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Alan Gregg Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS C 190

Abstract

Dr. Alan Gregg was with the Rockefeller Foundation from 1922 to 1956, the year he retired. He was Associate Director in the Division of Medical Education, 1922-1930; Director of the Division of Medical Sciences, 1930-1951; and, Vice-President of the Foundation, 1951-1956. Correspondence, journals, notes, oral history transcripts, scrapbooks, printed matter, and reprints. Personal items include family letters, biographical profiles, reflections and observations, diaries, and commonplace books.

Dates

  • 1900-1985

Extent

19.4 Linear Feet (51 boxes)

Creator

Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine

Language of Materials

Collection materials primarily in English

Restrictions

Collection is not restricted. Contact the Reference Staff for information regarding access.

Copyright and Re-use Information

Donor's copyrights were transferred to the public domain. Archival collections often contain mixed copyrights; while NLM is the owner of the physical items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. It is the user's responsibility to research and understand any applicable copyright and re-publication rights not allowed by fair use. NLM does not grant permissions to publish.

Privacy Information

Archives and manuscript collections may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in any collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the National Library of Medicine assumes no responsibility.

Biographical

Alan Gregg (1890-1957), a career Rockefeller Foundation officer, was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to James B. Gregg, a Congregational minister, and his wife Mary (Needham) Gregg. Alan Gregg enrolled at Harvard College in 1907, earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1911. After traveling in Europe for a year, he entered the Medical School at Harvard in 1912 and received his medical degree in 1916. Following graduation, Gregg interned at Massachusetts General Hospital.

After completing his internship, Gregg practiced medicine from 1917-1919 as a member of the Harvard Medical Unit attached to the British Army during World War I. After the war, the Rockefeller Foundation hired him as a public health officer; in this capacity he served in Brazil on hookworm and malaria campaigns from 1919 to 1922. Upon his return to the United States, he was named Associate Director in the Division of Medical Education; for the first two years Gregg's main job consisted of reviewing grant applications. The Foundation sent Gregg to France in 1924 as the head of its Paris office. While in Europe, he examined and reported on the state of medical education in various European countries as well as suggesting areas where Rockefeller Foundation funding or programs could bring about improvement.

In 1923, Gregg married Eleanor Barrows, a mental-health social worker. Over the next decade the Greggs had four children, Peter Alan, Nancy Barrows, Richard Alexander (Sandy), and Michael Barrows.

Gregg remained in France until 1931, when he was appointed Director of the newly reorganized Division of Medical Sciences in New York City. Serving as Division Director for twenty years, Gregg frequently and successfully argued in favor of projects that elsewhere were regarded as too controversial to be funded, such as Alfred Kinsey's research on human sexual behavior. From 1951 until his retirement in 1956, Gregg held the office of Vice-President of the Rockefeller Foundation, spending much of his time consulting, lecturing, and writing on medical education and research, public health issues, and the philosophy of philanthropy.

Throughout his professional career Gregg traveled the world seeking opportunities to use the Foundation's financial resources to further the cause of medical research, particularly in the areas of psychiatry and public health. He is often credited with convincing physicians to treat mental illness as a disease. Gregg also promoted the practice of "Great Medicine" in which a team of medical and paramedical specialists aid the physician in patient care; he conceived the idea as a result of his experiences with the practices of European medical schools during the 1920s. In addition, Gregg supported voluntary prepaid insurance plans, which he believed played an important role in public health by lowering costs and promoting access to medical care.

During his tenure as Rockefeller Foundation Vice President, Gregg served as an advisor and consultant to organizations such as the Atomic Energy Commission, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Veterans Administration, the Hoover Commission and the Office of Defense Mobilization. He also lobbied strongly for the 1956 legislation that created the National Library of Medicine. Gregg eschewed personal awards, thinking they might influence his judgment in awarding funds to individual institutions. However, after his retirement, he accepted a special Lasker Award from the American Public Health Association. Gregg died less than a year later, on June 19, 1957, in Big Sur, California, where he had retired.

Brief Chronology

Brief Chronology

1890
Born in Colorado Springs, Colorado (July 11)
1911
Received B.S., Harvard College
1916
Received M.D., Harvard Medical School
1917-1919
Served with Harvard Medical Unit, British Army
1919-1922
Public health officer, Brazil, Rockefeller Foundation
1922-1930
Associate Director, Division of Medical Education, Rockefeller Foundation
1923
Married Eleanor Agnes Barrows
1924-1930
Head of Paris office, Rockefeller Foundation
1930-1951
Director, Division of Medical Sciences, Rockefeller Foundation
1951-1956
Vice President, Rockefeller Foundation
1954-1956
Lobbied for National Library of Medicine
1956
Received special Lasker Award for contributions to public health
1957
Died in Big Sur, California (June 19)

Memberships

  1. American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  2. American Association for the Advancement of Science
  3. New York Academy of Medicine

Collection Summary

Correspondence, journals, notes, oral history transcripts, memoranda, scrapbooks, clippings, subject files, published and unpublished writings and speeches, printed matter, reprints, and photographs (1900-1985; 19.4 l.f.) document Gregg's tenure at the Rockefeller Foundation and his role as a consultant and spokesman on issues related to medical education and public health, particularly during the 1940s and 1950s. They do not include Gregg's Rockefeller Foundation administrative papers, located at the Rockefeller Archives Center.

The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, of note being his correspondence with fellow Rockefeller Foundation officers such as Robert Lambert, Raymond Fosdick, Dean Rusk, Fred L. Soper, and Robert Struthers, as well as material relating to his consultant work with the Veterans Administration. Much of the correspondence also contains photographs relating to his service with the British army and travels as a Rockefeller Foundation officer. Gregg's Speeches, many of which bear his handwritten annotations, address a wide range of subjects including medical education, the role of foundations in medical research, the concept of giving, and the founders of the Rockefeller Foundation whom Gregg knew personally. In addition, the Writings series contain reports on Gregg's work in the Foundation's European office during the 1920s, and a complete set of his reprints. The Writings by Others sub-series consists primarily of published articles collected by Gregg relating to various aspects of medicine, population dynamics, and his membership in the America First Committee. America First was an organization founded in 1940 to oppose American intervention in World War II; it disbanded after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The collection also contains biographical and family material spanning much of Gregg's life, which is scattered throughout the Personal and Biographical, Correspondence, and Subject Files series. These materials include a set of journals and scrapbooks from 1908-1940, and correspondence with family members dating from 1901 to Gregg's death in 1957. A substantial portion of the Family Correspondence contains letters between Gregg and his wife Eleanor from 1915-1956. There are also notes for an uncompleted autobiography and commentary on Gregg's interest in the philosophy of philanthropy.

Abstract

Dr. Alan Gregg was with the Rockefeller Foundation from 1922 to 1956, the year he retired. He was Associate Director in the Division of Medical Education, 1922-1930; Director of the Division of Medical Sciences, 1930-1951; and, Vice-President of the Foundation, 1951-1956. Correspondence, journals, notes, oral history transcripts, scrapbooks, printed matter, and reprints. Personal items include family letters, biographical profiles, reflections and observations, diaries, and commonplace books.

Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine

Provenance

Gift from Mrs. Eleanor Gregg, 1967.

Alternate Forms Available

Portions of the Collection have been digitized and are available at: https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov

General

Processed by
HMD Staff; DMP Staff
Processing Completed
1980s; Aug 2008
Encoded by
HMD Staff; Elizabeth Sukow; Erica Haakensen
Title
Finding Aid to the Alan Gregg Papers1900-1985
Status
Unverified Partial Draft
Author
HMD Staff; DMP Staff
Date
1980s; Aug 2008
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English
Edition statement
3.0

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection Collecting Area

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