The Albert B. Sabin Digitization Project: A Celebration of the Achievements of Dr. Sabin

By Richard Jason Sookoor, Sabin Student Assistant

Brigadier General J. Johnson is seen here presenting the Legion of Merit to Dr. Sabin.

The month of August is notable here at the Winkler Center, particularly for the Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives. August 26th happens to be Dr. Sabin’s birthday, which gives us good reason to celebrate. To commemorate his birthday, we’d like to present the awards and honors he’s received in a small blog series throughout the month of August. Dr. Sabin has accumulated well over one hundred different awards and while we’d like to acknowledge all of them, we will focus on his most outstanding achievements.

Perhaps the best starting point would be to begin with Dr. Sabin’s first documented award, the Theobold Smith Award. This was given to medical scientists under 35 years of age who made substantial contributions to Medical Science. The award was highly regarded within the scientific community and carried a prize of $1000 (a little over $15,000 today).[1] Dr. Sabin received the Award in 1939 for his work and paper, “Constitutional Barriers to Involvement of the Nervous System by Certain Viruses.”[2]

In 1945, Dr. Sabin was recommended for the Legion of Merit for his service in the US Army in connection with the investigation and control of Sandfly Fever, Dengue, and Japanese B Encephalitis.[3] This award was presented to Dr. Sabin by the Surgeon General, pictured above.[4]

Warm Springs Polio Hall of Fame. Dr. Sabin’s bust is the eighth figure from the left.

Over the next few years, received recognition seemed relatively quiet. Dr. Sabin carried on his work in viruses and expanded to cancer research. His next major honor would be an award presented by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis for his work on the polio vaccine. This award had an unusual prize, a bust of Dr. Sabin made of bronze was unveiled (along with sixteen other notable figures) at the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.[5] This collection was dubbed the Polio Hall of Fame and is still on display at the now renamed “Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.”

A noteworthy honor came the following year from Dr. Sabin’s alma mater. In 1959, Dr. Sabin was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from New York University.[6] To his amusement, Dr. Sabin realized that although he received both a Bachelor of Science and Medical Degree from New York University, this would be the first commencement exercise he actually attended.[7] While this may have been the first honorary degree Dr. Sabin received, it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Over the next three decades, he was awarded honorary degrees in various fields from many local and international Universities. Although many of these degrees tended to be Doctors of Science or pertained to Medicine in some form, some colleges honored him a bit more liberally. For example, Hebrew Union College awarded him a Degree in Doctor of Humane Letters (1960).[8] University of Cincinnati’s very own College of Conservatory Medicine honored Dr. Sabin with a degree in Doctor of Humanities (1960).[9] A short list of various honorary degrees is provided at the end of post.

Dr. Sabin ties with his heritage also led to much praise and accolades from the Jewish community. In the span of three years, 1960-1963, Dr. Sabin was honored and awarded at various events and by various Jewish institutions and organizations. Of particular note, he was given the Medallion of Valor three times from the State of Israel, once in 1960 [10], again in 1961[11], and finally in 1963.[12] In 1962 [13] and 1963 [14], Dr. Sabin received awards from the Hadassah, a Jewish-American women’s organization dedicated to the medicine, welfare, and peace.

This first installment is a small fraction of the awards and honors Dr. Sabin had received. Next week, we’ll continue the blog series with a look at some of the recognition Dr. Sabin received later on in life.

List of Honorary Degrees [15]
Doctor of Science, New York University, 1959
Doctor of Humane Letters, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, OH, 1960
Doctor of Humanities, College Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, OH, 1960
Honorary Degree, Bowling Green State University, OH, 1961
Doctor of Science, Ohio State University, 1961
Doctor of Science, Temple University, 1961
Doctor of Science, Miami University, OH, 1963
Doctorate, Medical Academy, Bialystok, Poland, 1967
Matricola d’Onore, University of Pavia, Italy, 1967
Honorary Degree, Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, 1969
Honorary Degree, George Washington University, 1974
Doctor Honoris Causa, Federal University of Creara, Brazil, 1977
Honoris Causa, Sao Paulo University, Brazil, 1979
Carioca Honorario, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1980
Doutor Honoris Causa, University of Londrina, Brazil, 1982
Honorary Degree, Winthrop College, 1986
Honorary Degree, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 1988

References
[1] Letter from Sam Woodley to Dr. Sabin, dated September 19, 1939. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 0.5 — Theobald Smith Award, 1939-1940.
[2] American Association for the Advancement of Science. Accessed 14 August 2012. http://archives.aaas.org/people.php?p_id=640.
[3] Letter from S. Bayne-Jones to Dr. Sabin, dated October 2, 1945. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 2 — Legion of Merit, U.S. Army, 1941.
[4] Award of Legion of Merit – 1945. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 2 — Legion of Merit, U.S. Army, 1941.
[5] Letter from Basil O’Connor to Dr. Sabin, dated November 27, 1957. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 4 — Polio Hall of Fame, Georgia Warm Springs Foundation [NFIP], 1957-1958.
[6] Letter from Mr. Carroll V. Newsom to Dr. Sabin, dated March 24, 1959. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 5 — Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science, New York University, 1959.
[7] Letter from Dr. Sabin to Mr. Carroll V. Newsom, dated March 27, 1959. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 5 — Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science, New York University, 1959.
[8] Letter from Nelson Gluck to Dr. Sabin, dated January 14, 1960. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 10 — Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, OH, 1960.
[9] Letter from Thomas Hogan, Jr. to Dr. Sabin, dated April 26, 1960. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 11 — Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humanities, College Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, OH, 1960.
[10] Letter from Israel Stiefel to Dr. Sabin, dated October 15, 1959. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 12 — Medallion of Valor of the State of Israel, Philadelphia, 1960.
[11] Letter from Edmund G. Brown to Dr. Sabin, dated October 9, 1961. Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 25 — Medallion of Valor of the State of Israel, Beverly Hills, 1961.
[12] Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 2, Folder 1 — American Friends of Hebrew University, Dinner and Medallion of Valor of the State of Israel, Los Angeles, 1963.
[13] Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 1, Folder 29 — Hadassah Award, Response, 1962.
[14] Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Box 2, Folder 7 — Henrietta Szold Award, Hadassah, 1963.
[15] Found in Series 11 — Professional and Personal Engagements, Sub-series — Awards and Honors, Boxes 1, 2 and 3.

In 2010, the University of Cincinnati Libraries received a $314,258 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to digitize the correspondence and photographs of Dr. Albert B. Sabin. This digitization project has been designated a NEH “We the People” project, an initiative to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture through the support of projects that explore significant events and themes in our nation’s history and culture and that advance knowledge of the principles that define America. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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