The Joslin Diabetes Center (JDC) Archival Collections contains a wide range of materials related to the life and times of Dr. Elliott P. Joslin (EPJ), 1869-1962, America’s first diabetologist. The Joslin Archives also contains valuable material and resources that document the history of the Joslin Diabetes Center and foundational materials related to the present day clinical research institute he began circa 1930. The archival collections, along with the rare books collection held in the Alexander Marble Special Collection Library are important complements to the Joslin Diabetes Center.
The collection harbors rare papers, books and other one of a kind references dating from the 19th century to the present day regarding the rise of diabetes as a medical concern. Dr. Joslin lived from 1869-1962 and his interest in the ‘care’ of persons with diabetes and the ‘study’ of the disease began at the turn of the 20th century, which placed him at the center of interest in diabetes and metabolism in modern medicine as it is presently appreciated.
Central to Joslin’s own mission was his pioneering efforts to promote the education of the diabetic as the key to the primary treatment of the disease. In the process, he produced the first textbook (in English) and manual related to diabetes well before the arrival of insulin in the early 1920s. Following the arrival of insulin, he and his cohorts were the first to administer the standardized insulin in America and lead the effort to better monitor diabetes to prevent complications. Dr. Joslin felt that patients, physicians, and scientists were all investigators helping to achieve better ‘outcomes.’
The mission of the JDC Historical Commission, which oversees the Archives, is to direct the curator department to promote the interests of patients, scholars, and the public in the cause of diabetes. An ongoing effort is maintained to document, acquire, preserve, appraise, collect, and exhibit historical materials related to diabetes in the best manner.
A rare books library (The Alexander Marble Special Collections Library) is central to the Joslin collections. This repository is dedicated, as Dr. Joslin once stated, to “the history of medicine especially as related to diabetes.”
Scope and Content of the Joslin Archives
The Joslin Diabetes Center’s archival collection consists of over 100 boxes with material dating back to the mid-19th century. All files found in this collection are directly or indirectly related to Elliott P. Joslin or the Joslin Diabetes Center. The collection contains Joslin family records, Dr. Joslin's correspondence between family, professional, and personal relationships, memorabilia/artifacts, photographs, as well as documents pertaining to staff members of the Joslin Clinic, along with records/rare documents on historical figures in the world of science and medicine. Letters between Dr. Joslin and Drs. Banting and Best (the discoverers of insulin) can also be found in the archive.
(click on the image above to get your free PDF copy of Dr. Barnett's 'Elliott P. Joslin, MD: A Centennial Portrait')
Page last updated: April 21, 2019