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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 997: T-559

Papers of Priscilla White, 1913-1989 (inclusive), 1934-1989 (bulk)


Research notes and writings of Dr. Priscilla White, a pioneer in the study of juvenile diabetes and diabetic pregnancies.


  • 1913-1989
  • Majority of material found within 1934-1989

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted except for folders #1.8, 1.12, 6.18-6.20, 6.22, 6.24-6.25, 6.27-6.30, 6.32, which contain detailed medical information about specific individuals and are closed until January 1, 2045. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Priscilla White 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.


2.5 linear feet ((6 file boxes) plus 2 folio folders, 3 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 1 photograph folder, 1 audiotape)

The papers of Priscilla White contain professional correspondence and writings, including letters from colleagues; printed materials; published and unpublished articles; research, including extensive notes and medical data related to White's writings and lectures; medical citations; reference materials; letters from patients and friends; photographs; and one audiocassette.

When the collection arrived at the library in 1991, some materials were in folders and any loose materials were placed in folders by the archivist. While a few original folders contained titles, the contents did not always correspond to the titles. In 2019 the archivist resorted and rearranged the contents and for the most part, created new folders. When some of the original folder titles seemed relevant they were maintained and appear in quotation marks; remaining titles were created by the archivist. Titles for articles and other writings also appear in quotes.

Series I, CORRESPONDENCE AND RELATED, 1947-1989 (#1.1-2.3, FD.1-FD.2, PD.1, T-559.1), includes medical certificates and citations; clippings about White; letters and cards of thanks and appreciation from patients and friends, many of which were sent around White's retirement announcement; letters and writings sent from colleagues and fellow doctors; correspondence related to the Joslin Diabetes Clinic, including memos about the programs, committee activities, and other administrative functions; meeting minutes and printed materials of the Joslin Diabetes Foundation; Joslin-Barton diabetes camp materials including colorful activity handouts produced by campers, reports, and correspondence; and photographs of White and colleagues, mostly at events. Series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II, WRITINGS AND RESEARCH, 1934-1978 (#2.4-6.17, F+D.1-F+D.3, OD.1-OD.2), includes unpublished and published writings; notes related to White's research, speeches, lectures, and articles; speaking engagement information which ranges from letters requesting White to speak to transcripts of a lectures; and reference materials, which include articles, clippings, and research by others. The bulk of the series consists of White's handwritten notes and writings related to her research of diabetes mellitus, juvenile diabetes, and diabetes and pregnancy. For the most part, White's notes were not filed in any particular order and individual pages of notes within folders may not be filed consecutively. In addition, some materials identified as writings may instead be transcripts of speeches. Series is arranged alphabetically.

Series III, PATIENT RECORDS, 1913-1980 (#6.18-6.33), contains detailed medical information from patients, including letters discussing medical care or health status, as well as specific patients' medical records and charts. Also included are responses from former patients to White's request for updates on their medical condition for the Joslin Diabetes Clinic (1967-1968). In addition, this series contains responses to a pregnancy survey that White sent to diabetic mothers requesting information on their successful and unsuccessful births. For related research work, see #3.18. Series is arranged alphabetically.

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


Dr. Priscilla White was born March 17, 1900, in Boston, Massachusetts. She attended Radcliffe College (1917-1919) and graduated from Tufts University Medical School, third in her class (1923). White first met Dr. Elliott Proctor Joslin when she was a fourth year medical student. Joslin was a pioneer in the study of diabetes and the first doctor in the United States to specialize in the disease. In 1922, Joslin recruited White to work in his laboratory and test new medications for diabetes. In 1924 she joined his practice, becoming the youngest member of the team that would establish the Joslin Diabetes Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts. Joslin assigned White to develop programs for juvenile diabetic patients. In 1932 White founded the Clara Barton Birthplace Camp for Diabetic Girls in Oxford, Massachusetts, with Joslin acting as medical director. The Joslin Camp for Boys was opened in Charlton, Massachusetts, in 1948. The camps provided an opportunity for diabetic children to gather together for emotional and medical support. White and Joslin also pioneered the development of successful treatment programs for pregnant diabetic women in the United States. In 1949 White introduced the White Classification of Diabetic Pregnancies, which classifies patients according to their level of risk and adapts treatments accordingly.

In addition to working at the Joslin Diabetes Clinic, White was a consulting staff member at Faulkner Hospital (1935), New England Medical Center (1940), Boston Hospital for Women (1950), and assistant clinical professor of Medicine at Tufts University Medical School (1950). She spent her career treating patients, visiting children at the diabetic camps, teaching, writing, and acting as joint editor of the Joslin textbook, The Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus. During White's career she received many honors, including the Banting Medal, the highest scientific award of the American Diabetes Association (1960), honorary degrees from Middlebury College (1954) and Tufts University Medical School (1947), and a citation from Hobart and William Smith College as one of twelve outstanding women doctors (1949). She was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha and Phi Beta Kappa.

White's research helped to increase the fetal survival rate at the Joslin Diabetes Clinic and other diabetes clinics around the country from 54 percent in the 1920s to 97 percent by the 1980s. White retired in 1975 and died of a heart attack at her home in Ashland, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1989.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Correspondence and Related, 1947-1989 (#1.1-2.3, FD.1-FD.2, PD.1, T-559.1)
  2. Series II. Writings and Research, 1934-1978 (#2.4-6.17, F+D.1-F+D.3, OD.1-OD.2)
  3. Series III. Patient Records, 1913-1980 (#6.18-6.33)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 91-M113

The papers of Priscilla White were given to the Schlesinger Library by White's niece Louise W. Mowbray in July 1991.


Donor: Louise W. Mowbray

Accession number: 91-M113

Processed by: Laura Peimer

The following periodical has been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:

  1. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association (volume 4, number 3, March 1949)

Processing Information

Processed: June 2019

By: Laura Peimer, with assistance from Ashley Thomas.

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

White, Priscilla, 1900-1989. Papers of Priscilla White, 1913-1989 (inclusive), 1934-1989 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by Radcliffe Class of 1956 and the Mary Mitchell Wood Manuscript Processing Fund.

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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