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H MS c201

Avery, Mary Ellen, 1927-2011. Papers, 1929-2002 (inclusive): Finding Aid.

Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

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Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

© President and Fellows of Harvard College


The Mary Ellen Avery Papers have been processed and made available by the Archives for Women in Medicine project with generous support from our donors.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: H MS c201
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Title: Mary Ellen Avery Papers
Date(s): 1929-2002 (inclusive)
Quantity: 31.5 cubic feet (30 record cartons and 3 flat oversized boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Mary Ellen Avery Papers, 1929-2002, consist of personal and professional correspondence, teaching materials, professional activities records, grant records, articles and drafts, lectures and speeches, diaries, photographs, and other records from Avery's life and career as a pediatrician in: Boston, Massachusetts; Montreal, Quebec; and Baltimore, Maryland and as a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Boston, where she was the first woman to chair a major department. She was the first female Physician-in-Chief at Children's Hospital, Boston. In 1959, Avery discovered that the lack of lung surfactant in premature infants causes respiratory distress syndrome.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The Mary Ellen Avery Papers were gifted to the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine by Mary Ellen Avery, 1999-2003, and were delivered in four accessions: 2000-001; 2000-031; 2001-064; and 2003-054.

Processing Information:

Processed by Meghan Bannon and Jessica Sedgwick, April 2010.
Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the papers, and created a finding aid to improve access. Items were removed from three ring binders and, where necessary, photocopied to acid-free paper. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals when available; titles supplied by the processing staff appear in brackets on the physical folders.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access requires advance notice. Access to Harvard University records is restricted for 50 years from the date of record creation. Access to personal information about individuals and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of record creation. Both University records and personal information appear in all series of the collection (Series I-VIII). Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult the Public Services Librarian for further information.
The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to contact reference staff for more information concerning retrieval of material.

Conditions Governing Use:

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all the materials in the collection. Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to the Public Services Librarian. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Public Services Librarian are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright. Reference Services and Access Information.

Digitized Items:

Selected items from this collection have been scanned and are available for download from our digital repository: http://repository.countway.harvard.edu/xmlui/handle/10473/3873
To provide context, links to items in the digital repository are also provided with the folder title in which they physically reside.

Preferred Citation:

Mary Ellen Avery Papers, 1929-2002 (inclusive). H MS c201. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

Related Collections in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Countway Library, Harvard Medical School

Related Collections in the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

Separations

Three vials of sheep lung surfactant used by Mary Ellen Avery in her infant respiratory distress syndrome research were transferred to the Warren Anatomical Museum (catalog #20451).

Biographical Note

Mary Ellen Avery (1927-), A.B., 1948, Wheaton College, Illinois; M.D., 1952, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, was Thomas Morgan Rotch Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and Physician-in-Chief Emeritus at Children's Hospital, Boston. Avery is known for discovering in 1959 that the lack of lung surfactant in premature infants caused respiratory distress syndrome. Avery was the first woman to chair a major department at Harvard Medical School, and the first female Physician-in-Chief at Children's Hospital, Boston.
Mary Ellen Avery was on born on 6 May 1927 in Camden, New Jersey. She attended Wheaton College, received an A.B. in 1948, and was awarded a M.D. from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1952. After graduating from medical school, Avery was a research fellow in pediatrics with Dr. Clement Smith at Harvard Medical School (1957-1959), and later a fellow in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University (1959-1960). At Johns Hopkins, Avery went on to become Assistant Professor in Pediatrics (1960) and the Eudowood Associate Professor of Pulmonary Disease of Children (1965). During this time, Avery was also Pediatrician-in-Charge at Johns Hopkins Hospital. After nine years at Johns Hopkins, Avery moved to Canada to become Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at McGill University, Montreal, as well as Physician-in-Chief of Montreal Children's Hospital, Quebec province. In 1974, Avery returned to Harvard Medical School and was named the Thomas Morgan Rotch Professor of Pediatrics, as well as Physician-in-Chief at Children's Hospital, Boston, a position she held until 1985. As Physician-in-Chief, Avery established the Joint Program in Neonatology with Beth Israel and Peter Bent Brigham Hospitals.
Throughout her career, Avery studied lung biochemistry, surface tension, and pulmonary physiology. She is known for her discovery of pulmonary surfactant while a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. She has been awarded numerous honors, including the National Medal of Science in 1991, the John Howland Medal, and the Virginia Apgar Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others. Avery served on the Board of Directors for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. She was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and President of the American Pediatric Society.
During the course of her career, Avery authored numerous articles and book chapters, and edited several books, including, Diseases of the Newborn with Alexander J. Schaffer (later editions with H. William Taeusch, Jr.), and Born Early: The Story of a Premature Baby (1983), co-authored with Georgia Litwack. In addition to her writing and professional activities, Avery traveled across the world as an invited speaker at symposiums and conferences, and as a visiting professor.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

Scope and Content

The Mary Ellen Avery Papers, 1929-2002, consist of personal and professional correspondence, teaching materials, professional activities records, grant records, articles and drafts, lectures and speeches, diaries, photographs, and other records from Avery's life and career as a pediatrician in: Boston, Massachusetts; Montreal, Quebec; and Baltimore, Maryland and as a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Correspondence (Series I) includes letters of recommendation, reports from meetings, and committee and travel correspondence. Professional records (Series II) consist of correspondence, reports, patient records, notes, newspaper clippings, committee materials, and other records chronicling Avery's involvement and interactions with professional organizations, committees, publications, and institutions, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Joint Program in Neonatology, the American Pediatric Society, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Professional records also contain correspondence and reports from the Joint Program in Neonatology, Children's Hospital, Boston, Montreal Children's Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. Grants records (Series III) consist of applications, renewal forms, correspondence, budgets, reports, and other materials related to grants from the National Institutes of Health and Specialized Centers of Research that Avery was involved with, as well as correspondence with the National Tuberculosis Association. Lectures (Series IV) and teaching records (Series V) contain speech drafts, correspondence, syllabi, and notes from Avery's travels around the world as a guest lecturer and as a professor at Harvard Medical School. Writings (Series VI) and subject files (Series VII) consist of drafts and reprints of writings by Avery on such topics as respiratory distress syndrome, hyaline membrane disease, pulmonary , bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and oral rehydration. Personal records (Series VIII) include diaries, calendars, photographs, and certificates and awards.
Please note that the abbreviation "MEA" was employed by the records creator on folder titles and stands for "Mary Ellen Avery."
Materials are entirely in English.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
Hyaline membrane disease.
Lungs -- Diseases.
Medicine -- Study and teaching.
Neonatology.
Oral rehydration therapy for infants.
Pediatrics.
Pediatrics -- Research.
Pulmonary surfactant.
Respiratory distress syndrome.
Women--Diaries.
Women in medicine.
Women physicians.
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
Fluid Therapy
Hyaline Membrane Disease
Neonatology
Pediatrics
Pulmonary Medicine
Pulmonary Surfactants
Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn
Physicians, Women
Pediatricians.
Avery, Mary Ellen, 1927-2011
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
American Pediatric Society.
Children's Hospital (Boston, Mass.)
Endicott House.
Harvard Medical School.
Harvard Medical School--Administration.
Harvard Medical School--Faculty.
Joint Program in Neonatology.
Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Johns Hopkins University.
Montréal Children's Hospital.
McGill University.
National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
National Tuberculosis Association.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

med00128