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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c357

Thomas Huckle Weller papers


The Thomas Huckle Weller papers, 1896-2007 (inclusive), 1940-1990 (bulk), are the product of Weller’s activities as a researcher, educator, lecturer, consultant, and contributing member of national and international organizations.


  • 1896-2007 (inclusive),
  • Majority of material found within 1940-1990 .


Language of Materials

Papers are predominately in English. Occasional scientific paper reprints, newspaper clippings, and correspondence are in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Thai.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Access to Harvard University records and certain organizational records are restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series I-VII. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in Series I-VIII. Names of patients whose cases have been made public were not redacted in folder titles, however, use of their patient records are restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. Researchers may apply for access to restricted records. Records related to Howard H. Hiatt (born 1925), as found in Series I and VI, are closed at the request of the donors for Hiatt’s lifetime. Consult Public Services for further information.

Access to audio-visual records in this collection (as found in Series IVC3) is premised on the availability of necessary playback equipment and the condition of the media. Consult Public Services for further information.

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.


65.7 cubic feet (64 records center cartons, 7 oversize flat storage boxes, 1 small square archival box, and flat file storage cabinet)
The Thomas Huckle Weller papers, 1940-1990 (bulk), are the product of Weller’s activities as a researcher, educator, lecturer, consultant, and contributing member of national and international organizations. The papers consist of eight series: Series I. Professional Records; Series II. Professional Activities Records; Series III. Personal and Professional Correspondence; Series IV. Research Records; Series V. Subject Files; Series VI. Writings and Publications; Series VII. Personal Records; and Series VIII. Collected Reprints and Publications.

Professional Records and Professional Activities Records (Series I and II) consists of administrative and research records, meeting minutes, reports, personnel records, correspondence, presentations, and drafts produced by Weller and his colleagues while at Harvard School of Public Health, serving in the United States Army, and as a member of various national and international organizations. Correspondence (Series III) contains Weller’s incoming and outgoing correspondence with individuals and organizations, accompanied by article drafts, reports, and committee records. Research Records (Series IV) consists of laboratory notebooks, slides, charts, reports, and photographs and negatives from Weller’s poliomyelitis, rubella, varicella-zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, and schistosomiasis research. The papers also include: reprints, articles, reports, and correspondence about cytomegalovirus, measles, rubella, poliomyelitis, varicella-zoster virus, and helminthes (Series V); Weller’s manuscript drafts, notes, negatives, and correspondence (Series VI); correspondence with friends and family, journals, Nobel Prize related records, and awards and certificates (Series VII); and collected reprints, articles, and reports about measles, rubella, poliomyelitis, and kuru (Series VIII).

Papers are predominately in English. Some correspondence and publications are in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Thai.

Biographical Notes

Thomas Huckle Weller (1915-2008), A.B., S.M., 1936, 1937, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; M.D., 1940, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was a virologist and 1954 Nobel Prize winner who headed the Department of Tropical Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, from 1954 to1981.

Weller was born 15 June 1915, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His father, Carl Vernon Weller, headed the pathology department at the University of Michigan, where Weller studied medical zoology and parasitology. At Harvard Medical School, Weller continued his interest in parasitology, combining it with a concern for medical applications in the public health field. In 1942, Weller enlisted in the Army Medical Corps, and while stationed in Puerto Rico, was in charge of the Parasitology and Malaria sections. He also studied cases of schistosomiasis in the country’s male population and developed new diagnostic methods. After the war, Weller returned to Boston to take a position at Children’s Hospital and continued as a research fellow in Pediatrics. In 1948, while working to develop new ways of culturing viruses, he and his colleagues, John Franklin Enders and Frederick Chapman Robbins, were successful in growing the polio virus in human embryonic tissue. This made it possible for Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk to create their polio vaccine. In 1954, Weller and his two collaborators were honored with a Nobel Prize for their efforts. The award came shortly after Weller had accepted Harvard School of Public Health's Richard P. Strong Professorship appointment as head of the Department of Tropical Health, a position he held until his retirement in 1981. In 1953, Weller was asked by the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board to create a commission on parasitic diseases to direct research studies on the effects of such diseases on world populations. Weller served as Director of the Commission while also acting as consultant to the Surgeon General from 1953 to 1959; he would later serve on the Commission on Malaria from 1964 to1972. Throughout, Weller continued his work in virology, and in 1957, he successfully cultivated varicella-zoster, the cause of chicken-pox and shingles. In 1960, using a sample virus obtained from his ten year old son, he isolated the rubella virus responsible for the German measles.

In addition to the winning the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1954, Weller received many awards for his research, including induction into the National Academy of Science, the E. Mead Johnson Award of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the George Ledlie Prize of Harvard University, and the Walter Reed Medal from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Weller wrote an autobiography in 2004 entitled, Growing Pathogens in Tissue Cultures: Fifty Years in Academic Tropical Medicine, Pediatrics, and Virology.

Thomas Huckle Weller married Kathleen Fahey in 1945, and had two sons, Peter and Robert, and two daughters, Janet and Nancy. He died in 2008.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Professional Records, 1940-2004, undated
  2. ___A. Harvard University Records, 1940-2004, undated
  3. ______ 1. Teaching Records, 1943, 1960-1996
  4. ______2. Administrative Records, 1940-2003
  5. _________ a. Meeting, Committee, and Personnel Related Records, 1940-2003
  6. _________ b. Grants and Fundraising Records, 1946-1994
  7. ______3. Harvard School of Public Health-Wellcome Trust Brazil Project, 1955-1998, undated
  8. _________ a. Administrative Records and Travel Reports, 1962-1987, 1997-1998, undated
  9. _________ b. Correspondence, 1972-1979
  10. _________ c. Writings and Publications Resulting from Project, 1955, 1975-1990, undated
  11. ______ 4. Appointment Books, 1952-2004
  12. ___ B. United States Army Records, 1940-1959, 1983, 1997
  13. ___ C. Armed Forces Epidemiological Board Records, 1952-1973, 1983
  14. II. Professional Activities Records, 1938, 1947-2005, undated
  15. ___A. Committee, Meeting, and Travel Records, 1938, 1948-2005, undated
  16. ______ 1. Chronological, 1938, 1948-1997, undated
  17. ______ 2. Alphabetical, 1952-1998
  18. ______3. Poliomyelitis, Rubella, and Varicella-Zoster Virus Related Committee, Meeting, and Research Records, 1948-2005, undated
  19. _________ a. Poliomyelitis Records, 1948-1968, 1977-1979, 1986-2002, undated
  20. _________ b. Rubella Records, 1959-1969, 1988, undated
  21. _________ c. Varicella-Zoster Virus Records, 1948, 1976-1983, 1990-2005
  22. ___ B. Consulting Records, 1947-1964, 1977-1978, 1984-1997
  23. III. Personal and Professional Correspondence, 1862, 1916, 1926-2007, undated
  24. ___ A. Alphabetical by Correspondent, 1916, 1928-2004, undated
  25. ___ B. Alphabetical by Association, Organization, or Subject, 1926-1932, 1943-2005
  26. ___ C. Chronological, 1862, 1936-2007
  27. IV. Research Records, circa 1903-1904, 1940-1983, 1996, undated
  28. ___ A. Laboratory Notebooks, 1940-1983, 1996, undated
  29. ___ B. Charts and Graphs, circa 1904, 1951, undated
  30. ___C. Audiovisual Materials and Visual Works, circa 1903-1904, 1950-1981, undated
  31. ______ 1. Photographs and Negatives, 1952-1963, 1978-1981, undated
  32. ______ 2. Slides, circa 1903-1904, 1950-1981, undated
  33. ______ 3. Films, 1967-1969
  34. V. Subject Files, 1768, 1875, 1886, 1896-2005
  35. ___ A. Viruses, 1768, 1875, 1886, 1903-2005
  36. ___B. Parasites, 1896-2004
  37. ______ 1. Protozoa, 1896-1910, 1927-2003
  38. ______2. Helminths, 1901-2004
  39. _________ a. Flatworms, 1921-2000
  40. _________ b. Tapeworms, 1927-2004
  41. _________ c. Roundworms, 1901-2003
  42. ___ C. Bacteria, Fungus, Prions, and Related Subjects, 1907-2004
  43. VI. Writings and Publications, 1933-2003, undated
  44. ___ A. Reprints, 1933-2003, undated
  45. ___B. Manuscript and Lecture Drafts, 1947-2003, undated
  46. ______ 1. Lecture Notes, 1947-1995, undated
  47. ______ 2. Manuscript Drafts and Unpublished Lectures, 1950-2003, undated
  48. ___ C. Thomas Huckle Weller’s Autobiography, undated
  49. VII. Personal Records, 1900-2006, undated
  50. ___ A. Nobel Prize Records, 1943-2002
  51. ___ B. Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas, 1931-1956, 1964-1990, 2005, undated
  52. ___ C. Biographical Records, 1930-1938, undated
  53. ___ D. Photographs and Negatives, 1900-1998, 2006, undated
  54. ___ E. Travel Records, 1992-2005
  55. ___ F. Articles and Newspaper Clippings, 1950-2006
  56. VIII. Collected Reprints and Publications, 1906-1907, 1915-1926, 1934-2004, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

  1. Accession number 2012-045. Donated by Peter Weller and Anne Nicholson-Weller. 2011 December 06.
  2. Accession number 2012-072. Donated by Peter Weller and Anne Nicholson-Weller. 2012 March 06.
  3. Accession number 2014-046. Donated by Peter Weller and Anne Nicholson-Weller. 2013 July.

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

  1. Records of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. H MS c192.
  2. Records of the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Tropical Public Health. ACC. 2011-036.


Microscope slides and a rectal scraper prototype were transferred to the Warren Anatomical Museum in 2014.

General note

  1. Weller, Thomas Huckle, 1915-2008.
  2. Aitken, Thomas H. G.
  3. Andrade, Zilton A.
  4. Berggren, Warren L.
  5. Davis, A., 1928-2013.
  6. Dennis, E. W.
  7. Enders, John F.
  8. Fendall, N. R. E.
  9. Gear, James H. S. (James Henderson Sutherland), 1905-
  10. Gordon Smith, C. E.
  11. Hiatt, Howard H.
  12. Hoff, Rodney.
  13. Hopwood, B. E. C.
  14. Morrow, R. H.
  15. Mott, Kenneth E.
  16. Neva, Franklin A.
  17. Robbins, Frederick C., 1916-2003.
  18. Russell, Paul Farr, 1894-
  19. Sabin, Albert B. (Albert Bruce), 1906-
  20. Scott, Virgil C.
  21. Sleigh, Adrian.
  22. Snyder, John Crayton, 1910-
  23. Watson, Robert B.
  24. Williams, Peter O. (Peter Orchard), 1925-
Corporate Entities
  1. Harvard Medical School.
  2. Harvard School of Public Health. Department of Tropical Public Health.
  3. Rockefeller Foundation.
  4. United States. Armed Forces Epidemiological Board.
  5. Wellcome Trust (London, England).
  6. Caribbean Health Research Council.
  7. National Academy of Sciences (U.S.).
  8. National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council (U.S.).
  9. National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
  10. National Institutes of Health (U.S.).
  11. National Research Council (U.S.).
  12. Nobel Conference.
  13. Pan American Health Organization.
  14. United States. Army.
  15. World Health Organization.
Subjects (Library of Congress)
  1. Chagas' disease.
  2. Cytomegaloviruses.
  3. Epidemiology.
  4. Helminths.
  5. Influenza.
  6. Malaria.
  7. Measles.
  8. Microbiology.
  9. Mumps.
  10. Parasites.
  11. Poliomyelitis.
  12. Protozoa.
  13. Rickettsia.
  14. Rubella.
  15. Schistosomiasis.
  16. Ticks.
  17. Tissue culture.
  18. Tropical medicine.
  19. Varicella-zoster virus.
  20. Virology.
  21. Viruses.
Subjects (Medical Subject Headings)
  1. Chagas Disease
  2. Cytomegalovirus
  3. Epidemiology
  4. Helminths
  5. Herpesvirus 3, Human
  6. Malaria
  7. Measles
  8. Microbiology
  9. Mumps
  10. Parasites
  11. Poliomyelitis
  12. Protozoan Infections
  13. Rickettsia rickettsii
  14. Rubella
  15. Schistosomiasis
  16. Ticks
  17. Tissue Culture Techniques
  18. Tropical Medicine
  19. Virology
  20. Viruses
Geographic Locations
  1. Bahia (Brazil : State).
Genres and Forms of Materials
  1. Black-and-white negatives.
  2. Filmstrips.
  3. Laboratory notebooks.
  4. Lantern slides.
  5. Photographs.
  6. Slides (photographs).
  1. Parasitologists.
  2. Virologists.

Processing Information

Processed by Meghan M. Bannon, March 2014, with two additional cubic feet of Armed Forces Epidemiological Board records (now in boxes 12-14) processed by Cheryl Ostrowski, January 2011.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine refoldered, arranged, reboxed, and described the records and created a finding aid to enhance researcher access:
  1. Rusty paper fasteners were removed
  1. Fragile materials, including newspaper clippings, were photocopied onto acid-free paper
  1. Spiral bindings were removed where possible
  1. Records in three-ring binders were removed and placed in folders
  1. Slides were removed to archival containers
  1. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals when available and titles supplied by the processing staff appear in brackets only on the physical folders
  1. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine were discarded
  1. Institutional records related to the Harvard School of Public Health were transferred to the institutional archives
  1. All audio-video materials were assessed as part of Harvard University's Weissman Preservation Center audiovisual records survey, with conservator notes recorded in the Weissman's survey database, SAVE.
Link to catalog
Weller, Thomas Huckle, 1915-2008. Papers, 1896-2007 (inclusive), 1940-1990 (bulk): Finding Aid.
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Weller family. Records pertaining to the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board were previously processed with grant funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as awarded and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), 2010.

Repository Details

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

10 Shattuck Street
Boston MA 02115
(617) 432-2170