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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c211

Mary Lee Ingbar papers


The Mary Lee Ingbar papers, 1946-2008, document Ingbar's career as a health economist and professor at Harvard Medical School, University of California San Francisco, Dartmouth College, and University of Massachusetts Medical Center.


  • Creation: 1946-2008.


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. There are restrictions on access to portions of this collection. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series III, V, and VI. Restricted materials are listed where they were found in the collection, but are physically separated and housed in Box 13. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

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.


21.7 cubic feet ((21 record cartons and 2 document boxes) )

The Mary Lee Ingbar Papers, 1946-2008, document the professional and personal life of a health economist and educator. The bulk of the collection falls between 1969-1982, and documents both MLI’s varied research projects concerning health economics, and specific course and lab work she designed to train medical students in the field of economics. The collection describes MLI’s professional training and interests, and provides insight into the field of public health economics over fifty years. Case studies, correspondence, grant applications and proposals, lecture and speech notes, reports, syllabi, writings, and photographs record Ingbar's research in health economics topics such as efficient record-keeping, cost of nursing services, and cost containment in medical schools.


Mary Lee Ingbar (MLI), PhD, MPH, was a health economist who developed theories concerning interaction between managerial structures of health care programs, and their effectiveness in meeting constituency needs. She received an SB cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1946, an AM from Radcliffe Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1948, and an PhD from Radcliffe Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1953. She then received an MPH, cum laude, from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) as a member of the class of 1956. She was the first social scientist to be allowed to matriculate for the MPH degree.

MLI remained professionally associated with Harvard during most of her career. She was Lecturer on Medical Economics at the HSPH’s Department of Public Health Practice from 1957 to 1961, and Research Associate at the Graduate School of Public Administration from 1961 to 1966, where with Lester Taylor, she undertook the first econometric study of hospital costs using United States data. Subsequently, she worked for several years on many national and regional committees, addressing such issues as medical costs, hospital planning, day care organization, and alcoholism.

In 1972, MLI relocated to San Francisco. There she served as Associate Professor of Health in the Division of Ambulatory and Community Medicine at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine from 1972 to 1975. From 1974 to 1975, she was also Associate Program Director of The Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar Program at UCSF.

In 1976 MLI returned east, joining HMS as a Principle Research Associate in Preventive and Social Medicine. Simultaneously, she took a one year post as Visiting Professor of Health Economics at the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College and the Department of Community Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. In 1977, MLI became Professor of Family and Community Medicine in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, remaining until 1982. She became Principle Research Associate in Social Medicine and Health Policy at HMS in 1980, and Principal Associate in Medicine and Health Policy in 1985, a post she held until 2003.

Throughout her career, MLI consulted on government projects concerning economic aspects of health care policy. She held many city, state, and federal directorships and consultancies, including: Director of Program Development for the Department of Health, Hospital and Welfare of the City of Cambridge, MA, 1968-1972; Director of Research for the Office of Comprehensive Planning of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1970-1971; Regional Consultant for Health Economics and Public Health Advisor, US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Region I, Division of Finance and Health Economics, 1975-1976; and Consultant at the West Roxbury Veterans Administration Hospital in 1986.

MLI directed or consulted on several specifically contracted, grant-funded projects, which were the basis of much of her research and publications. These contracts include such research topics as: Economics and the Administration of Medical Care Programs, 1961-1966; Identification of the Data and Development if the Record-Keeping System Necessary to Evaluate the Cost-Benefit and/or Cost Effectiveness of Ambulatory Health Services Provided to Residents of Low Income Areas in Cambridge, MA, 1970-1972; Innovative Methods of Pricing Ambulatory Care Treatment (IMPACT) for Patients with Hypertension: A Means of Enhancing Positive Health Outcomes for Long-Term Care, 1980-1982; and Health Services Utilization and Cost Pre and Post Mental Health Treatment in Organized Fee for Service Health Care Settings: The Bunker Hill Health Center of the Massachusetts General Hospital, 1980-1982.

MLI authored, co-authored, and edited dozens of articles, original reports, and monographs for professional publication, primarily hospital costs. Topics include a range of interests pertinent to a health economist, including efficient record-keeping, cost of nursing services, and teaching cost containment in medical schools. In 1990, MLI contributed to the inaugural issue of Thyroid, a tribute to her late husband, Sidney H. Ingbar, MD.

MLI had memberships in many professional societies, including the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, the Massachusetts Public Health Association, Academy Health, the International Health Economies Association, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), and the American Public Health Association, in which she held many chairships and served on the Governing Council. Ingbar died on 18 September 2009 in Cambridge, Mass.

Series and Subseries Arrangement

  1. Series I. Personal and Family Papers, 1947-1996
  2. Series II. Harvard University, 1946-1996
  3. Series III. University of California at San Francisco, 1969-1976
  4. Series IV. Dartmouth College and Medical School, 1975-1977
  5. Series V. University of Massachusetts Medical Center, 1975-1982
  6. Series VI. Research and Projects, 1958-1995
  7. Series VII. Publications, 1953-1982

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Mary Lee Ingbar papers were donated to the Harvard Medical School Library by the Ingbar family in three accessions in 1999, 2000, and 2009.

Related Materials

Related collections in the Center for the History of Medicine include the Sidney H. Ingbar Papers (H MS c212). For more information on related materials, consult Public Services.

General note

  2. Innovative Methods of Pricing Ambulatory Care Treatment
  4. Medical Economics Regression Option Programming System

Processing Information

Processed by: Alyson Reichgott, September 2003.

Processing Note: Approximately 30 cubic feet of duplicate unmarked photocopies, reprints, and newsletters were removed and discarded. Unmarked clippings, grant duplicates, and copies of correspondence were similarly discarded. Patient names have been eliminated from correspondence, reports, and notes accompanying unrestricted material. Restricted materials are listed where they were found in the collection, but are physically separated and housed in Box 13. Audio-visual materials are listed where they were found in the collection, but are physically separated and housed in Box 14.

Accession 2010-006, comprising nine cubic feet of records (Boxes 15-23), is unprocessed. A folder list is available upon request; consult the Public Services Librarian for further information.

Ingbar, Mary Lee. Papers, 1946-2008: A Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Language of description
The Mary Lee Ingbar Papers have been processed and made available with generous support from the Nara Fund, Incorporated, to the Archives for Women in Medicine project..

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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