Avery, Mary Ellen papers, 1929-2002 (inclusive)

Dublin Core


Avery, Mary Ellen papers, 1929-2002 (inclusive)


Mary Ellen Avery (1927-), A.B., 1948, Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts; 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 was 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. 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 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.

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 includes letters of recommendation, reports from meetings, and committee and travel correspondence. Professional records 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 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 and teaching records 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 and subject files consist of drafts and reprints of writings by Avery on such topics as respiratory distress syndrome, hyaline membrane disease, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and oral rehydration. Personal records include diaries, calendars, photographs, and certificates and awards.

Collection Items

Faculty portrait of Mary Ellen Avery
Notation on the verso reads: "MEA near 1980. Florence said - take picture now - Implication: appearances will not improve! She is right. This is my formal portrait - to hang with my predecessors in my office, for better or worse, so be it."

On Teaching
Typescript of talk on teaching with handwritten annotations.
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