Skip to main content

John Franklin Enders papers

Call Number: MS 1478
Scope and Contents
The John Franklin Enders Papers consist of correspondence and topical files, writings, photographs, and laboratory notebooks which document Enders's research and teaching in the field of bacteriology and virology. The papers were donated by Mrs. Enders in 1988 and 1990. The 56 linear feet of material are arranged in three series: I. Correspondence and Topical Files, II. Writings, III. Laboratory Notebooks.
Series I, Correspondence and Topical Files, consists of materials relating to Enders's professional and personal activities. During his career Enders corresponded with former students and work associates; members of the academic community, both at Harvard and at universities throughout the United States and abroad; members of the international health and scientific community; and individuals who sought professional advice and information. Individual correspondents include Sumner Berkovich, Thomas E. Frothingham, D. Carleton Gajdusek, Ion Gresser, Maurice R. Hilleman, Monto Ho, Samuel L. Katz, Donald N. Medearis, George Miller, Kiarash Naficy, Michael Oxman, Frederick C. Robbins, Albert Sabin and Harvey M. Shein.

Corporate correspondents include research institutions and government and health agencies for and with whom Enders and his staff gathered and compared data, tested blood and tissue specimens, and conducted research projects. Prominent among these files are those of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the National Institutes of Health, the National Research Council, the Plasma Fractionation Commission, the American Type Culture Collection, and the World Health Organization.

The Harvard University files contain routine administrative correspondence; correspondence and reports relating to Enders's activities as a member of university and Medical School committees; lecture schedules for the department of bacteriology and immunology; and correspondence, reports, and printed material relating to the New England Regional Primate Research Center on whose scientific Advisory Committee Enders served from the Center's establishment in 1963. Files relating to the Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Research Division of Infectious Diseases contain administrative correspondence, annual reports, and correspondence and reports which document grant projects funded by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and the U. S. Public Health Service.

Enders's activities as a member of professional organizations and national committees, as a participant in conferences and symposia, and as editorial board member and contributor to professional journals are documented in this series by files containing correspondence, reports, and printed material. Files of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Philosophical Society, the Infectious Diseases Society, the International Poliomyelitis Congress, the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, the Journal of Immunology, the Journal of Infectious Diseases, and the New England Journal of Medicine are included in this series. However, some correspondence relating to specific articles written by Enders is included in the files within Series II, Writings.

The topical files document Enders's professional interests and research. Files on specific viruses including measles, mumps, and poliomyelitis contain correspondence, data, printed material, and photographs relating to the experiments, testing, vaccine studies and trials, and to information sharing activities associated with the investigation of these viruses. The chronologically arranged files of "Materials received for testing" and "Materials sent out" consist of correspondence and data relating to sera, specimens of virus strains, etc., exchanged between Enders's laboratory and the laboratories of hospitals, departments of health, and universities involved in virological research.

Correspondence and printed material relating to the honors and awards Enders received are filed under the name of the award. Materials relating to his receipt of honorary degrees are filed under the names of the conferring universities.

Throughout his career, Enders received invitations to speak at meetings of social organizations, to attend and present papers at professional conferences, to give newspaper, radio, and television interviews, and to write articles for a variety of publications. Correspondence and other materials relating to accepted requests are filed under the name of the individual, organization, or institution. The requests which Enders declined are filed chronologically under "Invitations."

Correspondence listed under "Personal files" is arranged chronologically and includes a small amount of correspondence with family members and friends; letters relating to personal financial and legal affairs; letters from elementary, high school, and college students requesting information on his life and research; queries from individuals regarding health problems; and letters of congratulations for his numerous awards and achievements. Enders classified letters from individuals with unusual questions about or suggestions for the cure of various diseases as "Nuts letters," and these are filed under that heading. With few exceptions Enders responded personally to all of his correspondents.

Acknowledgments of donations to Harvard University and many other institutions and charitable organizations, and notes relating to Enders's club membership activities are also filed chronologically within the personal correspondence files. Additional personal materials include biographical sketches and curriculum vitae, bibliographies, and Enders's student notebook from a biology course at Yale College. Six folders of requests for autographs and photographs are arranged chronologically.

The majority of photographs within this series illustrate accompanying reports and letters relating to virological research. Individual and group photographs of Enders, as well as miscellaneous scientific photographs which were not accompanied by textual material, are filed under "Photographs."

Series II, Writings, consists of two subseries, Articles and Papers, and Lecture and Presentation Notes. The files within the Articles and Papers subseries may contain correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts, illustrative photographs, galleys, and reprints of Enders's articles, chapters, papers, and lectures. Of particular interest is his Nobel lecture in box 93, folder 85, and a 1967 paper describing his career at the Children's Hospital Medical Center in box 99, folder 218.

Lecture and Presentation Notes files contain Enders's Harvard Medical School lecture notes, and notes relating to miscellaneous club and medical personnel presentations.

Series III, Laboratory Notebooks, consists of notebooks containing data on experiments conducted by Enders and his laboratory colleagues. The notebooks are titled by topic and by individual name. Volume numbers listed were transcribed from the notebooks; in some cases volume series are incomplete. Dates listed are approximate, based on information contained in each volume. An index of experiments (box 102, folder 1), dated ca. 1949-1950, contains listings of experiments categorized by type and followed by a code for the specific laboratory notebook and page number. For example, EII, page 40 denotes Enders's notebook volume II, page 40. Not all volumes referred to in the index are included in the Enders papers.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Carolyn Enders (Mrs. John F.), 1988 and 1990.
Arranged in three series: I. Correspondence and Topical Files, 1916-1988. II. Writings, 1930-1972. III. Laboratory Notebooks, 1947-1976.
56 Linear Feet (135 boxes)
Related Names
Enders, John Franklin, 1897-1985
Language of Materials