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Records of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Identifier: MSS 6/014-01

Scope and Contents

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Records provide a catalog of the administrators, doctors, nurses, and patients who shaped and served this pediatric hospital between the years 1855 to 2006. The records span three centuries, from the hospital’s founding by Dr. Francis West Lewis in late 1855, to the year 2006, as CHOP was ranked the #1 pediatric hospital in the United States for its third successive year by “Child” Magazine. The bulk of the materials in this collection are concentrated within the years 1960 to the late 1990’s.

There are a number of material formats present in the collection. Primary types include paper documents, bound volumes, photographs, and slides. Remaining formats include: newspaper clippings, film reels, oil paintings, framed prints, oversized documents, and Betamax, VHS, and audio cassette tapes.

The collection has been arranged into nine series: “Administration,” “Public Relations,”, “Planning and Development,” “Departments,” “Biographical,” “Clippings,” “Bound Volumes,” “Images,” and "Ephemera." The bulk of the records are concentrated within the thirty year time span of 1960 to 1999.

Within and across these series are a number of notable subjects, which include:

The changing nature of healthcare in the United States over the past two centuries, and the impact of the rise of managed care since the 1970’s.

The “Bound Volumes” series contains a number of Doctor’s Case Books, dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Contained in these volumes are a number of charts within which information was recorded such as race, age, address, parent information, housing type, diet, stools, and medicine administered.

Pediatric medical advancements spearheaded by physicians at the Children’s Hospital, such as the development of vaccines and successful organ transplants. Information on these types of advancements can be found in specific doctor files within the "Biographical" series.

Modern medical ethics, specifically issues related to a number of cases of conjoined twins operated on at the Children’s Hospital between the years 1957 and 2002. Materials on medical ethics can be found throughout the “Public Relations,” “Clippings,” and “Biographical” series.

Primary types of materials include:

Public Relations materials. Documents originating from the Public Relations department are plentiful and consist of reports, correspondence, brochures, press materials, and newsletters. These materials begin in the 1940s and stretch into the early 2000’s.

Images. There is a huge number of photographs, slides, negatives, and film in the collection. These images primarily concern buildings, patients, and staff. Many duplicate images can be found within the “Prints,” “Slides,” and “Negatives” subseries’.

Bound volumes. Materials from the late 19th to the early 20th century are almost exclusively in the form of bound volumes, which consist of annual reports, and patient and visitor registries. The bound volumes are primarily older, starting with original material from 1855. Many of the volumes are fragile and folder stock enclosures have been made to protect them.


  • 1855 - 2006


History of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) was founded in November of 1855 by Doctors Francis W. Lewis, R.A.F. Penrose, and T. Hewson Bache. All three had been trained in the same institution, serving their residencies at the Pennsylvania Hospital, located on the 800 block of Spruce Street in Philadelphia. It was after Lewis returned from London’s Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street, which was the first hospital for children in the English speaking world, that he was struck by the fact that there were no such institutions in the United States. Disturbed by the high mortality rate of infants and children in Philadelphia, and inspired by Great Ormond Street, Penrose and Bache joined with Lewis to found the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia between Pine and Lombard on Blight Street (now Watts Street in South Philadelphia). This first building had 12 beds, and saw 67 inpatients and 306 outpatients during its first year.

Pediatrics as a scientific specialty is a modern development. At the time of the Hospital’s founding, children had neither medical nor social importance. There were no hospitals exclusively for children in the United States, and pediatrics had not yet become its own separate specialty. CHOP was unique in many ways, the first and foremost being that unlike most children’s hospitals, domestic and abroad, CHOP was never a pest house or asylum for poor children. At the time of its founding, the few hospitals in the nation were intended to care for infectious disease, to house the mentally ill, or to care for adult injuries which had resulted from the growing industrial revolution. CHOP was exceptional in its being established solely to provide clinical care and continuing throughout the years to do this same thing. In the beginning, CHOP was open, free of charge, to all medical students and attracted students from Philadelphia schools such as Jefferson Medical College, and the University of Pennsylvania. This type of reciprocity soon extended to other institutions, and went beyond the lecture hall. Recent exchanges from the last few decades have included: the Children’s Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children in London’s residency exchange program; CHOP’s training relationship with the American Research Hospital for Children in Krakow, Poland; and CHOP’s resident physicians being instructed in psychiatric principles by staff members of the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic (which was later acquired by CHOP and became the Children’s Guidance Center). Other reciprocities include that between CHOP and the Children’s Seashore House (CSH) in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1998, this alliance became a merger, when CSH was acquired by CHOP in 1998.

In 1866, CHOP moved to its second building, on the east side of 22nd above Locust, in Philadelphia. In 1870, children’s surgery was added, and for the first time, surgery and medical were considered separate. In 1889, CHOP’s Country Branch was founded near Overbrook. The Country House was used for convalescent care and was responsible for approximately 20 cases at a time. In 1899, the need for the Country Branch dwindled as patients in need of rehabilitation were sent to the Children’s Seashore House, in Atlantic City. The Country Branch slowly ceased operations.

In 1895, the Ingersoll Training School for Nurses was established. Between 1895 and 1900, two infant wards were opened, additions to the nurses building were completed, and the Catherwood Milk Laboratory was established. It was at Catherwood that nurses received instruction on the study of preparations of various milk mixtures and other special foods for infants were undertaken in this Lab.

Though what was to become the site of the third CHOP building was purchased in 1909, it was not until 1916 that operations officially moved to 18th and Bainbridge Streets. The cornerstone for this third building was laid in 1913, by Edward S. Sayres (please refer to the Scrapbook of Mrs. Edward S. Sayres in Series VIII: Images, Subseries F, “Scrapbooks”), president of the Board, and Charlotte Rush, daughter of the President Benjamin Rush. In 1914, just before the transition to the third building, the Department for the Prevention of Disease was established, the first such department in the nation.

It was in 1919 that CHOP lectures became available only to University of Pennsylvania medical students. Although CHOP and U Penn had been connected since CHOP’s founding, 1919 was the start of a formal relationship between the two. From this time forward, though CHOP maintained an independent Board of Managers, CHOP became an integral part of the university’s pediatrics department, and attending staff received faculty appointments. J. Claxton Gittings was the first Physician-In-Chief and William Bennett Professor in Pediatrics. He followed by Joseph Stokes, Jr. in 1939. It was Stokes who was heralded with transforming the Children's Hospital into a world leader in teaching and research. Around this same time, Charles C. Chapple, MD developed the first closed incubator for newborns, named the Isolette.

During the 1930’s the Center for Research in Children's Growth was established. Soon after, during the 1940’s and 1950’s, Drs. Werner and Gertrude Henle discovered vaccines for influenza and mumps. Along with Joseph Stokes Jr., MD, they developed the first convincing demonstration of vaccination against influenza and mumps. In the late 1930's, Dr. Irving J. Wolman and Dr. Bernard Spur completed the initial study on the use of homogenized milk for infants, which lead to its acceptance by the public.

During the 1950’s, Dr. Thomas McNair Scott developed a diagnostic test for herpes simplex (fever blister). The “Rheumatic Fever and Virus Research Building” (the first research building) is built for $800,000, including equipment. It was more commonly known as “The Research Building.” During this same time, development of a “control shunt” to drain fluid, designed and tested for treating hydrocephalus. This device is now used throughout the world. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Dr. Lewis L. Coriell progresses in his research on the prevention of polio, and begins to lay the groundwork for the development of the Salk vaccine. At this time, Dr. Coriell and his associates also invent a laminar airflow system to keep operating rooms sterile.

The late 1960’s were rife with change, invention, and discovery. Dr. Alfred M. Bongiovanni was named as the successor to Joseph Stokes, Jr., MD, and became Physician in Chief of CHOP in 1962. Also in the 1960’s, Stanley Plotkin, MD, developed the rubella (German measles) vaccine and clinical trials were conducted. The Clinical Research Center (CRC) was established for hard-to-diagnose, hard-to-treat pediatric diseases and use of new treatments. Drs. Werner Henle and Gertrude Henle, along with Dr. Klaus Hummeler, discover the association between infectious mononucleosis and the Epstein-Barr virus, which ultimately proved that a common virus may produce disease.

In the 1970’s, the Research Institute was created, which contained 70,000 square feet dedicated to research. Also during this decade, one of the nation's first centers for pediatric craniofacial surgery opens at CHOP, where techniques for cleft lip and palate repair that were developed there gained international acceptance. CHOP was also named by the federal government as one of only three pediatric cancer research and treatment centers. Soon after, in 1974, the Hospital moved from 18th and Bainbridge, into its current location at 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard, and the first DNA Laboratory in Philadelphia was established.

During the 1980’s at CHOP, Drs. H. Fred Clark, Stanley Plotkin and Paul Offit developed a rotavirus vaccine for infantile gastroenteritis. A Liver Transplant Program was established, and the Hospital's first liver transplant was performed in 1989. The early 1990’s saw Dr. Robert Levy cited for his research milestones related to the mechanisms and prevention of bioprosthetic heart valve calcification, and discoveries concerning the first report of a gene delivery stent, Dr. Stuart E. Starr proving that a combination of antiviral drugs controls HIV infection in children. The Hospital was designated a Human Genome Center by the National Institutes of Health, and the Human Genome Project was completed in April of 2003. The Hospital was also awarded a major federal grant for the mapping of chromosome 22, a project which was completed in 1999.

In 1995, the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Pediatric Research Center opened on the Hospital's Main Campus, consolidating all the laboratory research of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. This same year, Dr. Scott Adzick led the establishment of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, which is at the forefront of research and clinical practice in the emerging field of fetology.

In 1997, Drs. Nancy Spinner, David Piccoli and Ian D. Krantz discover the gene responsible for Alagille syndrome, a disorder associated with congenital liver, heart, kidney, spine, eye and pancreatic disease. This same year, the Center for Outcomes Research is established to create new methods of health service research, with an emphasis on developing new pediatric outcomes measures. Drs. Flaura K. Winston and Dennis R. Durbin initiate Partners for Child Passenger Safety, and these findings lead to a wide range of enhanced legislation, safety regulation, and automobile and child restraint design.

In 1998, the Children's Clinical Research Institute (CCRi) is established. The CCRi is the United States first non-profit clinical research organization dedicated to pediatric clinical trials. Soon after, in 1999, a number of advancements in genetics are achieved at CHOP. Dr. Beverly Emanuel's efforts contribute to the complete sequencing of chromosome 22, making it the first human chromosome to be fully sequenced. Also, Dr. Katherine High's groundbreaking studies on AAV-mediated gene transfer for hemophilia lead to Dr. Catherine Manno and Dr. Alan Flake performing the first human gene transfer studies for hemophilia.

Children's Hospital becomes one of 13 academic sites designed by the NIH as a Pediatric Pharmacology Research Unit (PPRU) in an effort to address the lack of pharmacological information about drugs used in children. CHOP began a $1.2 billion facilities expansion project in 2001, which sought to double the size of the main campus, and add significant patient care and research space.

In 2002, the first tandem transplantation of peripheral stem cells in a pediatric oncology center was performed at CHOP. In 2005, the supernumerary der(22) syndrome (or Partial Trisomy 11/22) was renamed Emanuel Syndrome in honor of Beverly Emanuel, PhD, chief, Division of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, who spearheaded research efforts into the syndrome.

Today, CHOP is a major primary care provider for south and west Philadelphia and a ternary referral center for the greater Delaware Valley. The hospital has greatly expanded in its 150 years of operation, and annually provides care for 16,000 inpatients and 190,000 outpatient visits.

Note: Throughout the collection are various examples of CHOP histories. For example materials, please see the following folders: Box 21, folders 3 and 4, “CHOP History: ‘100 Years of Progress in Child Health’" Box 22, folder 7, “Shirley Bonnem’s Complete CHOP History File” Box 23, folder 6, "1855 to 1974: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Perspective"


100.0 Linear feet

Language of Materials



Established in 1855, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was the first hospital in the United States to care exclusively for children, and was key in establishing the foundations of modern day pediatric medicine. Medical staff members at CHOP have been at the forefront of innovation for decades, and their work has had impacts which can be seen to this day, in the form of the Isolette Incubator, the Measles vaccine, and its participation in The Human Genome Project. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Records (1855 to 2006) extensively documents the activities of the Public Relations and Planning and Development Departments from the early 1960’s to the early 1990’s. The bibliographies, published works, correspondence and interviews with several major figures in pediatric medicine, such as Doctors C. Everett Koop, Jean Cortner, and Gertrude and Werner Henle, can also be found within. An extensive portion of the collection is in non-document form, and consists of bound volumes, photographs, negatives, 35 mm slides, and film reels.

Restricted Access

Series V, "Biographical," contains some restricted materials: Box 75 has been restricted as per Shirley Bonnem's request, and a number of the CV's included in the individual biographical files contain Social Security numbers.

Related Collections


CPP.MSS.6/0013-02, The Children's Seashore House Records, 1874 to 2004, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Historical Medical Library.

CPP.MSS.2/0037, Samuel X Radbill Papers, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Historical Medical Library.
Records of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Meredith McCusker, "Images" series processed by Jessy Brody
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States