The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: The Personal Side of Dr. Sabin

By Richard Jason Sookoor, Sabin Project Student Assistant

Dr. and Mrs. Sabin feeding deer at a temple in Japan.

I’ve been working with the Sabin Archives for a little over three months now and am still somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of material Dr. Sabin accumulated during his long career. So when we recently received a shipment of even more materials from Mrs. Sabin and her son, I was rather surprised. Not simply because there were items we didn’t have – because judging by where we store our archival collections, it seems we have everything Dr. Sabin ever touched – but because of the amount we received. Looking over the boxes, it’s hard to imagine how one person could amass this amount of materials. Dr. Sabin kept himself quite busy, it seems.

The newly received material has already been roughly organized into boxes. Browsing through the organized materials, I instantly go to the photo albums. A picture is worth a thousand words they say, and I do enjoy looking at albums. One of the first albums I came across was an album of Dr. Sabin’s visit to Japan. (Perhaps you remember seeing a picture of me rifling through this particular album in a previous blog post.) The album consists of pictures of Dr. Sabin’s trip to Japan in 1980 and most of the photos are of a casual nature. There is a photo Dr. Sabin dancing and another of him feeding deer. A good number of the pictures show him enjoying a casual lunch or dinner with friends and colleagues. This sort of softens the image of Dr. Sabin. We often hear about his commitment to his work and his rather forward personality, and sometimes that lends itself to a certain image. However, watching him happily feed chips to a deer in a Shinto temple reminds us that Dr. Sabin was more than just his work.

Dr. Sabin meeting Paraguayan President Alfredo Stroessner in 1985.

After looking through the album, it’s placed back into a neatly organized box of other photo albums. Visible are albums marked “Panama” and “Paraguay” as well as a multitude of others. The Paraguay album was rather interesting. It summarized Dr. Sabin’s trip to Paraguay to receive the National Order of Merit, announce the first National Day of Anti-polio Vaccination, and to meet President Alfredo Stroessner. This trip was a scheduled destination as part of the Rotary International inspired PolioPlus tour which spanned several countries in Central and South America.[1]

About this collection, one thing is for certain – the more materials we get about Dr. Sabin, the better we’ll be able to understand him as a person. Much of what has been collected in the Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives is viewable to the public. We always encourage people to come by and admire Dr. Sabin’s work. Or at least come by and admire our effort in preserving his work! Feel free to contact the Winkler Center at or (513) 558-5120 if you would like to schedule an appointment!

[1] “World Understanding, World Peace, and Polio” by Dr. Albert B. Sabin, 1985. Found in Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series Awards and Honors, Box 5, Folder 5.

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.