Big excitement! I wrote to Elliot Valenstein, author of Great and Desperate Cures, one of the go-to lobotomy histories, and he wrote back. He said that when he wrote his book, back in the eighties, the Freeman/Watts collection at the GWU library was in total disarray and he was just allowed to rummage through it and read whatever he wanted, including patient records. Now this was a bad thing and also I believe an illegal one, because back then a substantial number of those patients were still alive, and Dr. Valenstein says that some time thereafter GWU realized this and got the files in order and restricted access to them. Which is good, except for how it means that now that almost all those patients are dead, and Walter is dead, and James Watts is dead, and Jonathan Williams (who was Walter's assistant after Walter broke up with James Watts) is dead, GWU won't let me at those files. Those fifty-one shelf feet of files. That I am not allowed to read. Though it's possible the library made this rule up specifically for me, because they heard I was coming and figured I would actually chew on the records if given access to them.
I'm grateful that Howard Dully published big chunks of his own file in My Lobotomy. That's where I got the phrase "my nefarious doings." Walter uses this term ironically to refer to the lobotomy he performed on twelve-year-old Howard. Imagine fifty-one shelf feet of files packed with phrases like that!
Anyway, it is from Dr. Valenstein's book that I got this exchange. There is also a very good photograph of Walter looking quite the Famous Doctor, with his mild inquisitive expression and his neat little beard, a sable silvered, and that slight leftward tilt of his head. There is no denying that he was a good-looking man. I was going to scan that page for you, just to prove that Walter really was handsome and while I may be a weirdo this is not further evidence of it, but I have enough to worry about and besides it will be very awkward if you don't agree. I'll do it later.