The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: A Look at Local Commemorations

By Richard Jason Sookoor, Sabin Student Assistant

Dr. Sabin receiving the award for Outstanding Cincinnatian in 1963.

This is the last week of August and thus marks the finale of our Awards and Honors series. For our final post, we will take a look at how the Cincinnati community has honored Dr. Sabin. For roughly thirty years, Dr. Sabin resided in Cincinnati and continued research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital while occasionally teaching at the University of Cincinnati. During this time, he also participated in local community affairs and was often honored for his accomplishments.

One of the earliest awards Dr. Sabin received from the Cincinnati community was the Outstanding Cincinnatian in Science award from the Cincinnati Real Estate Board.[1] The organization (now renamed Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors) was founded in 1888 and is one of the oldest in Cincinnati-based groups in the city. Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 1963, the organization decided to honor Cincinnati residents who bettered the community in various ways. Dr. Sabin was among those chosen to be honored by the local group for his extensive work at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the University of Cincinnati. A photo of Dr. Sabin accepting his award is seen above.

The Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce “A Great Living Cincinnatian” awards began in 1967 as a way for the Chamber of Commerce to honor notable residents of the city. Dr. Sabin had the pleasure of being one of the first recipients of the award for his accomplishments in medical research.[2] The award was given to members of the community who helped develop Cincinnati’s image and maintained the city’s economic and community driven presence.

50th anniversary proclamation in recognition of Sabin Sunday

Cincinnati was proclaimed the first polio-free city in the United States mostly due to a county-wide clinical trial. Between April 24th and May 1st of 1960, large scale distributions of Dr. Sabin’s oral polio vaccine were given out to a total of 200,000 children. The first of these days came to be known as Sabin Sunday, a moniker earned due to the date falling on a Sunday. To mark the success of the clinical trial and observe the 50th anniversary, the City of Cincinnati proclaimed April 23, 2010 as Sabin Sunday Commemorative Day. The image of the proclamation seen here recognizes Dr. Sabin as well as the Children’s Hospital Research Foundation and the University of Cincinnati.

Cincinnati has honored Dr. Sabin in various ways due to the impact he made while here. These few examples help preserve the accomplishments of Dr. Sabin in a way that will help the younger generation remember his contributions. The 26th of August—this past Sunday—was Dr. Sabin’s Birthday. He is dearly remembered by his family and friends, admired by his colleagues, and lives on in history.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Sabin.

[1] Letter from James P. Mulford to Dr. Sabin, dated September 16, 1963. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 2, Folder 4 — Cincinnati Real Estate Board, Outstanding Cincinnatian in Science Award, 1963.
[2] Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 2, Folder 4 — Cincinnati Real Estate Board, Outstanding Cincinnatian in Science Award, 1963.

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.