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Joseph E. Rall Papers 1920-2011
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Scrapbooks, diaries, reprints, speeches, photographs, awards, correspondence, and audiovisual material (1920-2011, bulk 1960-1990; 8 linear feet + oversize and one map drawer) document with a broad brush Rall's personal life and professional career. While Rall was an important figure first as an expert in thyroid diseases, and later as someone who helped define the National Institutes of Health (NIH) modern intramural research program, the collection contains little primary source scientific documentation of his research on the effects of radiation fallout from the Bikini atoll bomb testing in the 1950s and later at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Dr. Rall's earlier work at the Mayo Clinic and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is also represented.

Dr. Rall's personal life is widely, though perhaps not deeply, chronicled in Series 1: Personal and Biographical in family scrapbooks and travel diaries, a few albums in Series 5: Photographs, and a collection of home movies in Series 7: Audiovisual Materials. Some of the scrapbooks are correspondence-based -- often called "round robins" as the letters were addressed to the family at- large and circulated round-robin -- while others are photograph and memorabilia-based. There are also scrapbooks dedicated to Rall's brother, Dr. David Platt Rall, who directed the National Institute of Environmental Health Science from 1971-1990 and was Assistant U.S. Surgeon General for a time. Both the travel diaries and home movies cover the extensive national and international travel Rall and his family took both personally and professionally. The many honors and awards he received are captured in Series 6: Awards and Certificates.

Outside of his comprehensive collection of writings and manuscripts in Series 4: Writings and Publications, there is limited material on his thyroid research although there are digital files (mostly photographs) in Series 8: Digital Photographs and Document Surrogates that include images of his field and lab research, page-by-page photographs of his lab reports and notebooks as well as images of his tools and other artifacts. Donor Priscilla Rall retained the original materials represented by these digital copies. Series 8 also includes images throughout his life including his stint in the military and at NIH, and images of his brother David.

Dr. Rall's administrative life at NIH is reflected in Series 2: Scientist and Administrator, which includes his calendars, maps related to his thyroid research, clippings, and professional events he attended. It is also covered in Series 3: Speeches and Lectures, many of which are from 1980s and cover biomedical research in general rather than his own personal research.

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