Name and location of repository
Level of description
ABCC Photograph Collection
- 1946-1980 (Creation)
9 Boxes (4.5 cubic feet)
Name of creator
The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) was formed after the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945. On November 18, 1946, President Harry Truman authorized the National Research Council to establish the organization “to undertake long range, continuing study of the biological and medical effects of the atomic bomb on man.” Key members of the ABCC included Lewis Weed, Austin M. Brues and Paul Henshaw, physicians from the National Research Council, and Army representatives Melvin A. Block, and James V. Neel. By the time the ABCC arrived in Japan on November 24, 1946, the Japanese had already started studying the effects on both immediate and delayed atomic bomb damage in survivors. Masao Tsuzuki was the leading Japanese authority on the biological effects of radiation and determined the different types of damage caused by the bombs and the effects on the human body.
By 1951, the ABCC had 1063 employees, 143 allied and 920 Japanese. The most important contribution of the ABCC was the genetics study which focused on the long-term effects of radiation exposure on pregnant women and their unborn children. The study also looked at the effects of radiation on survivors and their children. The ABCC did not actually treat the survivors that they studied, but it did give the survivors an opportunity to receive several medical checkups each year.
By the mid-1950s, trust in the ABCC was declining. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) had threatened to stop funding in 1951, but James Neel managed to convince them to continue funding for another three years. In 1956 Neel and William J. Schull published their final draft of The Effect of Exposure to the Atomic Bombs on Pregnancy Termination in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over time, the ABCC would become the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF). The RERF was officially establish on April 1, 1975 and is a binational organization run by both the United States and Japan to this day.
This information was taken from the Radiation Effects Research Foundation website at http://www.rerf.jp/glossary_e/abcc.htm and from the donor cards of the collection located in the The John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
The ABCC Photograph Collection consists of photographs of various sizes of staff, survivors, buildings, and events that pertain to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The vast majority of the photographs are black and white and in good condition. The dates of the photographs range from 1946 to the 1970s. The collection is in one series, with the photographs housed in envelopes and totals nine boxes. The collection provides photographic evidence of the destruction and injuries caused by the atomic bombs, and how the Japanese and allied doctors and military personnel worked together and the cultural exchanges that occurred. The photographs focus on the staff and the different things they did with their Japanese counterparts and not of the survivors that they studied. The photographs are in good condition. Some photographs have corners that are bent or have been crumpled. Others have come off of the backing they were glued to. There are some photographs that have yellowed or have some discoloration on them.
System of arrangement
The photographs are separated into subjects for the most part. Examples include staff, subjects, buildings, and events. Not all of the photographs are arranged appropriately which has led to the collection being arranged into just one series.
Series I. Photographs
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Restricted. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce should be secured from the repository.
Materials are in good condition.
Conditions governing reproduction
Restriction apply, including copyright restrictions. Consult an archivist.
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Other finding aids that are available that pertain to the ABCC include MS 044 H. Grant Taylor, MD Papers, MS 063 Walter J. Russell, MD Papers, MS 064 Robert D. Lange, MD Papers, MS 065 Herman Wigodsky, MD Papers, MS 066 Howard B. Hamilton, MD Papers, MS 067 William Schull, PhD Papers, MS 068 Carl F. Tessmer, MD Papers, MS 073 William C. Moloney, MD Papers, MS 089 James V. Neel, PhD Papers, MS 090 Ivan Duff, MD Papers, MS 092 Frank W. Putnam, MD Papers, MS 093 Marvin A. Kastenbaum, PhD Papers, MS 097 Jarett Folley, MD Papers, MS 112 Joseph L. Belsky, MD Papers.
Generated finding aid
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Photographs donated over time from various professionals associated to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), including Dr. William Schull.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Accruals are not expected for this collection.
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
The McGovern Historical Center holds collections of papers of personnel who worked at the Atomic Bomb Casualty Committee and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation. These collections include: IC 085 ABCC-RERF records, MS 063 Walter J. Russell, MD Papers, MS 064 Robert D. Lange, MD Papers, MS 065 Herman Wigodsky, MD Papers, MS 066 Howard B. Hamilton, MD Papers, MS 067 William Schull, PhD Papers, and MS 068 Carl F. Tessmer, MD Papers, MS 170 William Schull Photo Collection, MS 073 William C. Moloney, MD Papers, MS 089 James V. Neel, PhD Papers, MS 090 Ivan Duff, MD Papers, MS 092 Frank W. Putnam, MD Papers, MS 093 Marvin A. Kastenbaum, PhD Papers, MS 095 Raymond C. Anderson, MD Papers, MS 097 Jarett Folley, MD Papers, MS 100 Gilbert Beebe, PhD Papers, MS 101 Robert W. Miller, MD Papers, MS 112 Joseph L. Belsky, MD Papers, MS 161 ENAMI Akiko ABCC-RERF papers, MS 162 UEMOTO Merry ABCC-RERF papers, MS 207 Kiyoko Minato papers, MS 044 H. Grant Taylor, MD Papers. This collection was pulled from IC 098 and similar collections. All photographs have been catalogued and are available through the online catalog.
- Citation: ABCC Photograph Collection, 1946-1975, IC 099; John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library. Please cite the box and folder numbers where appropriate.
- Processing information: Items were taken out of a larger collection (IC 098 TMC Library Historical Photograph Collection). P-5185 was taken out of its individual box and put in order with the rest of the collection. P-5181 remains in its own individual box. To maintain consistency with the library catalog and IC 098 TMC Library Historical Photograph Collection, items were processed at the item level and ordered according to catalog numbers. Recommendations for future action include re-housing photographs from their current envelopes into appropriate folders, and reorganizing the collection to group photographs of the same subject together.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard).
Finding aid prepared and encoded by Trevor K. McNally, 2016
Encoding revised with redactions and unitids by Sandra Yates, 2019.
Place access points
Name access points
- United States Army (Subject)
- Belsky, Joseph (Subject)
- Sutow, Mary (Subject)
- Wedemeyer, Midori Ogawa (Subject)
- Radiation Effects Research Foundation (Subject)
- Schull, William Jackson (Subject)
- Sutow, Wataru W. (Subject)
- Moloney, William Curry (Subject)
- Folley, Jarrett H. (Subject)
- Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (Subject)