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COLLECTION Identifier: PS 16

Michael L. Lewin papers


The Michael L. Lewin papers, 1927-1994, are the product of Lewin’s career and contributions as a plastic surgeon.


  • 1927-1994 (inclusive)


Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice.

Access to Harvard University records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation. These restrictions are noted where they appear in Series II. Access to personal and patient information is restricted for 80 years from the date of creation. These restrictions appear in Series II. 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.


1 cubic feet (1 records center carton)

The Michael L. Lewin papers, 1927-1994, are the product of Lewin’s career and contributions as a plastic surgeon. The earliest records are from his medical education in Switzerland. Correspondence, forms, and certificates document Lewin’s military service in the U.S. Army during World War II. Correspondence, conference papers, and newspaper clippings reflect his clinical activities and special projects in the United States and abroad. Correspondence and news clippings also document his participation in a program to rehabilitate people in prison. Also included are research notes, writings, lecture notes, article reprints, and Lewin's curriculum vitae as well as obituaries and tributes written in his honor (1991-1994).

Records are entirely in English.

Biographical Note

Michael L. Lewin was born Miecyslaus Lewin in Warsaw, Poland on November 18, 1909. He received an M.D. from the University of Zurich in Switzerland in 1933. Encouraged by his uncle, Dr. Jacques Maliniac, to pursue a career in plastic surgery, Lewin moved to the United States in 1934 and became a resident in otolaryngology at Beth Israel Hospital in New York, New York. He married in 1940.

Lewin’s efforts to establish a private practice were delayed by the onset of World War II. From 1942-1946, Lewin served in the United States Army Medical Corps as chief of the Plastic Surgery and Maxillofacial Section of the Hammond General Hospital in Modesto, California, then as assistant chief of Plastic Surgery and Maxillofacial Surgery at Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham, Utah and later at Cushing General Hospital in Framingham, Massachusetts. As a major in the Medical Corps, he was one of the 100 “Critical Specialists” not allowed to leave his position. Following the war, he served as attending surgeon in charge of plastic surgery at the Halloran Veterans Administration Hospital in Staten Island, New York 1943-1951; senior attending surgeon in plastic surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey 1947-1969; at the Barnert Hospital in Paterson 1948-1969; and at Englewood Hospital, Englewood, New Jersey 1949-1952, where he consulted from 1952-1990. Lewin was founder and chief of the Plastic Surgery Service at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, from 1958-1976; chief of the Unified Plastic Surgery Division of Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center and the hospital of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and affiliated hospitals from 1976-1978; founder and director of the Center for Craniofacial Disorders, Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center from 1960-1978. He also consulted at other hospitals in the Bronx and Beacon, New York.

By mid-career Lewin began providing his reconstructive surgery expertise to numerous special projects, many of which were overseas. In 1952 he took part in a mission to help the Israeli army organize a plastic surgery program. From 1964-1968, he served as principal investigator in the Surgical and Social Rehabilitation of Adult Offenders, performing corrective plastic surgery on people incarcerated at Sing Sing Prison in Ossing, New York. At the height of the Vietnam War in 1967, Lewin went to Saigon to teach and perform reconstructive surgery techniques with other volunteers in the Plastic Surgery Program of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in cooperation with CARE-MEDICO. He served on the faculty for post-graduate courses of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) from 1975-1982, teaching in Brazil, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey, England, South Africa, Singapore, and Mexico. He was a visiting professor in Indonesia in 1982 and 1983, as well as at many hospitals in the United States. Fluent in several Eastern European languages, he served as group leader for the People to People Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Exchange Project in Eastern Europe in 1986. In 1987 he was professor of post-graduate education in aesthetic plastic surgery for the Educational Foundation of ISAPS.

Lewin belonged to many medical societies throughout his career, serving as president of the New York Regional Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 1965-1966; chairman of the New York State Medical Society, Section on Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 1968; vice president of the New York Society for Surgery of the Hand 1973-1974; regional secretary for North America 1973-1975 and first vice president 1977-1979 of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; and president of the American Cleft Palate Educational Foundation 1983. Lewin served as president of the medical board of Montefiore Medical Center 1975-1976; as chairman of the Judicial Council of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 1981-1984; and as a member of the Committee on Ethics of the New York State Medical Society 1984-1985. He contributed five chapters and 83 articles to the plastic surgery literature, primarily in the area of craniofacial surgery, but also on hands, breasts, and the lower extremities. He also published on plastic surgery in the rehabilitation of people in prison, on medicine in Israel, and on plastic surgery in Czechoslovakia. He served on the Editorial Boards of the Cleft Palate Journal in 1989 and of Advances in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery from 1984-1991.

Lewin died May 11, 1991. The Michael Lewin Memorial Lectureship in Plastic Surgery was established in cooperation with the Department of Plastic Surgery at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center in 1992.

Collection Arrangement

  1. I. Biographical Material
  2. II. Professional Activities Records and Correspondence

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was gifted to the Center for the History of Medicine by Berta Lewin in 1996 and 2000.

Processing Information

Processed by Barbara Quigley, 2000 December. Finding aid created by Katie Ackerman, 2018.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the papers, and created a finding aid to improve access. Items were removed from three ring binders and, where necessary, photocopied to acid-free paper. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals. Charlotte Lellman updated the Biographical Note and the Scope and Content Note of this finding aid in January 2022, replacing terms for people in prison with person-first alternatives, in accordance with the Center's Guidelines for Inclusive and Conscientious Description (2020).

Lewin, Michael L. Papers, 1927-1994 (inclusive): Finding Aid.
Katie Ackerman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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