More than twenty pioneer physicians, administrators, and board members discuss their roles in the development of this innovative health maintenance organization. The interviews were conducted between 1984 and 1999 as the series: "History of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program—Founding Generation." The interviews were underwritten by the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan/Hospitals.

Beginning in 2005, the Regional Oral History Office embarked on a second series of interviews looking at Kaiser Permanente and the transformation of health care in the U.S. from 1970 to present. Interview transcripts and related materials are available at Kaiser Permanente, 1970-Present.

Henry J. Kaiser: Think Big
Oakland Museum of California
History Special Gallery

Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park
Richmond, California
Design team: Susan Schwartzenberg and Cheryl Barton

The memorial is located next to former Kaiser Shipyards, which were the largest and most productive during World War II. The memorial contains photographs and texts, which portrays the scope of women's movement on the home front across the nation. For more information, please visit

David Adelson
(b. 1910), 1986, 93 pp.
Surgeon; medical administrator

David Adelson was a Kaiser Permanente attorney starting in 1945. His career stretched from chemist to legal aid to Kaiser patient, and his family has a strong association with the healthcare program even when business affiliations are excepted.

Morris Collen
(b. 1913), 1988, 259 pp.
Internist; authority in medical computing; medical administrator

Morris Collen was a long-term member and chairman of the Permanente Medical Group of the executive committee. In his interview, Collen relates his major role in formulating policies critical to the development of the Kaiser Medical Care Program.

Wallace Cook
(b.1920), 1987, 117 pp.
Surgeon; medical administrator

Wallace H. Cook was Kaiser's first physician in chief, but he also served as chief of staff and primary operating surgeon for the Walnut Creek healthcare program. Cook refers to himself as a "benevolent dictator" in his various roles throughout three decades at Kaiser.
Cecil Cutting
(b.1910), 1986, 93 pp.
Surgeon; medical administrator

Cecil Cutting was a pioneer physician in prepaid medical care whose work began at the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington and eventually led him to the executive directorship of the Northern California Permanente Medical Group in San Francisco.
Scott Fleming
(b. 1923), 1997, 222 pp.
Lawyer, health plan administrator

Scott Fleming was an attorney specializing in business and tax law who joined the legal department of the Kaiser Company in 1952. He served as the counsel to Kaiser when it was rife with the most turmoil.
Alice Friedman
(b. 1920), 1986, 93 pp.

Alice Friedman was one of the most important physicians in the history of Kaiser, even more significant given that she was one of the healthcare program's first female doctors. Her career included ventures into the fields of pediatrics and nutrition.
Lambreth Hancock
(b. 1917) 1987, 127 pp.

Lambreth Hancock was noted for his instrumental work during the construction of Kaiser's services in Hawaii. Hancock began his life as a journalist on the mainland but eventually became a public relations man for the island operations.
Frank Jones
(1909-1987), 1987, 186 pp.

Frank Jones was the epitome of a high riser, moving through the ranks from welder to salesman to Kaiser vice president. The interview discusses a number of milestones in Kaiser's service history, specifically in the Northern California area.
Raymond Kay
(1904-1997),1987, 186 pp.

Raymond Kay was a highly effective physician and medical administrator in Kaiser's Southern California operations. Kay's interview discusses the many trials and tribulations of the Fontana site whose problems were separate from those in Northern California.
Clifford Keene
(1910-2000), 1986, 165 pp.

Clifford H. Keene was both president and C.E.O. of Kaiser, a leading figure in the nation's largest healthcare system. A sometime adherent to Buddhist principles, Keene comments on a number of harrowing times in his life as both a soldier and HMO head.
Benjamin Lewis
(1909-1998), 1987, 41 pp.

Benjamin Lewis was another preeminent member of Kaiser's Southern California operations. Lewis trailblazed prepaid medical care at many levels including fee-for-service care on the Navajo reservation and later on at the influential San Diego Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program.
George Link
(1917-1987), 1986, 77 pp.

George E. Link was a prominent member of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan/Kaiser Foundation Hospitals starting in 1955. His interview portrays him as a highly organized individual whose management skills dates back to his times as a tax attorney.

Clair Lisker
(b. 1927), 1984, 200 pp.

Clair Lisker began her career at Kaiser Permanente as a student nurse in 1948.  She later helped develop and lead the nursing education program.  She was a hospital nursing administrator when she retired in 1991.  Her interview discusses the development of nursing care philosophy and practices over the decades.
Berniece Oswald
(1909-1998),1987, 41 pp.

Berniece Oswald was regional controller of the Northwest Care Program for Kaiser Medical Care. Beginning as a modest accountant, Oswald rose through the ranks of Kaiser's Oregon operations to become an imporant administrative head of the Portland Medical Program.
Sam Packer
(b. 1915), 1986, 85 pp.

Sam Packer was president and medical director of the Kaiser Medical Group in Ohio. His interview reveals that he was not a manager by nature, but his skills allowed him to transplant the Kaiser method into the Midwest.
Wilbur L. Reimers
(b. 1919), 1987, 87 pp.

Wilbur M. Reimers started a successful solo fee-for-service practice in general surgery and later developed an interest in Kaiser's prepaid group practice, medical economics included. Reimers had to deal with operating hospitals only partially affiliated with Kaiser.
Ernest Saward
(1914-1989), 1986, 118 pp.

Ernest W. Saward was a medical director of the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan from 1945 to 1970. He relates how he was able to streamline the Oregon division of Kaiser into one of the group's most successful.
Harry Shragg
(b.1924), 1987, 149 pp.

During three decades with Kaiser Permanente, Harry Shragg served in a number of capacities throughout Southern California. From surgeon to fee-for-service administrator, Shragg has been a regional director since 1971.
John Smilie
(1917-2000), 1987, 145 pp.

John G. Smillie's twenty-two years as an administrator, led him to serve as chief of Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief for Kaiser Permanente at San Francisco, and as assistant to the program's executive director, Dr. Cecil Cutting.
Eugene Trefethen, Jr.
(1914-1996), 1986, 99 pp.

Eugene Trefethen was one of the most important Kaiser Health Care Program's executives based in the Northern California area. The Trefethen family, and especially Eugene, was also highly involved in the practice of viticulture, a passion he speaks about effusively.
James A. Vohs
(b. 1928), 1999, 257 pp. [This transcript is available for reading in The Bancroft and UCLA Libraries.]

James Vohs spent thirty-four years as health plan manager, chairman, and C.E.O. of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. Vohs started in the labor division of Kaiser but was soon recognized for his managerial skills.
Avram Yedidia
(1911-1990), 1987, 103 pp. $53

Avram Yedida was a highly regarded health care economist and a revered pioneer of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program. His story recounts his humble beginnings in Tel Aviv up to his collegiate and professional success in the Bay Area.

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