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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c448

Samuel A. Levine papers


The Samuel A. Levine papers, 1908-1994 and 2016-2017 (inclusive) consist primarily of papers, photographs, and film created during and after the life of cardiologist Samuel A. Levine and collected by Levine and family members, including his wife Rosalind W. Levine, son Herbert J. Levine, daughter-in-law Sandra Levine, and grandson Jonathan H. Scheff.


  • Creation: 1908-1994, 2016-2017 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Papers are in English. There are several items in Hebrew, Spanish, and Swedish, as noted in Series I.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice.

Access to patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series I and Series V. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

Motion picture film is restricted to access until such time as it can be converted to digital media. Recordings are also subject to the above restrictions; once converted, recordings may be restricted based on the recording's content, title, or as per the restrictions for the folder from which the recording was removed.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all materials in the collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting any third-party copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish. For more information on the Center's use, publication, and reproduction policies, view our Reproductions and Use Policy.


4.25 cubic feet (3 records center cartons, 1 tall legal size document boxes, 1 oversized box, and 3 small boxes)

The Samuel A. Levine papers, 1908-1994 and 2016-2017 (inclusive) consist primarily of papers, photographs, and film created during and after the life of cardiologist Samuel A. Levine and collected by Levine and family members, including his wife Rosalind W. Levine, son Herbert J. Levine, daughter-in-law Sandra Levine, and grandson Jonathan H. Scheff.

The collection includes clippings, letters (received), scrapbooks, and articles about Levine, including letters and tributes written after Levine’s death. Papers written by Levine include his Harvard Medical School class notes, his World War I diaries, and his medical writings. There are also family and medical photographs by or of Levine; patient records and electrocardiograms; plaques and certificates awarded to Levine; and four reels of film, likely relating to cardiology. Typed transcriptions of Levine’s diaries and writings are part of the collection, courtesy of Scheff.

Materials are primarily in English. There are several items in Hebrew, Spanish, and Swedish, as noted in Series I.

Biographical Note

Samuel A. Levine (1891-1966), A.B., 1911, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, M.D., 1914, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts was Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a staff physician at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital), Boston, Massachusetts from 1919 to 1957. Levine was recognized during and after his life for his work as a cardiologist, which included influencing a change in the medical standard for treating patients recovering from heart attacks. He was also known for being the first person to diagnose pernicious anemia and the second person to diagnoses coronary thrombosis, and for his role in diagnosing Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) with poliomyelitis.

Samuel Albert Levine was born on 01 January 1891 in Lomza, Poland to Abram Levine and Anna Sheinkopf. The family immigrated to the United States in 1894, where they lived in Boston’s North End and West End neighborhoods. The 1940 U.S. Census identified Levine’s race as white. Levine began working at age nine, first as a newsboy. After attending Boston English High School, he got a Newsboys’ Union Scholarship to attend Harvard College. He graduated with an A.B. in 1911, and went on to earn an M.D. in 1914 at Harvard Medical School, where Henry Christian (1876-1951) was his mentor. He spent two years at the newly-opened Peter Bent Brigham Hospital learning electrocardiography and then serving as an intern. In 1916, he worked at the Rockefeller Institute with Alfred Einstein Cohn (1879-1957), focusing on electrocardiography and techniques for animal experimentation. At the onset of World War I, Levine joined the war effort in Europe. He was among a group of US Army Medical Corps officers sent to England to support the British Royal Army Medical Corps. He served at the British Military Heart Hospital in Colchester, England, where he met physicians William Osler (1849-1919), Sir James Mackenzie (1853-1925), Clifford Allbutt (1836-1925), and Sir Thomas Lewis (1881-1945). During his service (1917-1919), he was also stationed in London, England and in France. After the war, Levine returned to Harvard Medical School as Clinical Professor of Medicine, a position he held from 1919 until 1957 when he became Professor, Emeritus. For thirty-six years (1921-1956), he taught a summer postgraduate course in cardiology. During the years 1919 to 1957, Levine was a staff physician (and later a consultant) at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. He also consulted for other hospitals around the country and the world. When treating cardiac patients, Levine championed chair recovery rather than the strict bedrest recovery period that was typical at the time but could lead to pulmonary congestion. He was the first to diagnose pernicious anemia (a condition in which low red blood cells are caused by the intestines’ inability to absorb Vitamin B12); he did so at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in 1915. His clinical observation and study led to the discovery that pernicious anemia is connected to gastric anacidity. He made the second diagnosis of coronary thrombosis, which he wrote about in a 1916 publication. He also described the condition in a 1936 monograph: Clinical Heart Disease. As an appointee to the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission in 1916, supporting the Boston Department of Public Health during an epidemic, Levine gained experience that taught him to make early diagnoses of poliomyelitis, before paralysis had set in; in 1921, he was consulted in the case of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and made the diagnosis of polio.

Levine engaged in many professional activities, by serving on boards of directors, editing cardiology journals, and participating as a member in medical societies. He wrote more than 180 articles for medical journals, in addition to four books: Coronary Thrombosis: Its Various Clinical Features (1929), Clinical Heart Disease (1936), Clinical Auscultation of the Heart (1949, with W. Proctor Harvey), and Current Concepts in Digitalis Therapy (1954, with Bernard Lown (1921-2021)). He served as President of the New England Heart Association (1935-1937). He sat on the board of directors at several medical institutions, as well as at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, and the Hillel Foundation. In 1942, he was honored with fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Levine was honored in 1954 when Charles Merrill (1885-1956), his patient, endowed the Samuel A. Levine Professorship at Harvard Medical School. In 1965, the Samuel A. Levine Coronary Monitoring Center (now the Levine Cardiac Intensive Care Unit) was established at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

Levine married Rosalind Weinberg on 20 June 1926. They had three children: Carol (circa 1928-2015), Herbert (circa 1929-2014, also a cardiologist), and Joan (born circa 1931). Levine died in 1966 at his home in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, following gastrectomy (surgical removal of part or all of the stomach) due to gastric carcinoma (stomach cancer).

Collection Arrangement

  1. I. Life and legacy records, 1908-1994
  2. I.A. Clippings and publications, 1910-1981
  3. I.B. Photographs, 1914-1967
  4. I.C. Bibliographies and curriculum vitae, 1914-1994
  5. I.D. Awards, 1956-1966
  6. I.E. Letters and correspondence, 1951-1982
  7. I.F. Scrapbooks, 1908-1982
  8. II. Samuel A. Levine Harvard Medical School student papers, 1912-1918
  9. III. World War I records, 1917-1918, 2017
  10. IV. Writings, 1921-2016
  11. V. Cardiology records, 1916-1963

Custodial History

Most of the collection belonged to Samuel A. Levine and/or Rosalind Levine prior to being donated by the Levines's daughter-in-law, Sandra Levine.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was gifted to the Harvard Medical Library by Sandra Levine, in memory of Herbert J. Levine, M.D., and his parents, Samuel A. Levine and Rosalind W. Levine, and by Jonathan H. Scheff, between 2015 and 2019. The collection was transferred in the following accessions:

  1. Accession number 2015-051. Sandra Levine. 2015 March 05.
  2. Accession number 2016-005. Sandra Levine. 2016 April 21.
  3. Accession number 2016-015 . Sandra Levine 2016 April 21.
  4. Accession number 2016-129. Unknown. 2016 April 08.
  5. Accession number 2018-015. Jonathan H. Scheff. 2017 July 18.
  6. Accession number 2018-123. Sandra Levine. 2018 January 10.
  7. Accession number 2019-125. Sandra Levine. 2019 February 19.

Related Collections at Other Institutions

  1. For records of the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission at the Harvard University Archives:Records of the President of Harvard University, Abbott Lawrence Lowell.
  2. For digital access to The Oculocardiac Reflex, a 1915 pamphlet by Samuel A. Levine, courtesy of the Medical Heritage Library and the Wellcome Library: Levine, Samuel A. The Oculocardiac Reflex : An Electrocardiographic Study with Special Reference to the Difference Between Right and Left Vagal and Ocular Pressures in Tabetics and Non-Tabetics, Chicago: American Medical Association, 1915.


The object collection (1) that was part of Accession #2016-005 was transferred to the Warren Anatomical Museum to form WAM001, c21588. The electrocardiographic bench and associated items (2), Accession #2018-200, were transferred to the Warren Anatomical Museum from the Center for Historical Scientific Instruments, Harvard University.

  1. 1. Levine, Samuel A. (Samuel Albert), Collection of medical instrumentation used and collected by Samuel A. Levine, 1800-1966. Warren Anatomical Museum artifact collection, WAM001, c21588. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine.
  2. 2. Levine electrocardiographic bench with galvanometer, photographic recorder, and associated parts. Accession #2018-200. Warren Anatomical Museum. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine. For more information, contact the Curator at

Processing Information

Processed by Charlotte Lellman, 2021 September.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine surveyed, rearranged, rehoused, and described the collection, and created this finding aid to improve access. File titles were transcribed from original folders. Where original folder titles were not present, titles devised by archives staff are shown in brackets on the physical folders. In some cases, title addenda are included in brackets.

Newspaper clippings were photocopied and originals were discarded. Photographs that were filed among acidic papers were interleaved with acid-free paper.

Scrapbooks were digitized in 2015. During processing, the archivist removed scrapbook pages and letters from acidic plastic and paper enclosures and discarded the scrapbook. Pages were removed to acid-free folders, and photographs and clippings were interleaved with buffered paper.

Nitrate film negatives were digitized and the film was discarded.

Levine, Samuel A. (Samuel Albert), 1891-1966. Papers, 1908-1994, 2016-2017 (inclusive): Finding Aid.
Charlotte Lellman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository

The Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is one of the world's leading resources for the study of the history of health and medicine. Our mission is to enable the history of medicine and public health to inform healthcare, the health sciences, and the societies in which they are embedded.

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