Skip to main content

Averill A. Liebow Collection

Call Number: Ms Coll 28

Scope and Contents

This collection relates to the pathological studies in Hiroshima after the bombing conducted by Liebow and his colleague on the Joint Commission for the Investigation of the Effects of the Atomic Bomb. The main portion consists of the materials from a 1965 exhibit at Yale University which was then sent for exhibit in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1966.. It included portions of Liebow's original shorthand diary, correspondence, and reproductions of original photographs, charts and graphs. These document the damage to buildings, casualties, the flash burns and other injuries suffered by individuals, a case report, and other work of the Joint Committee. Much, but not all, of this material was published in “Encounter with Disaster: A Medical Diary of Hiroshima 1945,” Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 38(2) (October 1965). The exhibit materials have been numbered by Madeline Stanton in Roman numerals by "case" and then with Arabic numerals (I.1, I.2, etc.). The collection also contains other items by Liebow among them, shorthand notes, typescripts, and another case report. Finally, the collection includes various typescripts and reprints related to the medical studies.


  • 1945-1966
  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 1966


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Yale University does not own copyright.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Averill A. Liebow to the Medical Historical Library.


Organized in three series: 1. The exhibit. 2. Additional Liebow materials. 3. Other writings and reprints.


3.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Averill A. Liebow, professor of pathology at Yale School of Medicine, was a member of the Joint Commission for the Investigation of the Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan organized by Col. Ashley W. Oughterson, on leave from Yale. Liebow spent four months in Hiroshima beginning in October 1945 and kept a diary. The collection contains photographs and documents from an exhibit on the Joint Commission and the medical effects of the bomb in Hiroshima that was prepared for the Medical Library in 1965 and then loaned for display in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1966.

Biographical / Historical

A native of Austria, Averill Liebow came to the United States as a young boy. He graduated magnum cum laude from City College of New York, and received his medical degree from Yale University in 1935. Appointed an assistant in pathology at Yale in 1935, he rose through the ranks to full professor in 1951. In 1968 he accepted the chairmanship of the department of pathology at the University of California, San Diego, which he held until his retirement in 1975. While on active duty during World War II, Liebow served as a pathologist with the 39th General Hospital, the Yale Unit in the South Pacific. During this time, he compiled elegant studies of cutaneous diphtheria that made specific treatment possible for a form of “jungle rot,” which was a major problem in the South Pacific theater of the war. Immediately after the war, Liebow was recruited as a member of the Joint Commission for the Investigation of the Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan organized by Col. Ashley W. Oughterson, on leave from Yale, and Prof. Masao Tsuzuki of Japan. Liebow and the members of the Commission reached Hiroshima on October 12. During the four months Liebow remained in Hiroshima, he wrote an extensive diary in shorthand of his observations.

Appendix: Exhibit Case Contents

See case labels for more information.

Case 1: “The Joint Commission for Investigation of the Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan. Planning and Personnel”

  1. I.1 Origins of Joint Commission.
  2. I.2 Col. Ashley Webster Oughterson
  3. I.3 Personnel of the Joint Commission (names)
  4. I.4 Medical Personnel of the Joint Commission (names)
  5. I.5 Memorandum of Oughterson to Gen. Guy B. Denit
  6. I.6 Members of the Joint Commission - – see oversize photos
  7. I.7 Dr. Masao "Tsuzuki," Tokyo Imperial University
  8. I.7a Business card for Dr. “Suzuki”
  9. I.8 Captain J. D. Rosenbaum, on leave from Yale University
  10. I.9 Tokyo Imperial University campus, 1945
  11. I.10 Institute of Pathology, Tokyo Imperial University (exterior)
  12. I.11 Members of Joint Commission: Rosenbaum, Kramer, Loge
  13. I.12a Top: Members of the Joint Commission (Japanese members) Bottom: Dr. Ishii and two assistants
  14. I.12b Members of Pathology Section
  15. I.13 Tokyo First Military Hospital (exterior)
  16. I.14 List of “Japanese young doctors”

Case 2: “Joint Commission. Organization of Initial Problems and Activities”

  1. II.1 Orders establishing the Joint Commission
  2. II.2 Orders providing broad authority for the medical study at Hiroshima
  3. II.3 Scribbled notes indicating possible sources of supplies for the Joint Commission
  4. II.4 42nd General Hospital, the major U.S. medical installation, Tokyo
  5. II.5 List of supplies requested
  6. II.6 Item from Japan Times, regarding the typhoon of September 17, 1945
  7. II.7 Receipt for rations and supplies used by Joint Commission
  8. II.8 Copy of early report by Japanese medical officers and scientists on studies of bomb casualties
  9. II.9 Landslide damage at Ono Hospital, September 17, 1945
  10. II.10 Tasks of the Joint Commission (list)
  11. II.11 Record forms used by the Joint Commission, English and Japanese – see oversize documents
  12. II.12 Receipt for jeeps
  13. II.13 Air passenger list for Hiroshima

Case 3: “Hiroshima. Physical Damage”

  1. III.1 Termachi-dori, Street of many temples, in Hiroshima, pre-bombing.
  2. III.2 Copy of Japanese map of Hiroshima with ring zones superimposed
  3. III.3 Schematic map with ring zones used by the Joint Commission
  4. III.4 Aerial photograph, pre-bombing
  5. III.5 Hiroshima, post-bombing
  6. III.5 Panoramic Photograph of Hiroshima, pre-bombing.
  7. III.6 Pre-war view of Hiroshima from Mt. Hiji
  8. III.7 View across hypocenter toward the Geibi and Sanwa Bank buildings (color)
  9. III.8 Sake cups from Sanwa bank, tiles and vase found in rubble (not in collection, removed by Liebow)
  10. III.9 Scene in Japanese military area
  11. III.10 Inspection by Japanese officer of military shelter in headquarters area, August 9, 1945
  12. III.11 Aioibashi (“T” Bridge) before the strike -- postcard
  13. III.11a Bridge after the strike
  14. III.12 Views of Hiroshima on arrival, October 12, 1945.
  15. III.12a View across hypocenter from Sanwa bank.
  16. III.12b Aerial view across Hiroshima (Oct. 1945)
  17. III.12c View of Chamber of Commerce Building from Businessmen's Club.
  18. III.13 Twisted steel of theater building, 800m from hypocenter
  19. III.14 Ruins of Shima Hospital (Chamber of Commerce) before
  20. III.14a Chamber of Commerce Building after strike
  21. III.14b Close-up of rubble

Case 4: "Effects of Heat, Trauma, and Radiation"

  1. IV.1 “Shadow” of leaf of caster plant, October 31, 1945
  2. IV.2 Shadow of person on Banti Bridge (1,000 meters from hypocenter)
  3. IV.3 Captain Charles Brownell standing in the position of exposed person at the moment of explosion.
  4. IV.4 Shadows of human beings and hand cart on Bantai bridge
  5. IV.5 Flash burn of an orange
  6. IV.6 Shadow of valve on gas storage tank
  7. IV.7 Rice paper name card. Differential of dark and light surfaces in absorbing heat.
  8. IV.8 “Shadow” of granite of monument near entrance to military encampment
  9. IV.9 Flash burn in acute stage
  10. IV.10 Officer exposed in military area
  11. IV.10a Profile-like nature of flash burns
  12. IV.12 Typical profile burn. The patient was a nurse at the Red Cross Hospital
  13. IV.13 Shadow on the prison wall at Hiroshima, 2,300 meters
  14. IV.14 Mask-like burn with hyperpigmentation
  15. IV.15 Differential absorption of heat by darker portions of clothing
  16. IV.15b Scorching of the dark blue stripe with less effect on the lighter stripes by heat waves at 17,000 meters.
  17. IV.15c 20 year-old female subject with ray burns
  18. IV.15d. 20 year-old female subject with ray burns
  19. IV.16 Multiple injuries caused by flying glass
  20. IV.17 Petechiæ associated with aplastic anemia
  21. IV.18 Ulceration of gingivae with osteomyelitis of jaw and loss of teeth
  22. IV.19 Epilation in patient exposed within 1500 meters [item not in collection?]
  23. IV.20 Epilation in young girl

Case 5: “Early Aid Stations. Hospitals and Clinics”

  1. V.1 Street shortly after explosion, August 6, 1945
  2. V.2 Temporary tents - Hiroshima Second Army Hospital
  3. V.3 Nurse ministering to burned and injured patients
  4. V.4 Burned and injured patients
  5. V.5 Military ambulance, August 9, 1945
  6. V.6 Fukuromachi Aid Station
  7. V.7 Outpatient clinic at Fukuromachi, October 6, 1945
  8. V.8 Bulletins on a wall of Fukuromachi on the whereabouts and conditions of various persons.
  9. V.9 Fukuromachi Aid Station. Families of patients assisting in the care of their sick relatives
  10. V.10 Patients, Communications Department (Post Office) Hospital
  11. V.11 Patients waiting for treatment
  12. V.12 Professor Tamagawa (Autopsy Room of Communications Department Hospital)
  13. V.13 Doctor treating burn patient
  14. V.14 Name card of Dr. Fumio Shigeto, Vice-director of Red Cross Hospital
  15. V.15 Red Cross Hospital. Doctor treating burn patient
  16. V.16a Red Cross Hospital. Damage to steel window fames
  17. V.16b Exterior, Red Cross Hospital
  18. V.16c Interior damage, Red Cross Hospital
  19. V.16d Transportation of injured
  20. V.17 Red Cross Hospital. Microscopic examination of blood

Case 6: "Joint Commission. Operations"

  1. VI.1 Permission for Col. Mason to enter Hirsohima for studies – no label
  2. VI.2 Aerial view Daiwa rayon mill (Ujina Hospital), which became headquarters for the Joint Commission
  3. VI.3 Entrance to Ujina Hospital
  4. VI.4 Workers dormitories, Daiwa Rayon Mill
  5. VI.5 Group in the Laboratory of the Joint Commission at Ujina Hospital
  6. VI.6 Team from the Joint Commission on visit to Iwakuni Naval Hospital
  7. VI.7 Notes made at Communications Department (Post Office) Hospital by Col. Mason interviewing the director, Dr. Hachiya.
  8. VI.8 Notes made by Col. Mason interviewing the assistant warden of Hiroshima Prison.
  9. VI.9 Hiroshima Prison plan
  10. VI.10 Lieut. J. Philip making a follow-up visit to a patient discharged from Ujina Hospital.
  11. VI.11 Follow up of patient Hirosi Okita.
  12. VI.12 Hirosi Okita showing almost complete healing of hemorrhagic and ulcerated lesions of the gums
  13. VI.13 Interview notes with Dr. Oguchi at Kaijin-Kai Hospital, Kure

Case 7: "Building, Shielding and Survival Surveys"

  1. VII.1 Hiroshima school children. Map showing position of groups of students.
  2. VII.01a Mortality and casualty rates of "shielded" school children
  3. VII.01b Mortality rate of "unshielded” school children
  4. VII.2 Chart showing position of students in Yasuda Girls School.
  5. VII.3 Sketch of Hiroshima near the Temma Bridge, 1000 meters from the hypocenter.
  6. VII.4 Reconstructed drawing of Temma Bridge
  7. VII.5 Map showing position of Otake workmen’s groups.
  8. VII.6 Map to indicate position of large buildings used in the shielding study.
  9. VII.7 Views of Nippon bank, 250 meters from hypocenter.
  10. VII.8 Position of certain persons in Central Telephone Office.
  11. VII.9 Medical notes on persons in VII.8
  12. VII.10 Drawing of relation of shielding to fate of patients in buildings.
  13. VII.11 Chart of mortality and casualty rates in relation to distance from the hypocenter.
  14. VII.12 Map of disposition of military units in region of Hiroshima Castle.
  15. VII.13a Hiroshima Castle before strike – postcard
  16. VII.13b Hiroshima Castle after strike
  17. VII.14 Headquarters of Chugoku Army before and after August 6, 1945
  18. VII.15 Exterior, communications bunker (800m)
  19. VII.15a Interior, communications bunker (800m) “VII.15” Copy of Clausewitz, On war, found in another bunker – see oversize
  20. VII.A Protection Studies and Population Surveys
  21. VII.B The Otake Women’s Groups
  22. VII.C Building Studies

Case 8: “Joint Commission Report, and Diary”

  1. VIII.1 Report of damage and casualties in Hiroshima Railroad Office
  2. VIII.2 Diary maintained in shorthand
  3. VIII.4 Preliminary draft in shorthand of portion of the report of the Joint Committee
  4. VIII.7 Draft of a letter recommending continued study of atomic bomb casualties
  5. [Other labels not in collection]

Case 9: "Hiroshima. Books and Reports.”

  1. IX.1 [no label or item – from the photograph of the panel, IX.1 is a photograph of the six published volumes of the Joint Commission Report]
  2. IX.2 [no label, no item]
  3. IX.3 [no label, no item.]
  4. IX.4 Eye-witness account of Father Siemes used in John Hersey’s “Hiroshima”
  5. IX.5 Jesuit Monastery at Nagatsuka from where Father Siemes wrote his account
  6. IX.6a City in the process of regrowth (1949)
  7. IX.7 Father Kleinsorge
  8. IX.7a Letterhead of Catholic Hospital in Tokyo where Father Siemes was a patient
  9. IX.8 Rebirth of a city (label only)
  10. IX.8a Chamber of Commerce Building from balcony of Businessmen’s Club.
  11. IX.8b Chamber of Commerce Building (post-attack)
  12. IX.8c Peace monument at the Chamber of Commerce Building (1949)
  13. IX.9 Name card of Doctor Hachiya

Case 10: “Joint Commission. Memorabilia”

  1. X.1 “A postwar indication of some Japanese attitudes towards a symbol of militarism”: Letter from Dr. Yasushi Mitani to Liebow, 1957
  2. X.2 Letter from Dr. Zeichiro Ishii to Liebow regarding his postwar situation
  3. X.3 Letter from Dr. Masashi Miyake to Liebow
  4. X.4 Letter from Luther L. Terry, USPHS, to Liebow
  5. X.5 Receipt for the first consignment of records and photographs of the Joint Commission

Processing Information

Folders and envelopes of photographs from a previous arrangement have been integrated into a single sequence of folders.

Guide to the Averill A. Liebow Collection
Finding aid by Todd A. Lane and Toby A. Appel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Medical Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Repository

Yale University
333 Cedar St.
New Haven CT 06520-8014 US
203-785-5636 (Fax)

Opening Hours