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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c154

Mary Ellen Wohl papers


The Mary Ellen Wohl papers, 1962-2005 (inclusive), are the product of Wohl’s research and professional activities during her career at Harvard Medical School as Professor of Pediatrics, and Boston Children’s Hospital as Chief of the Division of Respiratory Diseases and Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Program.


  • Creation: 1962-2005 (inclusive)

Language of Materials

Papers are in English

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice.

Access to personnel, patient, and student information (as found in Series I, II, and III) is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

Audio-visual recordings (as found in Series III) are restricted to access until such time as they 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.


7.26 cubic feet (5 records center cartons, 1 half letter size document box, 1 oversized box)
0.2 Gigabytes (2 digital folders on 1 compact disc)

The Mary Ellen Wohl papers, 1962-2005 (inclusive), are the product of Wohl’s research and professional activities during her career at Harvard Medical School as Professor of Pediatrics, and Boston Children’s Hospital as Chief of the Division of Respiratory Diseases and Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Program. The papers are arranged in three series: I. Correspondence, 1983-2004; II. Research records, 1962-2005; III. Professional records, 1967-2004.

Correspondence (Series I) consists of letters and related records generated by Wohl in her professional appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital, her professional service, and her writing and publishing activities.

Research records (Series II) consists of materials created or received by Mary Ellen Wohl in her research. Types of material include raw data, graphs, charts, pulmonary function tests, and notes. Prominent research topics include lung function and lung diseases of children and infants.

Professional records (Series III) consists primarily of administrative materials created by Wohl in her role as Chief of the Division of Respiratory Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital. This includes date books and patient, student, and personnel files. Additional administrative files include material documenting Boston Children’s Hospital’s heart and lung transplant program, awards received by Wohl, and committee and report files.

Papers are entirely in English.

Biographical Note

Mary Ellen Wohl (1932-2009), A.B. (magna cum laude), 1954, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts; M.D., 1958, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York; was Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts from 1992 to 2005 and Chief of the Division of Respiratory Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts, from 1980 to 2002.

Mary Ellen Beck Wohl was born on 12 June 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her mother, Ellen Manning Beck, was a surgical nurse. Her father, Claude S. Beck, was a surgeon and Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery at Western Reserve University (later Case Western Reserve University), Cleveland, Ohio, and performed the first defibrillation in 1947. She was listed as white in the 1940 census. Wohl completed residencies in pediatrics at Babies’ Hospital in New York, New York. Wohl joined Children’s Hospital (now Boston Children’s Hospital) in 1962 as a Fellow in Medicine. She also had a research fellowship in physiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (now Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), Boston, Massachusetts from 1962 to 1965. She joined Harvard Medical School in 1965 as an Instructor in Pediatrics, ultimately becoming Professor of Pediatrics in 1992. Wohl served at Children’s Hospital in various capacities, notably Associate in the Pulmonary Laboratory from 1965 to 1978, Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Program from 1985 to 2002, and Chief of Division of Respiratory Diseases from 1980 to 2002. She became Division Chief, Emerita in 2002. The same year, she became Associate Director of the General Clinical Research Center at Children’s Hospital.

Wohl was awarded the Chadwick Medal (1997), the American Thoracic Society Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), and the Edwin L. Kendig Award for Outstanding Achievements in Pediatric Pulmonology (2002). Wohl’s research interests included respiratory physiology, specifically the mechanics of respiration; lung growth and alterations produced by disease; and pediatric pulmonary disease. Wohl’s early research focused on the lungs of infants, specifically on diseases including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, bronchiolitis, and asthma. Her research and clinical care later focused on cystic fibrosis (CF). Wohl worked on standards of care in the field and researched the efficacy of recombinant DNase I treatment for CF lung disease.

Wohl married Martin J. Wohl, M.D. in 1961. They had two children: Alexander and Laura (Wohl) Hornbrook. Wohl died on 08 October 2009 in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Collection Arrangement

  1. I. Correspondence, 1983-2004
  2. II. Research records, 1962-2005
  3. III. Professional records, 1967-2004
  4. III.A. Patient files, 1982-1999
  5. III.B. Student files, 1983-1992
  6. III.C. Personnel files, 1986-2003
  7. III.D. Date books, 1993-2005
  8. III.E. Administrative files, 1967-2004

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was gifted to the Harvard Medical Library by Mary Ellen Wohl in 2005 and Martin Wohl in 2009.

  1. Accession number 2006-002. Mary Ellen Wohl. 2005 November 19.
  2. Accession number 2010-045. Martin Wohl. 2009 October 30.

Related Collections in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine

Processing Information

Processed by Rebecca Thayer, May 2023.

Staff refoldered and reboxed material and created a finding aid to increase researcher access. Items were removed from three ring binders. Folder titles were transcribed from original folders which were then discarded. Titles were supplied for unfoldered materials. Titles supplied by the processing staff appear in brackets only on the physical folders. Oversize materials were flattened and removed to an oversize box. Processing staff discarded records (one unopened software disk) that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine. Boston Children's Hospital Annual Reports were deaccessioned and given back to Boston Children's Hospital.

Wohl, Mary Ellen. Papers, 1962-2005: Finding Aid.
Rebecca Thayer
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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