’s knowledge and expertise as well as his kindness and support throughout their careers.”– Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH, McLean’s chief academic officer.

His RPSO role includes many responsibilities and areas of supervision. Bragg credits his success in serving McLean throughout his career as a result of hospital leadership, employee, and faculty support, coupled with the dedication and teamwork of the RPSO staff.

He and his staff are responsible for overseeing the credentialing of our hospital’s professional staff. This involves a wide range of critical activities, including the coordination of licensure and malpractice insurance.

He also oversees all annual hospital appointments. This role includes submitting all necessary paperwork to Harvard Medical School (HMS) for first appointments and facilitating HMS appointment renewals for established faculty. Bragg collaborates with the Office of the Chief Academic Officer on processing these appointments.

Other RPSO director roles include providing essential information to the committee that reviews proposed faculty promotions and providing information and documentation to help secure visas for staff. Bragg said that he “took a lot of pride” in his work to help recruit staff from other countries over the years and help them stay in the U.S. to work at McLean.

Fortunately for us, after taking a well-deserved summer off, Bragg will return to McLean on a part-time basis this fall to resume his invaluable role as our hospital’s historian.

McLean’s Rich History

Bragg is our resident expert on McLean’s history. He provides walking tours on the Belmont campus as well as slide presentations on McLean’s history for trainees, new faculty, donors, and other interested members of McLean’s staff. He has also helped preserve McLean historic artifacts and portraits. Such artifacts range from biochemist Otto Folin’s colorimetric instrument to a McLean farm milk bottle illustrating our pre-World War II self-sufficiency. He has helped to protect portraits of McLean leaders from throughout its history, including that of John McLean, as well as a bust of our first superintendent, Rufus Wyman.

“By 1981, McLean had accumulated a huge treasure trove of archives, dating back to its founding in 1811, which needed to be organized and catalogued,” said Francis de Marneffe, MD, president emeritus of McLean Hospital. “That is why I recruited Terry as an archivist. I did not realize at the time how long he would be with us and how useful he would be to the hospital and to generations of staff members. Over the years, Terry became a close friend, personally helpful to me, and an important source of information when I needed to check a historical fact.”

Milk bottle
This pre-WW II milk bottle is just one of many historical items from McLean’s archives

His vast knowledge of our hospital has made him a much sought-after resource for those who have written books that involve McLean history. This includes the extensive support he gave to de Marneffe in the development of “McLean Hospital: A Personal Memoir,” and most recently, he provided a great amount of information on the poet Robert Lowell to Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, for her book “Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character.”

He also contributed copies of documents and other information from the McLean archives to the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers Project. This initiative was undertaken to identify significant writings from Olmsted, the renowned landscape architect who chose the site of McLean’s Belmont campus, and present them in a 12-volume format.

Bragg published his own historical piece in 1984, “Guide to the McLean Hospital Archives.” As a reference source, this book includes a chronological timeline of significant McLean events, a listing of the hospital’s directors, and a description of the various historical collections. In 1986, the archive was instrumental in the 175th-anniversary celebrations at the hospital and the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting, and in the publication of “Crossroads In Psychiatry: A History Of The McLean Hospital” by S. B. Sutton, who worked with Bragg for three years researching the archive collections.

Bragg’s Legacy

Bragg is a longtime member of the McLean Credentials Committee, for which he drafted the original committee charge in the fall of 1983; the Teaching and Education Committee; and the McLean Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. He has also been an enduring supporter of McLean’s library.

“For nearly four full decades, Terry has brought his exceptional passion and expertise to animate the full history of McLean for all of us. While bridging across those two centuries, he has equally invested himself daily in supporting our faculty, staff, and trainees to continue this institution’s mission and legacy in the modern era and forward. A man of many talents, his devotion, humility, and humanity will always be remembered fondly as central to our community and timeless,” said Scott L. Rauch, MD, McLean’s president and psychiatrist in chief.

“Terry has oriented and coached many McLean leaders over the past 37 years,” added Joseph Gold, MD, McLean’s chief medical officer (CMO). “He warmly welcomed me into my role as CMO in 2007 and taught me about credentialing and visa support for our staff—a mere fraction of his areas of rare expertise. I have so enjoyed Terry’s droll humor, extraordinary devotion to the people of our McLean community, and fascination with our history. Thank you, Terry, for all you’ve added to McLean.”

Bragg is looking forward to spending more time at his home on Cape Cod relaxing with his family—while trying to keep pace with his two granddaughters, Grace and Mabel—and gardening. He and his wife have already moved over 80 of their treasured daylilies from Grafton to his Cape home, with many rosebushes to follow. He will also continue to pursue his passion for history while away from McLean, as he has agreed to contribute his expertise to the Wellfleet Historical Society and Museum.

While we cannot do so now, we look forward to the day when we can gather as a large group to thank our beloved RPSO director and historian in person for all that he has done to support our staff over the years. In the meantime, please join us in virtually congratulating him on his momentous transition, as well as welcoming Gena Pliakas as she is promoted into her role as the RPSO’s new director on July 1, 2020.

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