What do Betty White, George Bush, Pope John Paul II and Whoopi Goldberg all have in common with Dr. Albert Bruce Sabin? They were all named Kentucky Colonels!
In Dr. Sabin’s archives is a letter and membership card from the Honorable Order of the Kentucky Colonels. I found these documents to be interesting, especially since one of my colleagues working on the Sabin grant, Linda Newman, is also a Kentucky Colonel. The mission statement of this exclusive organization is “[t]he Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Inc. is irrevocably dedicated to and is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes…” The Colonels support many different causes, such as purchasing wheelchairs and books for children, in order to support their mission.
In May 1962, Dr. Sabin received a letter from Colonel Anna Friedman Goldman, who was the Secretary and Keeper of the Great Seal of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. According to the Kentucky Colonel website, Colonel Anna Friedman Goldman would help to establish many Kentucky Colonel traditions over her 40 years. This letter welcomed Dr. Sabin into the historical organization.
(Although you’ll notice that Dr. Sabin’s name is spelled “Savin” in Colonel Goldman’s letter. The Sabin name was apparently not yet a household word in Kentucky!)
As you can see from the letter, Dr. Sabin was appointed to the rank of Colonel by the Kentucky Governor, Bertram Thomas Combs. Governor Combs served the state of Kentucky from 1959 to 1963, and according to the New York Times, was “a Democrat who championed fiscal reforms and civil rights.” The Kentucky Colonel website says that “[o]nly the Governor knows the reason for bestowing the honor of a Colonel’s Commission on any particular individual.” Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a connection between Dr. Sabin and Governor Combs to learn why Dr. Sabin received the distinction of being a Kentucky Colonel. As I learn more about the collection, I hope to find out this connection. If you know, please let me know.
As I move into the second phase of the Sabin digitization grant, I am looking forward to digging deeper into the collection and finding these kinds of stories and connections to share with you. I hope that you will stick around and learn about Dr. Sabin with me!
In 2010, the University of Cincinnati Libraries received a $314,258 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize the correspondence and photographs of Dr. Albert B. Sabin. This digitization project 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. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.