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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c332

Harold Leonard Higgins papers


The Harold Leonard Higgins papers, 1896-1958 (inclusive), 1913-1942 (bulk), are the product of Higgins’s professional activities as a pediatrician, physiology researcher, and professor of pediatrics.


  • 1896-1958 (inclusive),
  • Majority of material found within 1913-1942 .


Conditions Governing Access

Collectino is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in Series I, II, and III. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Consult Public Services for further information.

The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to consult Public Services for further information concerning retrieval of material.

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.


5.5 cubic feet ((5 record storage cartons, 1 document box, and 1 half legal document box).)
The Harold Leonard Higgins Papers, 1896-1958 (inclusive), 1913-1942 (bulk), are the product of Higgins’s professional activities as a pediatrician, physiology researcher, and pediatrics professor. Series I represents the bulk of the papers, containing professional records produced by Higgins while working in Ohio at the University of Cincinnati Medical College and Cincinnati General Hospital, at the Nutrition Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. Higgins's professional records include correspondence with John Barcroft, Francis Gano Benedict, Kenneth Daniel Blackfan, and J. S. Haldane, as well as lectures, subject files, and patient and research records. Topics include metabolism, nutrition, infant feeding, and respiration. Also contained in Series I are records from Higgins’s participation in a 1913 expedition to Monte Rosa, the Swiss Alps, to study the metabolism of alcohol at high altitudes.

Records from Higgins's participation in professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Pediatric Society, and the American Physiological Society, are included in Series II. Series III, Personal Records, contains Higgins’s school notebooks from his undergraduate studies at Harvard College, as well as personal correspondence with family members, including a large number of letters from his father, James William Higgins. The papers also contain Higgins’s writings (Series IV) and collected reprints and publications (Series V).

Materials entirely in English.

Biographical Note

Harold Leonard Higgins (1887-1971), A.B., 1907, Harvard College; M.D., 1919, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was a physiologist, pediatrician, and professor of pediatrics. Higgins's initial research focused on physiology and included work on metabolism, respiration, and gas analysis. After earning his M.D. and shifting to pediatrics, his areas of interest expanded to include feeding and nutrition, diabetes, epilepsy, and intestinal disorders.

Harold Leonard Higgins was born in 1887 in Gloucester, Massachusetts to James William Higgins (1849-1926), a Methodist clergyman, and Addie Isabel Leonard (1857-1904). He attended Massachusetts public schools in Lynn, Chelsea, Boston, Lowell, and Waltham, ultimately graduating from Waltham High School in 1903. In 1907, Higgins received an A.B. from Harvard College, and upon graduating, served as an Instructor in Chemistry at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania for one year before moving to the Nutrition Laboratory of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, D.C. in 1908. While at the Nutrition Laboratory, he worked under Francis Gano Benedict (1870-1957) and collaborated with a number of visiting investigators, including Edward Provan Cathcart (1877-), David Linn Edsall (1869-), Elliot Proctor Joslin (1869-1962), and James Howard Means (1885-1967). Higgins made two trips to Europe during his time at the Nutrition Laboratory, working with J. S. (John Scott) Haldane (1860-1936) at Oxford University and John Barcroft at Cambridge University, and participating in an expedition to the International Laboratory at Monte Rosa, the Swiss Alps, in 1913 to study the metabolism of alcohol at high altitudes.

In 1915, Higgins left the Carnegie Institute and moved to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to work with pediatrician John Howland (1873-1926); he earned his M.D. in 1919. During this time, Higgins worked under Howland in the laboratories of, as well as interned and served as assistant resident for, the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children, Baltimore and was a private in the Students’ Army Training Corps during World War I. In 1920, Higgins followed pediatrician Kenneth Daniel Blackfan (1883-1941) to the University of Cincinnati Medical College, serving as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Professor of Pediatrics while also working in the Pediatrics Department of the Cincinnati General Hospital. Higgins moved again in 1927 to Harvard Medical School, where he served as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, and to Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, as Chief of the Children’s Medical Service, where he served until 1942.

Higgins was a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Physiological Society, the American Pediatric Society, and the Massachusetts Medical Society, as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 1922, Higgins married Mary Louise Crane. They had no children. Higgins died in Newton, Massachusetts of pulmonary edema and rheumatic heart disease at age 83.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Professional Records, 1910-1941, undated
  2. ___A. University of Cincinnati Medical College/Cincinnati General Hospital, 1915-1927, undated
  3. ______1. Correspondence, 1921-1927
  4. _________ a. Alphabetical Correspondence, 1921-1925
  5. _________ b. Chronological Correspondence, 1923-1927
  6. ______ 2. Teaching Records, 1922-1927, undated
  7. ______ 3. Patient Records, 1920-1925, undated
  8. ______ 4. Subject Files, 1915-1926, undated
  9. ___B. Nutrition Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1910-1915, undated
  10. ______ 1. Monte Rosa Expedition Records, 1913, undated
  11. ______ 2. Correspondence, 1910-1915
  12. ______ 3. Research Records, 1910-1913, undated
  13. ______ 4. Subject Files, 1910-1915
  14. ___C. Massachusetts General Hospital, 1929-1941, undated
  15. ______ 1. Correspondence, 1939-1942, undated
  16. ______ 2. Administrative Records, 1934-1941, undated
  17. ______ 3. Subject Files, circa 1930s-1941, undated
  18. ______ 4. Patient Records, 1929-1937
  19. ___D. Harvard Medical School, 1928-1941, undated
  20. ______ 1. Correspondence, 1929-1939
  21. ______ 2. Teaching Records, 1928-1941, undated
  22. II. Professional Organizations Records, 1920-1946, 1957-1958
  23. III. Personal Records, 1896-1946, undated
  24. ___ A. Correspondence, 1904-1946, undated
  25. ___ B. School Notebooks, 1896-1916, undated
  26. ___ C. Miscellaneous, 1935, undated
  27. IV. Writings, 1908, 1923-1946, undated
  28. V. Collected Reprints and Publications, 1918, 1927, 1935-1948, 1957-1958, undated

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

Processing Information

Processed by Bryan Sutherland, January 2010.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access to the collection. To enhance preservation, processing staff re-housed the collection and, where necessary, photocopied documents onto acid-free paper. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine were discarded. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals.
Link to catalog
Higgins, Harold Leonard. Papers, 1896-1958 (inclusive), 1913-1942 (bulk): Finding Aid
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.

Repository Details

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

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