Libraries Awarded NEH Grant to Digitize the Correspondence and Photographs of Albert B. Sabin

Albert SabinThe University of Cincinnati Libraries have received a $314,258 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize the correspondence and photographs of Albert B. Sabin, developer of the oral polio vaccine and distinguished service professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Research Foundation from 1939-1969.

The primary source documents to be digitized include 35,000 letters totaling 50,000 pages of correspondence between Sabin and political, cultural, social, and scientific leaders around the world. Also included will be 1,000 photographs documenting the events and activities worldwide that were part of Sabin’s crusade to eradicate polio.

“The impact of Sabin’s influence on biomedical research and global public health won’t be fully understood until scholars have a chance to mine his archives effectively,” said Stephen Marine, University of Cincinnati Libraries assistant dean of special collections and the project’s principal investigator.  “By digitizing and publishing his papers on the Web and enhancing those documents with metadata, scholars worldwide will not only have instantaneous access to the materials but will have tools – available for few other such collections – to explore names, subjects, and themes.”

The correspondence and photographs are part of the Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives. Sabin’s wife, Heloisa, donated his papers, medals, and other artifacts to the University of Cincinnati upon his death in 1993. They reside in the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions where they have been organized and preserved with the support of the John Hauck Foundation. The Sabin Archives are of unique historical significance from the 1930s to the 1990s, with special social, political, and ethical relevance to humanities researchers. The collection includes: correspondence, laboratory notebooks, manuscripts, microscope slides, awards and medals, honorary diplomas, and audio and video recordings covering every phase of Sabin’s career, including research into poliomyelitis and many other infectious diseases, his military service, his professional affiliations, and his professional and personal engagements.

The digitizing of the correspondence and photographs will begin in July for completion in June 2013. The digitized documents and images will be freely available on the Web. In addition, a finding aid will be available to assist users in locating items within the collection.

The digitization of the correspondence and photographs of Albert Sabin has been designated a NEH “We the People” project, an initiative to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture through the support of projects that explore significant events and themes in our nation’s history and culture and that advance knowledge of the principles that define America.

For more on the Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives and the digitization of the correspondence and photographs, contact the Winkler Center at (513) 558-5120 or chhp@uc.edu.

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