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Albert B. Sabin Papers (Addendum)

Identifier: WC-AS-2012

Scope and Content

This addendum to the Sabin archives occupies 15 linear feet and consists of correspondence, laboratory notebooks, manuscripts, and other research papers generated by Sabin during his long and active medical career. It also includes extensive coverage of the Weizmann Institute of Science during Albert Sabin's tenure. The Finding Aid for the original Sabin archive collection consisting of nearly 400 linear feet can be found at


  • 1930-1993


Language of Materials

The records are in English

Restrictions on Access

Series or folders marked [RESTRICTED] contain confidential patient information. Access will be granted on an as needed basis.

Restrictions on Use

Series or folders marked [RESTRICTED] contain confidential patient information. Researchers may neither USE nor REVEAL BY NAME OR ASSOCIATION the identity of any individual whose health information is in a document of record without the express written permission from the persons named or their legal guardians or heirs.

Biography of Albert B. Sabin, 1906-1993

Dr. Albert Sabin, developer of the oral, live virus polio vaccine, began his career in biomedical research in 1926 while still a student at New York University where he received his M.D. degree. He worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research from 1935-1939. From 1939 through 1969, Dr. Sabin was successively Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Research Pediatrics, and Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and The Children's Hospital Research Foundation. A Lieutenant Colonel, he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps as a member of the Epidemiological Board from February 1943 to September 1945. His work included studies on sandfly fever, and the development of vaccines against dengue fever and Japanese B encephalitis. From 1970, he served successively as President of the Weizmann Institute of Science (1970-72), full-time expert consultant of the U.S. National Cancer Institute (1974), Distinguished Research Professor of Biomedicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (1974-82), and Senior Expert Consultant at the Fogarty International Center for Advanced Studies in the Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (1984-86). In 1986 at the age of 80, Dr. Sabin retired from his full-time positions but continued part-time at the Fogarty International Center as a Senior Medical Science Advisor and a lecturer in the United States and abroad. In 1988 poor health and increasing physical disability forced Dr. Sabin into complete retirement. In 1960, after extensive, worldwide preliminary trials, Dr. Sabin's oral polio vaccine was first used in about 100 million children in Europe. While it was approved for use in the U.S. in late 1960, it was not until 1962-64 that about 100 million persons of all ages received the vaccine in the U.S. It is estimated that from 1965-66, worldwide use of the vaccine prevented about 5 million cases of paralytic polio and 500,000 deaths. In 1972, in an unprecedented humanitarian gesture, he donated the strains of the polio virus to World Health Organization to increase their availability to developing countries. Before going to Cincinnati in 1939, Dr. Sabin was noted for his work of fundamental studies on poliomyelitis and other viruses causing diseases of the nervous system, the protozoan parasite toxoplasma, and arthritis. During the 30 years in Cincinnati, his work on human poliomyelitis and the complex properties of the polio viruses had the greatest practical impact. He also worked on arthropod-borne viruses and the human diseases they cause, such as dengue, sandfly fever, and Japanese B Encephalitis. He also worked on the genetics of natural resistance to certain viruses and the discovery of the unique dye test for toxoplasma antibody that greatly elucidated the role of this parasite in human disease. Dr. Sabin served on many advisory committees on medical research, including those of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Armed Forces, World Health Organization, and Pan American Health Organization. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (elected in 1951), American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Association of the American Physicians, American Pediatric Society, and many other professional societies in the U.S. and abroad, including the U.S.S.R. Academy of Medical Sciences. Dr. Sabin received forty-six honorary degrees from U.S. and foreign universities. His numerous awards include the U.S. National Medal of Science (1970), Presidential Medal of Freedom (1986), Medal of Liberty (1986), Order of Friendship among Peoples awarded by the President of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. (1986), and from the President of Brasil, the Ordem Cruzeiro do Sul, Grande Oficial (1986) and Gran Cruz Ordem do Rio Branco (1991). When the National Medal of Science was presented to Dr. Sabin in 1970 by the President of the United States, the citation read, "For numerous fundamental contributions to the understanding of viruses and viral diseases, culminating in the development of the vaccine which has eliminated poliomyelitis as a major threat to human health." When the definitive history of the twentieth century is written, the achievements of medicine will occupy a significant place, and within that history Dr. Albert B. Sabin will occupy a preeminent position. Throughout the world he is one of the most recognizable and revered names in medical sciences. In the 1960s, Dr. John R. Paul, Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology at Yale University, wrote about Albert Sabin in his history of poliomyelitis, "No man has ever contributed so much effective information and so continuously over so many years to so many aspects of poliomyelitis as Sabin." Dr. Sabin continued into his eighties to have a powerful and significant impact on the international scientific community in his capacity as medical statesman, consultant, and lecturer. His contributions were not just in the scientific realm but included a more global perspective of humanitarianism. He became a "courier of peace" and fought the diseases of ignorance and poverty by espousing the same strategies of mutual trust and international cooperation which led to the conquest of poliomyelitis. Dr. Sabin died in 1993, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


15 Linear Feet


This collection consists of the personal and professional papers of Albert B. Sabin, who developed the oral polio vaccine while at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and The Children's Hospital Research Foundation. This is an addendum to the original collection. The finding aid for the original Albert B. Sabin archive collection can be found at

Statement of Arrangement

This part of the Albert B. Sabin archive collection follows the format of the original collection (see This addendum to the original collection is organized into twelve series, each with several sub-series. The arrangement is generally by topic, format, and then chronological. Occasionally, the format is emphasized followed by a topical, then chronological arrangement. Lastly, some materials lend themselves only to a format, chronological structure. 1. Correspondence 2. Laboratory Notebooks and Other Notes 3. Laboratory Photos 4. Manuscripts 5. Military Service 6. Miscellaneous 7. Oral Polio Vaccine 8. Other Diseases Researched 9. Poliomyelitis 10. Professional Affiliations and Memberships 11. Professional and Personal Engagements 12. Reference Material

Physical Location

Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions

Other Finding Aid

The finding aid for the original Albert B. Sabin archives collection can be found at .

Acquisition Information

This part of the collection was given to the university by Dr. Sabin's widow, Heloisa Sabin, after 1993.

Related/Separated Material

This collection is an addendum to the original and much larger Albert B. Sabin archives collection located at the Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives, Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio. The finding aid for the original collection can be found at

Finding aid for the Albert B. Sabin Papers (Addendum)
Edited Full Draft
Finding aid prepared by Mary Kroeger Vuyk
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), 2010-2013

Repository Details

Part of the University of Cincinnati, Health Sciences Library, Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions Repository

Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library
231 Albert Sabin Way
Cincinnati Ohio 45267-0574