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COLLECTION Identifier: B MS c98

Max Rinkel papers


The Max Rinkel papers, 1925-1966, are product of Rinkel's activities as a psychiatrist and as a consultant at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Boston State Hospital. The collection contains professional and personal correspondence, lectures, research notebooks, audio tapes, motion picture film, photographs and lantern slides chronicling his research on insulin therapy and chemical disorders, including lysergic acid diethylamide commonly known as LSD.


  • Creation: 1925-1966


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Access to personal and patient information is restricted to 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in Series I. The end of the restriction period is noted with each restricted folder. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

The Max Rinkel Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to contact reference staff for more information concerning retrieval of material.

Conditions Governing Use

The Boston 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.


6 cubic feet (6 record cartons)

The collection spans 1925 to 1966 with the bulk of the material dating from the 1950s and 1960s. MR's papers are arranged into two series: 1) Subject Files and 2) Audio Visual Materials.

The Subject Files are organized alphabetically and consist mainly of correspondence (boxes 1-2, folders 36-58), lectures (box 2, folders 89-107), notebooks (box 3, folders 142-156), and reprints (boxes 3-4, folders 168-223). The correspondence is organized chronologically, although some correspondence is also found under subject headings, and includes incoming and outgoing, personal and professional letters. Some of the earlier correspondence is written in German, and occasionally includes medical information about a specific patient. This material is noted in the folder List with an asterisk.

MR's notebooks consist for the most part of notes he made after reading books and articles. The reprint sequence spans 1925-1966 with the bulk dating from 1950-1966 and includes articles written by MR or MR and colleagues (box 4, folders 194-218), and reprints written by others. The reprints are arranged alphabetically by author, topic, or grouped under a letter of the alphabet.

Of special interest is the material related to the experiment giving LSD to artist Hyman Bloom (box 1, folder 20; box 6b, slides 121-152).

The Audio-Visual Materials series (boxes 5-6) consists of audio tapes, film, photographs, and lantern and stereoscopic slides. The tapes and film are unidentified. The photographs and slides are, for the most part, illustrations from MR's writings and teaching slides. Several images are depicted in both the photographs and slides. Some photographs were also filed in the subject series.

Biographical Note

Max Rinkel, M.D. (MR) was born in Neisse, Germany on August 18, 1894. His father was Karl Rinkel, a businessman, and his mother was Frieda Eisenberg, a concert singer. He graduated from the Royal Gymnasium in Neisse in 1914, studied briefly at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin, in received his M.D. degree from the Christian Albrecht University in Kiel, Germany in 1925.

After earning his medical degree, MR worked in Duisburg, and in 1930 he became director of the clinical and research laboratories at the Medical School Hospital for Nervous and Mental Diseases in Dusseldorf. In the spring of 1936, MR emigrated to the United States because he was invited by Bernhard Sachs, M.D., dean of American neurology, and because MR wished to escape Adolf Hitler's rise to power. MR married Wilma Luecke (1905-19??) of Hannover, Germany on October 15, 1936 in New York City. MR was naturalized in 1941, and WL was naturalized in 1944. No children were born of the marriage.

From 1936-45, MR worked as senior research associate in the Boston State Hospital's Research Division. Concurrently, from 1940-45 he was a civilian psychiatrist at the United States Induction Center in Boston. Beginning in 1948, MR was attending neuropsychiatrist at Cushing General Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Mass. In the 1950s, he was senior research associate at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital (unpaid). At the time of his death, MR was senior research associate and consultant at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and at Boston State Hospital.

The author of four books and more than 100 scientific papers, MR was perhaps most famous for his experiments with LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide). MR was the first to import the drug from Europe in 1949, and in one experiment he dispensed it to Brookline, Mass. artist Hyman Bloom. MR's work also included research on insulin therapy and experiments that provided evidence that insanity could be caused by chemical disorders.

MR was a past president of the Massachusetts Society for Research in Psychiatry and Neurology, medical director of the Manfred Sakel Foundation, a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, an member of the New York Academy of Sciences, and a diplomate of the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry.

MR died of a heart attack in his office on June 9, 1966.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Subject Files, 1925-1966, undated
  2. II. Audio and Visual Materials, 1930, 1938, 1955, 1957-1962, undated
  3. ___ A. Audio Tapes and Films, 1938, undated
  4. ___ B. Photographs, 1957-1961, undated
  5. ___ C. Lantern Slides, 1930, 1955, 1962, undated
  6. ___ D. Stereoptic Slides, undated
Rinkel, Max, 1894-1966. Papers, 1925-1966: 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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