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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 304

Papers of Edith Banfield Jackson, 1907-1977


Correspondence, professional papers, etc., of Edith Banfield Jackson, pediatrician and child psychiatrist.


  • Creation: 1907-1977

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Most of the collection is open for research.

Patient records are closed until January 1, 2030. Folders #49, 58, 61, 63, 65-67, and 69-70 are closed in their entirety and some material from folders #36, 44-48, 50-51, 53-57, 59-60, and 64, has been removed and closed.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Edith Banfield Jackson is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


3.34 linear feet ((8 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 10 photograph folders)

The Edith Banfield Jackson papers consist of five series, each arranged chronologically except where noted. There is some correspondence from Jackson's early life, but the collection contains mainly professional papers from the 1930s to the 1960s, while Jackson was at Yale University and the University of Colorado.

Series I, PERSONAL, 1907-1974 (#1-8), contains biographical information, family correspondence, and letters from Edith Banfield Jackson to her sister Helen while Edith Banfield Jackson was in Europe during the 1930s. Of particular interest in this series are three folders of material documenting Jackson's assistance and continued support to Austrians who wished to emigrate during the late 1930s (#6-8).

Series II, PROFESSIONAL PAPERS, 1938-1977 (#9-88, 172f+), reflects Edith Banfield Jackson's major professional concerns after 1930; there are no earlier papers dealing with her schooling or work on the New Haven Rickets study. There is some material from Jackson's work in Vienna and at the University of Colorado in the 1960's, and her participation with other groups and organizations, but the bulk of the series deals with her years at Yale. Edith Banfield Jackson's contributions to the Rooming-In Project, from its earliest conception in 1944 through various federal grant proposals to procedures on patient care and studies conducted as part of the project are well documented. There are extensive patient records from which names have been removed; some materials are closed until 2030. Most notable among the open patient records is #60, a fifty-page report of one woman's attempt to experience natural childbirth and the lack of support she received from her physician and the hospital staff. Also of interest is #52, in which a father describes his reactions to his wife's pregnancy and delivery, his wish to be with her throughout delivery, and his frustration when this was not permitted. A major theme throughout these records is the desire of women to breast-feed their infants, their uncertainty how to do so, and the lack of encouragement from medical personnel.

Series III, CORRESPONDENCE, 1927-1977 (#89-155), is arranged alphabetically, with general folders followed by individuals and groups Edith Banfield Jackson corresponded with regularly. This series does not distinguish between personal and professional correspondence, as many of Jackson's colleagues were also friends and their folders contain both types of correspondence. Of particular interest in #112, in which Jackson discusses the Sacco and Vanzetti trial and her psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud. Folder #132 contains a letter that discusses the experiences of a colleague; a trained pediatrician serving as a surgeon on the front lines during the Korean War.

Series IV, ARTICLES, 1933-1977 (#151-161), includes articles by Edith Banfield Jackson, mostly about rooming-in and infant care, and two informative biographies of Jackson, including one written by her longtime associate, Morris Wessel, after her death. There are also a few clippings about Edith Banfield Jackson.

Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1916-1974 (#162-171), includes portraits of Edith Banfield Jackson, some family pictures, many of friends, and colleagues, and pictures taken of the Rooming-In Project.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Edith Banfield Jackson, pediatrician and child psychiatrist, was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on January 2, 1895, the daughter of William and Helen Fiske (Banfield) Jackson. She was graduated from Vassar College in 1916 and in 1921 received her MD from Johns Hopkins University.

Following internships in internal medicine at the State University of Iowa Hospital and in pediatrics at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, Edith Banfield Jackson went to work at the United States Children's Bureau and collaborated with Martha May Eliot and others on the New Haven Rickets study at Yale University. In 1930 Jackson went to Europe to study at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute, where she was psychoanalyzed by Sigmund Freud. In Vienna Edith Banfield Jackson was able to combine her interests in pediatrics and psychiatry by helping Dorothy Burlingham and Anna Freud establish an experimental, all-day nursery school, where the psychiatric conditions of very young children were observed and treated. Jackson helped many Austrians obtain visas to the United States; her involvement with refugees continued long after she left Europe (see #6-8).

In 1936 Edith Banfield Jackson returned to the United States and received a joint appointment in Pediatrics and Psychiatry at Yale Medical School while also joining the staff of the Grace-New Haven Community Hospital (later the Yale-New Haven Hospital) where she assumed direction of the psychological services for children. Increasingly she became involved with maternity and newborn services; she was particularly concerned with the impersonal approach to birth common at most hospitals, especially the separation of mother and child after delivery, and the discouragement of breast-feeding. In an effort to prevent what she felt were the harmful psychological side-effects of such practices to mother, father, and child, in 1946 she helped establish Grace-New Haven's rooming-in unit, where the child stayed with the mother and both parents learned to care for their newborn infant relatively unaffected by hospital rules and staff convenience. Along with the rooming-in plan Edith Banfield Jackson advocated natural childbirth and breast-feeding through pre-natal instruction and concerted staff support. With other staff members Jackson wrote "Management of Breast-Feeding"; there were over 4000 requests for reprints (see #157). During the following decades Edith Banfield Jackson's interdepartmental, multidisciplinary approach to childbirth was widely accepted and copied across the country. In New Haven, Jackson worked with other professionals to implement the interdisciplinary methods she had helped to develop. She served as psychiatric consultant to the Betsy Ross Nursery and was a member of the board of directors of the Family Service of New Haven from 1948 to 1960.

Edith Banfield Jackson directed the Rooming-In Project between 1946 and 1953. She became clinical professor of pediatrics and psychiatry in 1949 and retired from Yale in 1959 with emeritus rank. In the same year she moved to Denver, Colorado, and was appointed visiting professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Between 1962 and 1970 she was in charge of the Rooming-in Unit at Colorado General Hospital and devoted much time to the problems of single mothers (see #71-75).

Edith Banfield Jackson contributed to numerous reports and was author or co-author of more than 20 articles for medical journals, as well as others for popular magazines. She participated in numerous professional organizations and was a director of the Sigmund Freud Archives in New York City (see #1). In 1964 the American Psychiatric Association presented Jackson with the Agnes McGavin Award for her contributions to preventive psychiatry, and in 1968 she received the C. Anderson Aldrich Award in child development from the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 1973 the National Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect dedicated the Edith Banfield Jackson Family Development Center in her honor.

Edith Banfield Jackson lived alone most of her life and never married. She died on June 5, 1977, in Denver, Colorado, at the age of 82.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Personal, 1907-1974 (#1-8)
  2. Series II. Professional papers, 1938-1977 (#9-88, 172f+)
  3. Series III. Correspondence, 1927-1977 (#89-155)
  4. Series IV. Articles, 1933-1977 (#151-161)
  5. Series V. Photographs, 1916-1974 (#162-171)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 75-16, 75-17, 77-M97, 77-M195, 77-M201, 78-M63, 78-M201, 79-M10, 82-M236

The papers of Edith Banfield Jackson were given to the Schlesinger Library by Edith Banfield Jackson, her colleague Morris Wessel, and her nieces Jean J. Emery and Anne Jackson Wilhelm, between 1975 and 1979.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Edith Banfield Jackson Additional papers, 1878-1977 (86-M28).


  1. Box 1: 1-14
  2. Box 2: 15-41
  3. Box 3: 42-73
  4. Box 4: 74-94
  5. Box 5: 95-105
  6. Box 6: 106-127
  7. Box 7: 128-148
  8. Box 8: 149-171

Processing Information

Processed: July 1980

By: Donna Webber

Updated: February 2016

By: Jenny Gotwals

Jackson, Edith Banfield, 1895-1977. Papers of Edith Banfield Jackson, 1907-1977: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
The collection was processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RC-0051-79-1260).

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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