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Charles C. Chapple papers

Identifier: MSS 2/207-01

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts and typescripts, printed material, and photographs, drawings, and slides, 1901-1983, documenting the career and research of pediatrician Charles C. Chapple. The bulk of the collection concerns Chapple's work on congenital dislocation of the hip in infants; fetal abnormalities and developmental defects; and the development of the Chapple Incubator and Isolette.

Series 1 contains miscellaneous correspondence and printed material concerning Chapple's life and career, including copies of his curriculum vitae and bibliographies and miscellaneous typescript chapters of professional reminiscences, containing his views on abortion, his inventions, and aspects of his career.

Documentation of several of Chapple's research projects and developments is contained in Series 2. The bulk of the series concerns congenital dislocation of the hip, including correspondence with Sir Denis Browne, and the Chapple Incubator and Isolette. The incubation material includes correspondence; a printed brochure; a patent; notes on intended modifications; material assembled by Charles C. Chapple on the history of pediatric incubation; a rough transcript of an oral interview with Chapple about the history of the Isolette; and a substantial collection of newsclippings and printed material with many items showing Isolettes in use. The series also contains miscellaneous files on some of Chapple's other projects, including three folders of typescript, labelled "Random memos", documenting discussions, experiments, personal reflections, and published references, December 1948 through March 1950, on hormones and other possible topics of research.

Printed advertisements used as promotional materials for Chapple devices, including the Incubator, Isolette, Croupette, and Electric Ear Lamp, 1937-1972, are in Series 3.

Typescripts and drafts of some of Chapple's speeches and presentations, 1937-1973, are in Series 4, while typescripts and drafts of several of his published and unpublished works, 1953-1972, are in Series 5. Many of these items concern congenital deformities, fetal developmental defects, and infant incubation.

An extensive collection of visual material concerning Chapple's work, 1931-1970, is preserved in Series 6. Series 6.1 contains drawings and paintings by Chapple, including a 1935 diagram of the Chapple Incubator and a 1938 design of the chair bed devised for congenital hip dislocation patients. Series 6.2 contains photographs of Chapplejinventions, including the Incubator, Isolette, a helium chamber, and an exerciser for feet and legs, and photographs of congenital hip dislocation patients, including x rays showing the hip dislocation of Chapple's daughter, Cornelia. Sets of photographic slides used in presentations on infant incubation, developmental defects, and the interaction of aluminum and mercury, are in Series 6.3. Series 6.4 contains glass lantern slides, primarily images of congenital hip dislocation patients at Philadelphia area hospitals, 1931-1954. Many of these slides include clinical information on the patient and case. There are also lantern slides on infant incubation and developmental deformities. Although the distinctions between the several sets of slides in Series 6.3 and 6.4 is often unclear, these original distinctions have been maintained.


  • 1901 - 1983


Biographical / Historical

Charles Culloden Chapple, Philadelphia pediatrician, was born in Billings, Montana, on 27 April 1903. He had four children. Chapple died of cancer in Omaha, Nebraska, on 23 March 1979.

After receiving an M.D. from the University of Michigan in 1928 and serving an internship at the University Hospital, Chapple came to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as a resident in pediatrics (1929-1931). From 1935 to 1942, he was an Associate Pediatrician at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and, before World War II, served as a pediatrician to several Philadelphia area hospitals, including Abington Memorial, Chestnut Hill, Germantown, and Presbyterian.

During the war, Chapple was a consultant to the U.S. Army's Chemical Warfare Service and worked on chemical warfare for the Office of Scientific Research and Development and the Public Health Service.

After the war, Chapple became Senior Physician at Children's Hospital and Consultant in Pediatrics to the U.S. Naval Hospital and also held professorships in pediatrics at the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1958, he became Associate Clinical Professor at Howard University and, in 1966, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Charles C. Chapple is credited with the invention of several humidification and inhalation devices; a chair bed for infants with congenital hip dislocation, a condition he was the first to describe after observing it in his daughter, Cornelia (b. 1931); and, in 1936, the first environmentallystable infant incubator. After World War II, Chapple worked with Samuel Y. Gibbon, brother of John H. Gibbon, Jr., to redesign and improve this original incubator, refashioning it in plastic. The new device, the Infant Incubator Model C 35, generally known as the "Isolette", was introduced to a congress of American pediatricians in 1947.

Chapple was a member of many professional organizations, including the Philadelphia Pediatric Society, of which he was president in 1954. He became a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1950.


4 Linear feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The Charles C. Chapple Papers were donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Dr. Chapple's widow, Sally A. Chapple, on 19 June 1984.

The collection was processed and catalogued in 1992.

Separated materials - oversize

Flat file no. 1, drawer 1

Contents: 3 illustrations
Charles C. Chapple papers
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

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