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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c200

Jacob Fine papers


The Jacob Fine papers, 1939-1976, document the research, teaching, and professional activities of Jacob Fine, Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Surgeon-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital, and his research in traumatic and septic shock.


  • Creation: 1939-1976.


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to 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 V. 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.


4.3 cubic feet (4 record cartons, and 1 document box)

The Jacob Fine Papers, 1939-1976, are the result of JF's teaching, research, and professional activities as a physician and clinician at HMS and BIH. The records range throughout JF's career, from his early years as a researcher of hemorrhagic shock, through his research of the bacterial effect on shock, to his appointments as Professor of Surgery at HMS, and Surgeon-in-Chief at BIH 1948. The bulk of the collection spans the late 1940s through the late 1960s. A significant volume of the records lie in three areas: research on traumatic and septic shock, publications on shock and blood volume, and professional correspondence in the area of shock research. The collection also contains research notes, grant proposals, and preliminary research findings relating to the study of shock; as well as copies of published papers, professional talks, and samples of revised papers. Many of these records are the result of JF's research activity in the 1950s and 1960s. Finally, the collection contains a substantial amount of professional and personal correspondence, from JF's activities as a scholar, mentor, doctor, and citizen. Only a small amount of JF's records from his teaching activities at HMS and administrative work at Beth Israel Hospital are contained in the collection.


Jacob Fine (JF), appointed Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and Surgeon-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital (BIH) in 1948, specialized in the study and treatment of shock. He was born in Massachusetts in 1900, and received the BA in 1920 from Harvard College and the MD in 1924 from HMS. JF completed his training at Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio and at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was appointed Assistant in Surgery at HMS in 1928 and Outpatient Surgeon at the newly founded BIH where he remained for 45 years. After becoming emeritus in 1967, JF continued his research at the Sears Laboratory of the Harvard Surgical Service.

In 1943, JF began to study role of blood and plasma volume in traumatic and septic shock. His research greatly benefitted from government funding during and after World War II. In seeking to understand the causes of shock, JF sought collaborators in the areas of microbiology, cell biology, and biochemistry. JF discovered that endotoxins from intestinal bacteria might be responsible for death when shock fails to respond to treatment. Further, he discovered that death from shock was linked to injury to the reticuloendothelial system (RES) which has many functions including the destruction of bacteria and bacterial endotoxins. In addition to two books, The Care of the Surgical Patient and Bacterial Factor in Traumatic Shock, JF published over 200 scientific papers.

In the 1950s, JF was awarded memberships to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He was a long-standing officer in the Boston Surgical Society. JF was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Australia in 1966.

In addition to his professional honors, JF was an active member of the Boston Jewish community. Responding to the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany, he advocated to grant entry visas for political refugees. During World War II, he worked to place foreign doctors in American institutions. In the immediate postwar period, he committed himself to the new state of Israel and the establishment of medical training in Israel. During the 1950s, he supported social justice issues, aided visiting Israeli doctors, and sponsored European political refugees. In the 1960s, through the Middle East Institute, JF sought to promote inter-regional development and cooperation in the Middle East. In 1980, he died at the age of 80.

Series and Subseries Arrangement

  1. Series I. Personal Papers, 1951-1967
  2. ___ Subseries A. Autobiographical and Family Correspondence, 1953
  3. ___ Subseries B. Travel Accounts, 1951-1967
  4. Series II. Research Records, 1943-1976
  5. ___ Subseries A. Subject Files, 1943-1971
  6. ___ Subseries B. Grant Applications, 1946-1976
  7. Series III. Professional and Personal Correspondence, 1938-1976
  8. ___ Subseries A. Personal Correspondence, 1949-1960
  9. ___ Subseries B. Professional and Research Correspondence, 1938-1976
  10. Series IV. Publications and Speeches, 1946-1973
  11. Series V. Patient Records and Student Recommendations, 1954-1972

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Jacob Fine papers were acquired by the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Processing Information

Processed by: Keith Gorman, May 2004

Processing Note: The collection was organized into five series. Duplicates and items not created by JF were discarded. Items within folders were not reorganized. There is personal and patient information interfiled in Series V. These records are restricted for 80 years.



Fine, Jacob, 1900- , Papers, 1939-1976: A Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
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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