The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: Connecting Collections

Letter from Dr. Walters to Dr. Sabin, March 6, 1960

Among some of Dr. Sabin’s general files is a letter exchange between him and Dr. Raymond Walters, who was President of the University of Cincinnati from 1932 until 1955. These two short letters, dated March 1960, discuss an upcoming engagement where Dr. Sabin was speaking. These letters piqued my interest because the Archives and Rare Books Library on the University of Cincinnati campus has President Emeritus Walters’s manuscript collection (UA-73-20). I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of Dr. Walters’s diaries to get an outside perspective on Dr. Sabin.

The event in question was the U.C. Day Dinner at the Sheraton-Gibson on April 21, 1960. According to President Walters, Dr. Sabin spoke to over 500 alumni, faculty, and friends about the “enormous variety of species and what produces them; heredity vs. environment; reports on the inheritance of acquired character” and more. However, it was noted that Dr. Sabin did not speak of polio or his oral polio vaccine. President Walters wrote in his diary that Dr. Sabin’s speech was “one of the best in the long series” of U.C. Day Dinners.

Letter from Dr. Sabin to Dr. Walters, March 16, 1960

Since Dr. Walters pointed out that Dr. Sabin didn’t speak of the oral polio vaccine, I thought I would delve further to see if it would come up. Just a couple days after Dr. Sabin’s speech at the Sheraton-Gibson, his oral polio vaccine was distributed to children in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. (See my blog post on Sabin Sundays for more information.) Since President Walters not only recorded personal stories, but also local, national, and international events in his diary, he wrote on April 25, 1960 about the event. At the top of the diary’s page, he noted, “Nearly 20,000 children received the Sabin anti-polio vacine [sic] orally administered, in Cincinnati yesterday.” The next day, members of his family received the oral polio vaccine at the Sabin residence.

Reading further into the diary, it looks like Dr. Walters later presented Dr. Sabin an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. A newspaper clipping that was pasted into the diary on June 3, 1960 quoted Dr. Walters as saying, “It is appropriate that the College-Conservatory of Music, which has long stood for music as one of the Humanities, should proclaim this scientist, physician and teacher as being a man of culture, a lover of music and a devotee of the humanities.”

Photograph of Dr. Walters (right) and Dr. Sabin (center) receiving a check from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Courtesy Archives and Rare Books Library, University of Cincinnati.

I gained a wealth of information just looking through a couple months of Dr. Walters’ diary. In the future, I would like to highlight more of the connections between Dr. Sabin’s collection and others at UC, as well as other institutions. If you have a suggestion of a collection that I should research for its connections to Dr. Sabin, feel free to email me at

If you would like to learn more about Raymond Walters and his interesting collection over at Archives and Rare Books, check out the library’s finding aid for the collection. I also want to thank Suzanne Maggard, Reference/Collections Librarian at the Archives and Rare Books Library, for all of her help!

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.