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Origins of the Reseach Council on Problems of Alcohol: Norman Jolliffe's failed Rockefeller initiative, 1936-1937

The modern alcoholism movement is generally regarded as having grown from two originating institutions. The first was Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), whose origin is usual ly dated to a chance meeting of its two co-founders in Akron, Ohio in May 1935. The second was the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol (RCPA), the existence of which was first made more widely known in New York Times ("Scientists Launch," 1938) and Science ("Reports," 1938) magazine reports appearing in the fall of 1938. The two organizations could hardly have been more different. AA was a spiritually-oriented group committed to self-help and mutual help through the life-changing power of a religious experience; the RCPA in contrast was a prestigious collection of American scientists bent on applying the powers of modern scientific research to the country's alcohol-related problems. Interestingly, over the years AA has stimulated a considerable historical literature about its founding, evolution, and growth.1 The RCPA's origins, however, have drawn far less scholarly interest and remain more mysterious and obscure.2 There is a dearth of information concerning the group's history. One reason for this is that the group's organizational records were apparently lost some time after their transfer to the National Research Council upon the RCPA's demise in 1949 (Goldblum, 1990). There may be other reasons as well.

Sparse as the RCPA historical literature is, the few origin accounts that we have manage to differ from one another. Perhaps the best-known accounts have been offered in Mark Keller's various reminiscences (e.g., Keller, 1975, 1979, and 1990). Keller worked as a research assistant at Bellevue Hospital in New York City under Dr. Norman Jolliffe3 beginning in 1933 and in the fullness of time became editor of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol, of which he remains editor emeritus. Keller tells the engaging story of how Jolliffe--then chief of the medical service of Bellevue's psychiatric division and assistant professor at the New York University College of Medicine--first developed an ambitious proposal for a seven-year study of alcoholism. The study was prompted, according to Keller's account, by Jolliffe's sudden realization that, rather than merely ministering to their physical ills, he should instead be studying why his patients drank the way they did (Keller, 1975, p. 136). Jolliffe's proposal was taken to Alan Gregg of the Rockefeller Foundation, who initially showed considerable interest. Indeed, Jolliffe himself was awarded a preliminary Rockefeller grant in or der to tour European facilities and treatment modalities--a trip partly intended, Keller has observed, to enhance Jolliffe's standing as an international alcoholism expert ("Interview," 1991). NYU's Chancellor, Harry Woodburn Chase, and the NYU Medical School's Dean, John Wyckoff, "were knowledgeable about such things," Keller wrote,4

and knew that a big study of the kind we had designed required a lot of symbolic support. And to gain this, they formed a scientific advisory committee made up of some of the foremost scientists in the country (Keller, 1979, p. 23).
Wyckoff's untimely death, however, in due course5 cooled Gregg's interest in Jolliffe's project. "When it all blew up," according to Keller's account, advisory committee members such as Howard W. Haggard and Anton J. Carlson "didn't like the idea of going out of business, so they formed a society which became the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol" (Keller, 1979, p. 23).

Early RCPA member Ray Lyman Wilbur, then President of Stanford University, told a different story. According to Wilbur's Memoirs (1960), it was "health economist and sociologist" Harry Hascell Moore who started the RCPA some time after completing his work on the famous Committee for the Study of the Costs of Medical Care in the United States (1927-1932). According to Wilbur, the RCPA grew out of an earlier effort to stage a national conference aimed at resolving outstanding factual disputes about alcohol left in the wake of the repeal of national prohibition. "The conference led," wrote Wilbur,

to the organization of the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol, in the summer of 1937, which was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia in January 1938; but in July of that year the Council moved its headquarters from Washington to New York City. Active in the Council were numbers of educators who were conscious of the need for more scientific material on the effects of alcohol. Members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science became interested and assumed such a leading role in the development of the Council that in June 1938 the Council was accepted by the A.A.A.S. as an associated society (Wilbur, 1960, pp. 634-635).
Moore himself, however, offered yet a third account in the first number of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Moore wrote that the group had originated "in the summer of 1937 in Washington, D.C., among a group of educators and scientists. Among those interested at the begin ning of the Council's work," Moore continued, "were Earl B. McKinley, Dean of the Medical School of George Washington University, and Forest R. Moulton, Permanent Secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science" (Moore, 1940, p. 104).

Each account reflected its observer's different van tage points. What can be confidently asserted about the RCPA is that it became the best known and most authoritative scientific organization devoted to alcohol problems in the late 1930s. As such, it reflected the merger and absorption of at least three, and perhaps more, similarly in clined contemporary groups trying to launch and promote scientific research in the alcohol field. One group was started by Harry H. Moore in mid-1937 (the "Moore group"), another was sparked by Jolliffe's efforts in 1936-1937 (the "Jolliffe group"), and yet a third group took shape under the leadership of Anton J. Carlson6 at the University of Chicago (the "Carlson group"). By the time the RCPA was announced to the world in the Times and Science reports in the fall of 1938, all three men were enrolled in "Moore's group" under the RCPA name--with Moore acting as the group's director, Jolliffe serving on its Scientific Committee, and Carlson a distinguished member.

What light might be shed on the early Jolliffe group and its relationship to the birth and early development of the RCPA by archival sources?


Much of Keller's remembrance of Jolliffe's efforts to launch a new study of alcoholism supported by the Rockefeller Foundation can be confirmed and fleshed out in documentation drawn from a single file at the Rockefeller Foundation Archives, titled "Alcoholism, Study of Jolliffe." The earliest item in this file is a 29 January 1936 letter from NYU Chancellor Chase, requesting a luncheon meeting with Dr. Alan Gregg, long-time Director of the Foundation's Division of Medical Sciences (Chase to Gregg, 29 Jan 1936, RFA). Chase requested that Gregg meet with Dean Wyckoff, a Dr. Sturtevant, "and Dr. Joliffe" [sic] because the latter "has been assembling some extremely interesting data from the alcoholic ward at Bellevue" (Chase to Gregg, 29 Jan 1936, RFA).

Neither Chase's letter nor subsequent documents in the file reveal precisely what these data were. But Jolliffe had published a brief paper in Science in early 1936 based on trends in alcoholic admissions at Bellevue between 1902 and 1935 (Jolliffe, 1936), and it is probable that these were the data he brought to Chase's and the others' attentions. In part, Jolliffe's paper took issue with both Dry and Wet alcohol science. He reported that Bellevue had received roughly a quarter-million alcoholic admissions over the full study period, averaging 7,500 per year. Such admissions ranged from a low of 5,830 in 1902 to a high of 11,307 in 1910. From 1911 to 1919 admissions tended downward, reaching 7,962 in 1919. With prohibition's arrival (effective 17 January 1920) admissions took a sharp drop (2,091 in 1920) but climbed thereafter to higher than pre-prohibition levels by Repeal (9,542 in 1933, 7,649 in 1934, and 9,139 in 1935). The proportion of female admissions, surprisingly, had fallen by almost half during prohibition--from a mean pre-prohibition rate of 26 percent to a mean rate of 13.5 percent of alcoholic admissions--and risen only slightly since Repeal (to 17.9 percent in 1934-1935). These data suggested, Jolliffe argued, that widely heard claims that "prohibition and the speakeasy increased inebriety among women" were not supported--this was Jolliffe's implicit criticism of Wet argumentation purporting to demonstrate one of national prohibition's unanticipated social costs. Jolliffe also criticized Dry propaganda in the paper, describing it as "consisting of truth, part truth, and no truth" (Jolliffe, 1936, p. 308). In the present context, Jolliffe's paper was probably being shown to his seniors as an argument that Bellevue's flow of alcoholic admissions constituted an immense untapped resource for new research into the phenomenon.

Gregg's diary shows that a meeting with Chase, Wyckoff, and Jolliffe occurred on 21 February 1936, at which Jolliffe appeared interested in making a "thorough-going study of alcoholism from the standpoint of medicine and psychiatry." A multi-disciplinary team comprising a "biochemist, psychologist, medical man, and psychiatrist working together" would be involved. Apparently there was some discussion of Jolliffe's qualifications and experience in relation to such a study, for Gregg's diary entry for the meeting closed with the notation, "[t]old Chase I would think over question of broader experience for Jolliffe, but that consideration of the project would be impossible with in the calendar year" (Gregg Diary, 21 Feb 1936, RFA).

Gregg did not lose interest in the project. Subsequent diary entries and interoffice correspondence, both by Gregg and by Rockefeller staff member Dr. Robert A. Lambert, show the Rockefeller officials painstakingly building a file of relevant observations concerning the personnel and resources of the Bellevue Hospital. On 19 March 1936 Gregg spoke with Karl M. Bowman,7chief of Bellevue's psychiatric department and Jolliffe's boss, concerning the proposed project. Bowman enlightened Gregg regarding the institutional framework of Bellevue and expressed interest in the alcoholism study, though preferring, Gregg's notes recorded, "to have it centered in his [i.e., Bowman's] hands" (Gregg Diary, 19 Mar 1936, RFA). Wyckoff later agreed that the project might be led by Bowman or by a committee comprised of "Bowman, himself, and Jolliffe" (Gregg Diary, 20 Apr 1936, RFA). By this time a plan was forming to send Jolliffe on a European trip to "certain persons and centers...concerned with alcohol study" (Gregg Diary, 20 Apr 1936, RFA). On 8 June 1936 Gregg site-visited the Bellevue facility, further enriching his file with information on the scope and plans of the (now) jointly-led project and examining the physical and clinical resources the physical plant offered. There had been 148 autopsies in 1935, Gregg noted approvingly--this number being ample for a neuropathological study of alcoholism in such a sample. "Laboratories well equipped in point of desks, lighting and fixed equipment," he also cryptically noted, "but lacking in instruments and glassware sometimes completely and sometimes relatively" (Gregg, Inter-Office Correspondence, 8 Jun 1936, RFA).

Neither Jolliffe's nor Gregg's motives regarding the proposed project are spelled out in the Rockefeller documentation. Jolliffe appears to have had interests in several disparate areas: in the role of vitamin B deficiency in alcohol-related pathologies, in the cultural and statistical correlates of alcoholism, and in the effects of alcohol on body tissues. Though the documentation offers no deliberate statement of Gregg's interests, one gets the impression that the Rockefeller Medical Director was interested both in supporting Jolliffe's new initiative in the alcohol area and in preparing the Foundation for a field of activity that might attract greater and greater interest and requests for funds in years to come. Almost as if musing to himself on this prospect, Gregg wrote in his Bellevue site-visit memorandum:

There is also a large field for study on the effects of alcoholism on the body (nerve, brain, arteriosclerosis, ophthalmoplegia, relation to pellagra and other nutritional conditions). Further fields for exploration would involve methods of control of alcohol including experience in other countries, psychological or psychiatric studies of types of persons who drink, further studies of the psychotic manifestations of alcoholism, e.g. effects of drinking on manic depressive temperaments, schizoids, etc. A further field would be study of the best way to handle acute and chronic alcohol ism, e.g. general hosp vs. special division for alcoholism, and the results of placing addicts on basis of parole reporting which in certain instances has already given excellent results (Gregg, Inter-Office Correspondence, 8 Jun 1936, p. 1, RFA).
By 1 February 1937--fully a year after Chase's initial letter to Gregg--the Foundation had decided to send Jolliffe to Europe. The official grant award noted that it had "seemed to the officers worth while to have a survey of the investigations on alcoholism in Europe, particularly those concerning the relations between alcoholism and mental disease" (Grant Award, 1 Feb 1937, RFA). Alcoholism both caused and, in turn, may itself be caused by mental disease, the officers noted. Citing Jolliffe's Bellevue statistics on alcoholic admissions, the grant award asserted that
we need to know much more about the cause - or causes - of alcoholism, including its relation to mental disease; the effect of alcohol on the various organs and tissues of the body, especially the nervous system, should be better understood; the treatment of the alcohol addict presents a baffling problem which presses for solution. In these various fields more investigative work is going on in Europe than in the United States. Furthermore, there is to be found in certain European countries, especially those of the Scandinavian group, a more thorough and more systematic application of what is known, than in the United States (Grant Award, 1 Feb 1937, RFA).
"A suitable man" for carrying out a European survey, the grant award continued, had been found in Dr. Norman Jolliffe, who--along with Bowman and Wyckoff--had already submitted a project for the study of alcoholism to the Foundation, but who agreed that the Foundation would not consider that proposal "until a review of work being done elsewhere, especially in Europe, has been made" (Grant Award, 1 Feb 1937, RFA). Jolliffe, then, was awarded $3,300 "or as much thereof as may be necessary" to conduct such a survey for five months starting approximately on 1 March 1937 (Grant Award, 1 Feb 1937, RFA).

Robert Lambert appears to have been the Rockefeller staff member directly in charge of Jolliffe's survey. He and other Rockefeller staff, drawing on their considerable network of European contacts, assembled a long itinerary of specialists and places for Jolliffe to visit. Before Jolliffe's departure, Lambert offered Gregg a candid appraisal of Jolliffe and the project's probable fruits. "Jolliffe is not a great scientist," Lambert wrote, "but he impressed me, as he did you, as a capable clinician with a good level head." Lambert continued that he thought the trip experience would "mean a lot" to Jolliffe and, with respect to the Foundation, "bring back a report that will be useful in considering projects on alcoholism." Lambert closed by noting that Jolliffe "clearly understands that the survey grant does not commit us to support of any project at Bellevue" (Lambert to Gregg, 28 Jan 1937, RFA).8

Lambert had two additional concerns he expressed emphatically and directly to Jolliffe regarding the upcoming trip. First (and although Jolliffe had shown an interest in sociological aspects of alcoholism), Jolliffe was to keep away from "sociological questions and the control of manufacture and sale of alcohol" (Lunch minute, Lambert and Jolliffe, 3 Feb 1937); second, Jolliffe was "to be most careful in not letting people think he was a representative of the Foundation - that he should refuse to receive any and all requests to pass on to the R.F. for proposals of aid" (Lambert to O'Brien, 2 Mar 1937, RFA). Lambert was especially keen on the second point. He wrote Dr. Daniel P. O'Brien, at the Rockefeller Foundation's Paris Office--who would assist and monitor Jolliffe's progress while in Europe--that Jolliffe

is a bit naive, and, as he has never been abroad before, he may get involved in spite of our...warning. Do not hesitate to write him at once and very frankly if you hear he has slipped. It might be well if you could have a talk with him after he has been in London two or three weeks; that is, long enough to get his bearings (Lambert to O'Brien, 2 Mar 1937, RFA).
Jolliffe sailed for Southhampton on the steamship Hamburg on Sunday, 1 March 1937. He arrived at noon March 8, and could write Lambert that "the trip across was very pleasant without the least bit of seasickness" (Jolliffe to Lambert, 13 Mar 1937, RFA). His European itinerary would be bounded both by where Rockefeller people felt there were worthwhile alcoholism projects underway and by language--Jolliffe's lack of French and German, they felt, limited the utility of visits in French- and German-speaking countries. Great Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia were to be concentrated upon.

Little more than a week after his arrival, however, Jolliffe suffered a rectal spasm that, on worsening, required immediate surgery. He was confined to University College Hospital in London for more than two weeks. In writing O'Brien of his condition, Jolliffe stressed the need for secrecy about his misfortune or "my family is sure to learn of it and imagine every sort of terrible things" (Jolliffe to O'Brien, 16 Mar 1937, RFA). Jolliffe returned to work in early April and kept a full schedule, in due course traveling from London to Cambridge, Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna, Budapest, Munich, and Zurich and consulting with over one hundred alcoholism specialists. Jolliffe kept in touch with O'Brien, regularly informing him of his upcoming visits to treatment and research sites, asking for letters of introduction, noting interesting observations, and submitting expense statements.

By 23 September 1937 Jolliffe was back in New York and submitted his typewritten final report to Gregg--titled, "A Survey of Studies in Alcoholism in Great Britain, Scandin avia, and Central Europe" (Jolliffe, 1937a). It was a document the Rockefeller people doubtless read with puzzlement and disappointment. Though he had spent more than four months in Europe, visited many leading alcoholism research centers, and interviewed many of its best known special ists, Jolliffe's report totaled less than thirteen double-spaced, typewritten pages. It began with a review of his Science-article data on alcoholic admissions at Bellevue (Jolliffe, 1936), this time explicitly positioning these data on alcoholic intakes as a great and waiting opportunity for clinical research on alcoholism. During the 35 years his statistics covered, Jolliffe asserted, "only occasional and uncoordinated studies" of this patient group had been made. Moreover, Bellevue offered a special opportunity with respect to alcoholism because unlike other "social problems groups" (e.g., "mental defectives, epileptics, psychotics, delinquent children, wayward girls, and criminals," each with its own associated social institution, "the uncomplicated alcohol addict not subject to state or local institutional custody" (Jolliffe, 1937a, p. 1). Next, Jolliffe described the low state of treatment alcoholics received at Bellevue, which was usually limited to a two- to five-day drying out period and release. "The only possible defense of such a method of treating the alcohol addict," Jolliffe wrote, "is that 'that's the way it has been done for 35 years'" (Jolliffe, 1937a, p. 2).

In turning to the matter at hand--the European survey--Jolliffe noted that Robert Fleming's recent report of European treatment approaches9 made it "superfluous" for Jolliffe to re-examine that territory (see Fleming 1937a, 1937b). Jolliffe, it seemed, would concentrate primarily on research. Jolliffe's primary conclusion from his European adventure, however, had been that "[n]owhere...was the problem in its several aspects being studied in a co-ordinated, objective and scientific manner" (p. 2). Several "isolated and uncorrelated studies" were found, however, and, Jolliffe wrote, these might "serve as a nucleus for more extended and correlated investigations" (p. 3). Three specific areas of research would be reviewed: "1) Medico-legal, 2) physiological (including biochemical and pharmacological), and 3) clinical, studies" (p. 3).

Jolliffe's review of medico-legal studies focused on "the diagnosis of intoxication in subjects involved in traffic accidents" (p. 3). This was a highly topical area in post-Repeal America, where many observers were newly concerned that great increases in the speed, weight, and number of American automobiles over the period of national prohibition now faced the country with grave new threats from drinking and driving. Jolliffe reviewed the legal definitions of intoxication across the countries he had visited. In Great Britain he found the determination "was based on the clinical examination of the chauffeur by the police surgeon" and reviewed British interests in not only intoxication but in the impact of relatively small amounts of alcohol on driving ability (p. 3). This, too, had become a lively concern in the United States, and, incidentally, provided a rhetorical terrain where unfashionable Dry arguments against any drinking could still find expression. Jolliffe reported that despite ample research evidence indicating the dangers of even small amounts of alcohol in drivers' blood, nevertheless blood tests would not be used "in England" he had been told, "because they doubt that the English people will tolerate mandatory blood sampling, and because the blood alcohol level does not indicate degree of intoxication" (p. 3). In Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Germany, on the other hand, blood alcohol determinations were used in court, "having the same status as the clinical examination" (p. 4). Jolliffe briefly reviewed particularly the legal structuring of blood alcohol tests and evidence in Sweden. In Norway, Jolliffe continued, a blood alcohol level above 50 mg. percent, per se, defined intoxication, giving a quite different legal structure to the handling of the intoxicated driver.

Jolliffe's review of physiological studies focused on work at the Universitets Farmakologiske Institutt in Oslo and the Karolinska Institutt in Stockholm. Studies underway at these sites were mostly concerned with issues arising out of blood alcohol determination problems: e.g., the time factor in such measurements or the level of alcohol found in a variety of body fluids, "urine, saliva, sweat, spinal fluid, and expired air" (p. 7). Jolliffe touched briefly on "Professor Widmark's" experiments at Lund, feed ing dogs high quantities of alcohol over two and a half years (p. 8). Further work was noted on the organic site of alcohol metabolism and biochemical factors influencing the blood alcohol curve over time.

Finally, Jolliffe's review of clinical studies began with the broad assertion that "[t]he lack of significant clinical studies of alcoholism per se anywhere in England, Scandinavia or on the Continent was a discouraging finding" (p. 9). Jolliffe reported that in various studies the alcoholism of the patient was seen as an incidental feature of the research--for example, as in a study of "the size of the red cells and significance of macrocytosis in cirrhosis" (p. 9). Jolliffe reported that

in the British Isles I found no one conducting studies into the causes of alcoholism, or the special etiological factors, the signs and symptoms, altered biochemistry, treatment or prognosis of the various types of mental reaction manifested by alcohol addicts (p. 9).
In Vienna, under Dr. Ernst Gabriel, "good work limited in scope" was being carried out (p. 9). Gabriel, however, considered "the great majority of [alcoholic] subjects as 'constitutional', and, since 'constitution' cannot be altered, doubts if a real cure for alcoholism will ever be found" (p. 10). Jolliffe also described the aversive therapy used by Dr. J.Y. Dent in London. Still and all, however, Jolliffe's primary finding was a "relative lack of serious studies in the field of alcoholism" (p. 11). Jolliffe closed his report with a long litany of the outstanding areas of ignorance in regard to medical know ledge about alcoholism. We do not know, he wrote, where alcohol is metabolized, the relation between alcoholism and various "mental reaction types," the biochemistry of delirium tremens or acute alcoholic hallucinosis.
Most people know that the Irish are frequently alcohol addicts and that the Jews are rarely so, but no one can say what is present in one or lacking in the other to account for this difference. Still more fundamental, no one knows the causes of alcohol addiction; we only cover our ignorance by terms such as 'a drive to oblivion', 'an escape from reality', or 'constitutional' (p. 12).
Finally, Jolliffe pitched the utility of Bellevue's psychiatric department as a site for addressing important alcoholism research questions. "The acute psychoses," he wrote
can best be studied where a large source of material is constantly available in a single unit, as on the Psychiatric Division of Bellevue Hospital. The somatic manifestations such as polyneuritis, cirrhosis, stomatitis, encephalitis, etc., can best be studied by a medical division having a large source of this material constantly available, as on the Psychiatric Medical Service at Bellevue Hospital. Since many of these patients require study for exceptionally long periods of time, the addition in the near future of a New York University service at Welfare Hospital is fortunate (Jolliffe, 1937, p. 13).
These words ended Jolliffe's European report. A long list of all the places he visited and persons he interview ed was appended. Yet, for all of Jolliffe's efforts the report had barely touched on European alcoholism-related research, the subject the Rockefeller people had intended as his focus. Jolliffe could write that there was not much evident, but Rockefeller readers O'Brien, Lambert, and Gregg were doubtless skeptical of this conclusion. Threads of this skepticism had in fact emerged early in Jolliffe's trip. O'Brien, for example, wrote to his young investigator on 5 April 1937:
Your belief that Dr. Mapother has not in recent years kept up with current activities in investigations on medical and mental results of alcohol addiction surpises me a bit, as I should imagine that this would be one of the almost daily problems with which he would be faced as head of an important clinic such as the Maudsley (O'Brien to Jolliffe, 5 Apr 1937, RFA).
Jolliffe may indeed have come up empty-handed with respect to alcoholism research in Europe, so that his report could do little more than lament what was not found. Jolliffe's unfortunate illness and surgery may be called upon to explain part of the report's seeming insufficiency. More likely, however, is that the report was the culminating expression of a crucial misunderstanding be tween Jolliffe and his Rockefeller sponsors concerning the survey's true aims. At least three motives for the project can be identified. As Jolliffe conceived it, the project was essentially a prefatory review necessary both for launching and for engaging Rockefeller support of his Bellevue project. This Jolliffe perception never altered, from the beginning of the project to its end. Indeed, Jolliffe's letter of transmittal for his European report linked it proposed Bellevue project, with Jolliffe noting to Gregg that he (Jolliffe) would soon be submitting a report of the Bellevue group's work "in alcoholism, the problems we are now actively pursuing, and suggestions as to problems we would like to investigate with the aid of the Rockefeller Foundation" (Jolliffe to Gregg, 23 Sep 1937, RFA).

Jolliffe was also aware that Chase had suggested Jol liffe needed professional seasoning--the second motive for the European survey. This motivational angle is evident in Gregg's diary entry of 21 February 1936 and in Keller's recollection ("Interview," 1991). Finally, there was the Rockefeller establishment's genuine intention to have a comprehensive survey of European alcoholism research in hand before commencing its own research agendas in this area--the third motive. Rockefeller staff may even have hoped that Jolliffe's survey would provide a miniature version of Fosdick and Scott's (1933) widely acclaimed and speedily accomplished investigation of liquor control in Europe and Canada, which study had begun work in February 1933 and managed to be ready for publication by early October of the same year.

Whereas the third motive called for a substantively oriented and carefully evaluated review of alcoholism research, neither the first nor especially the second motive placed similar demands on Jolliffe. Indeed, Jolliffe may have guessed that his case for the need of new, multi-disciplinary studies of alcoholism carried out at Bellevue would be strengthed by the discovery that Europeans scientists were, by and large, not pressing research in this area. Jolliffe may also have felt that European work was potentially in competition with his proposed project--another factor tending to make Jolliffe downplay the value of contemporary European alcoholism research. Whatever the sources of misunderstanding, it can scarcely be doubted that O'Brien, Lambert, and Gregg were disappointed with Jolliffe's final report.

Jolliffe conveyed his previously promised list of proposed alcoholism studies to Gregg on 1 October 1937, noting that he was "especially anxious to get the vitamin B[1] determinations under way as soon as possible" (Jolliffe to Gregg, 1 Oct 1937, RFA). Jolliffe's attachment was a remarkable document, and probably better than anything else reveals his orientation and plans for alcoholism research at Bellevue. "Our work on alcoholism during the past few years," the document began, "has been concerned chiefly, though not entirely, with the role of nutrition in the production of the various somatic manifestations common in these subjects" (Research Outline, 1 Oct 1937, RFA). Nine recent or forthcoming publications were listed--one, Jolliffe's (1936) alcoholic admissions paper and the remaining eight relating to vitamins, polyneuritis, and alcohol.10 Jolliffe also listed a half-dozen papers currently in preparation and detailed a list of problems under active investigation "at the present time" (Research Outline, 1 Oct 1937, pp. 2-4). These comprised an update of Jolliffe's data on alcoholic admissions; a study of the life histories of 100 alcoholic admissions; a study of the sexual, gynecological and obstetrical histories of female alcoholic admissions; a study of the optimum vitamin B1 intake for alcohol addicts with avitaminotic polyneuritis; a study of the failure of vitamin therapy in certain syndromes thought to be due to avitaminosis; and a study of the role of vitamin B in cirrhosis of the liver. Finally, Jolliffe posed his specific requests for research support. These comprised a series of vitamin B1 studies concerning bodily measurement of the substance and optimum intake levels. The services of one biochemist (Ph.D., $2,000-$3,600) and two technicians ($1,200-$1,500 each) plus additional equipment and supplies ("probably less than $1,000") would be required. Two desirable future studies--of acute psychoses in alcohol addicts and the determination of blood alcohol levels in 1,000 or more consecutive accident admissions to Bellevue Hospital--were also briefly described.

'Gregg's response to both Jolliffe's report and his request for support came in a letter dated 2 December 1937. "Your report," Gregg wrote,

is a thoughtful and well arranged account and I thank you for sending us a copy. It gives us a good view of the numerous fields which await in vestigation as to the physiological, psychological, and social aspects of alcoholism (Gregg to Jolliffe, 2 Dec 1937, RFA).
No more was said about it. Concerning Foundation sup port for Jolliffe's proposed alcoholism research, Gregg wrote that he could not give Jolliffe "any encouragement."
Though Dr. Wycoff's [sic] role in the investigations might not have been direct, I had counted heavily upon his interest and his general experience, and his death has been in this particular as well as so generally a great loss and disappointment. His successor is I presume not yet selected, nor will it be possible I am afraid to find anyone so useful and valuable (Gregg to Jolliffe, 2 Dec 1937, RFA).
Jolliffe's brief response to Gregg's rejection expressed disappointment and tried to leave the door open for another request for support at another time. In the final passage of his letter Jolliffe thanked Gregg for the study trip, and, perhaps, made oblique acknowledgment of his report's poor reception. "It was valuable," Jolliffe wrote, "at least, to me" (Jolliffe to Gregg, 8 Dec 1937, RFA). Of course, it cannot be concluded from all this that Jolliffe's misunderstanding and his disappointing report were the sole cause of the Rockefeller Foundation's rejection of his Bellevue plans or, still less, the Foundation's reluctance to fund alcohol-related projects more generally. Other factors were surely involved. Jolliffe's misadventure, however, reveals how tentative were the Rockefeller medical group's interests in this new area and how readily their interests might be shelved as a result of unmet expectations. Here, there was little institutional determination to commit the Foundation's resources to future alcoholism research.


As noted already, Mark Keller has held that the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol grew out of an advisory committee established by Chase and Wyckoff to support Jolliffe's project. Yet there is reason to doubt that such a formal advisory committee actually existed; and, if one did exist, it may not have been the sort of precursor to the RCPA that Keller's account has suggested. These doubts arise from several problems in Keller's account as well as from new light shed on the RCPA's origins contributed by newly unearthed primary sources pointing to a different origin account (see Chapter V).

Regarding the question of the advisory committee's existence, it is odd that there is no mention of such a committee in Jolliffe's letter proposal to Gregg of 1 October 1937. If such a committee existed by this date, and if its central purpose was to lend "symbolic support" to Jolliffe's proposed project, then it seems likely that the advisory group would have been mentioned, and even highlighted, in Jolliffe's proposal. In fact, no such mention was made; indeed, there is no mention of an advisory committee anywhere in the Rockefeller Archive's Jolliffe file. Such an omission can, of course, have several explanations. For instance, the committee may have had a rather informal character, unsuitable for display in official correspondence. The Rockefeller Archive's Jolliffe file, however, offers ample evidence that both Jolliffe's qualifications and the appropriateness of the Bellevue site were subject to careful scrutiny by Gregg and his Rockefeller colleagues. Therefore, it seems unlikely that the existence of a prestigious advisory group for Jolliffe's proposed enterprise--no matter how informal--would have entirely escaped notice and mention in their notes and records.

Another potential explanation for this absence of mention is that the advisory committee did not commence activities until after Gregg's rejection of Jolliffe's proposal. This scenario seems unlikely, too, however. As noted above, Gregg's rejection of Jolliffe's proposal occurred in December 1937--meaning that the advisory group would have begun work in the waning days of 1937 and early weeks of 1938. By January 1938, however, the Moore-led group in Washington, D.C. had already been in existence for about six months, had formally adopted the "Research Council on Problems of Alcohol" name, and had won associated status with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.11

Moreover, no members of the Moore group in this period were drawn from the Bellevue/NYU team. Bowman first appeared in the Moore group's membership in the summer of 1938 (RCPA Minutes, 17 Jun to 31 Aug 1938, LMA)--and probably joined when Moore's group moved its headquarters from Washington, D.C. to New York City (bringing the Moore group in closer proximity to the New-York-sited Jolliffe group). The Moore group's contemporary minutes, moreover, do not reveal that Bowman's joining was accompanied by the recruitment or merger of an Bellevue/NYU advisory group. Finally, Bowman's subsequent RCPA involvements do not appear to have been addressed to the advocacy of Jolliffe's project but instead to the wider agendas of the new group. He quickly rose to a leadership role in the RCPA, a role he maintained until his appointment to the psychiatric direct orship of Laguna Honda Hospital and the psychiatry faculty at the University of California, San Francisco in 1941 (see "Activities," 1941, p. 626). Jolliffe probably joined the RCPA shortly after Bowman but initially played a lesser role in the new group.

Keller's mention of Carlson's and Haggard's names in connection with the genesis of the RCPA is also problematic (Keller, 1979, p. 23). Carlson appears to have been "accepted for membership" in the Moore group on 7 February 1938 (the minutes refer to an "A.L. Carlson" but presumably A.J. Carlson was intended) though (as noted earlier) the Carlson group would not be regarded as substanitally merged with the Moore group until early March 1939. A 6 March 1939 letter from Moore to Ray Lyman Wilbur noted that "[t]o date, nine of the twenty members of [Carlson's] commission have accepted our invitation to join the [Research] Council [on Problems of Alcohol]." Haggard joined the Moore group some time after the RCPA's October 1938 press release (his name does not appear in the comprehensive membership roster published in Science) and before January 1940, when RCPA minutes carry news of Haggard's offer of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol as the RCPA's official organ (Letter, Moore to Wilbur, 19 Jan 1940 and RCPA Minutes, 10 Jan 1940 [12:30pm meeting]). I have seen no evidence of a connection between Haggard and the Jolliffe group in the December-1937/January-1938 period, though Haggard may well have had connections with the Carlson group through his (i.e., Haggard's) then-boss at Yale's Laboratory of Applied Physiology, Yandell Henderson.

In short, the date of Gregg's rejection of Jolliffe's proposal and the dates of Bowman's, Jolliffe's, Carlson's, and Haggard's enlistments in Moore's group argue against Keller's Advisory Committee contention. As already noted, Moore's RCPA was already well underway by the time Gregg rejected Jolliffe's proposal, and Bowman, Jolliffe, Carlson, and Haggard joined that group only after it had been launched by its Washington, D.C.-based founders--though each would have an important influence on the RCPA's then-future. At least in part, Keller's account has been skewed, I believe, by the fact that he mistakenly places the time of the Rockefeller Foundation's change of heart on the Jolliffe proposal in 1936 (see Keller, 1975, p. 137) rather than at its correct date in December, 1937. (A Bellevue/NYU-based advisory committee might well have had plenty of time to give rise to the RCPA if it had begun in 1936.)

Bowman and Jolliffe probably simply joined Moore's already-functioning RCPA in mid-1938. The membership's carry-over from the original Washington, D.C.-based group was very light--and so Bowman and others may not have been fully aware of the RCPA's pre-New York history. If Bowman and Jolliffe left behind some sort of advisory committee at Bellevue/NYU in doing so, that group per se does not appear to have had a significant role in the subsequent development of the RCPA. As we will see in later chapters, the RCPA's prestigious and nationally-based membership of American scientists as of October 1938 ("Report," 1938) was not the result of Bellevue/NYU-based efforts but the direct product of a campaign engineered primarily by Harry Moore, Earl B. McKinley, and Forest R. Moulton.

To challenge Keller's picture of a Bellevue/NYU-based advisory committee's place in the story of the RCPA's origins is not to imply that Keller's account of the origins of the modern alcoholism research movement, and his focus on Jolliffe's "discovery" of alcoholism, is misplaced. On the contrary, such facts as Bowman's rapid rise to power in Moore's RCPA and Jolliffe's susequent leadership of the RCPA's ambitious Carnegie-funded literature-review study in 1939 give ample testimony that the Bellevue/NYU experience holds an important place in the history of the movement. Moreover, Jolliffe's subsequent recruitment of E.M. Jellinek and the transfer of the Carnegie-funded project to Yale, under Haggard's guidance, were crucial events in the early history of the movement that did not entirely flow through the agency of the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol. Yet the story of the emergence of Harry Hascell Moore's group--which we turn to next--is equally important in understanding the RCPA's origins and, therewith, the roots of the modern alcoholism research movement in Repeal's wake.


1 Leach and Norris' (1977) enormously useful review of AA's history, for example, cites well over 500 refer ences--many of these, considerations of AA's history or aspects thereof. Also see Kurtz's (1988) AA bibliography.

2 Lender's (1985) fine essay on research opportunities proffered by Repeal cites Wiener (1981), Rubin (1979), Lender (1979), Keller (1979), and Page (later publish ed, 1988) as excellent discussions of aspects of the transition from the temperance movement to the alco holism movement. Lender rightly observes, though, that historical studies have barely scratched the surface of this subject area's research opportunities.

3 Norman Hayhurst Jolliffe (1901-1961), who was in his mid-thirties at this time, earned his M.D. degree from New York University Medical School in 1926. He served as intern and resident at Bellevue from 1927 to 1930, and stayed at Bellevue and NYU until the mid-1940s. In 1946 Jolliffe joined the faculty of the School of Public Health, Columbia University College of Physi cians and Surgeons where he remained until his death in 1961. His primary professional interest lay in nutrition, and (according to Lender [1984, pp. 263- 264]) "it was through his influence that the deleter ious consequences of the vitamin-poor and high-fat food of Americans came to be seen as the hazard they were to the nation's health...And he all but single handedly made Americans cholesterol conscious, point ing out its relationship to coronary attacks."

4 Keller's earlier 1975 account--which is very similar to his 1979 account--singles out Wyckoff and Dr. Karl M. Bowman rather than Wyckoff and Chase with respect to the advisory group's formation (Keller, 1975, p. 137).

5 Keller's accounts (1975, 1979, and 1990) do not cite the exact date of Wyckoff's death--which was 1 June 1937.

6 Carlson's group will not be examined in this study. That group was called the "Commission on the Scien tific Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol" and included in its membership Yale physiologist Yandell Henderson (Clarke to Keppel, 25 Oct 1938, CCA). The existence of Carlson's group was first noted in RCPA meeting minutes of 16 September 1938, where it was seen as a potential RCPA competitor and problem. By 6 March 1939, however, the two organizations had substantially been merged under the RCPA aegis (Bowman to Wilbur, 6 Mar 1939, LMA). Thereafter, Carlson would go on to play an important leadership role in the main-line RCPA's future. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate further information on the Carlson group. The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections lists no papers for Carlson. University of Chicago Archives Assistant, Elizabeth Sage, however, discovered the following clue to potential sources in a passage in a 1963 book by Dwight J. Ingle (1963, pp. 272-273), in which Ingle is apparently describing the state of Carlson's study after Carlson's death:

There was a room filled with correspondence, books, and papers saved by Dr. Carlson. I examined all of it; months were required to complete the job....I gathered together all material of biographical interest and sent it to Lester Dragstedt, now at the University of Florida Medical School. Lester was working on the biography of Dr. Carlson.
Inquiries at the medical school and a search for Dragstedt's biography of Carlson, unfortunately, have proved fruitless.

7 Karl Murdock Bowman (1888-1973), at this time in his late-forties, earned his M.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1913 (Lender, 1984, p. 60). He interned at Children's Hospital, Los Angeles in New York between 1913 and 1921--also serving in the Army Medical Corps from 1917-1919. From 1921-1936 Bowman served as chief medical officer at Boston Psychiatric Hospital (Lender, 1984, p. 61). Bowman was chief of Bellevue's psychiatric department from 1937-1941, when he came to San Francisco to head Laguna Honda Psychiatric Hospital and take a professorship of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, which post he held until his retirement in 1967.

8 Read cynically, Lambert's comments might even be stretched to suggest that the Rockefeller staff were exploiting Jolliffe's proposal merely as a means for engaging someone well-suited to carry out their desired European survey.

9 Also a Rockefeller-funded endeavor.

10 Specifically, the first of these concerned vitamin B1 and neurological change in alcohol addicts (Jolliffe and Joffe, 1935); the second, vitamin B1 and polyneuritis (Jolliffe et al., 1936); the third, the etiology of polyneuritis in alcohol addicts (Jolliffe and Colbert, 1936); the fourth, gastric acidity and vitamin B1 in alcohol addicts (Joffe and Jolliffe, 1937); the fifth, vitamin B1 deficiency (Jolliffe, 1937); the sixth, the effects of vitamin B1 therapy for polyneuritis in alcohol addicts (Jolliffe and Goodhart, 1938 [then in press]); the seventh, vitamin C studies in alcoholism (Wortis et al., 1938a [then in press]); and, finally, the eighth, the role of vitamin C in nerve tissue metabolism (Wortis et al., 1938b [then in press]).

11 This history will be examined in succeeding chapters. The sharp-eyed reader may notice that whereas I assert, here, that Moore's RCPA had already won associated status with the AAAS by January 1938, Wilbur's Memoirs (cited earlier) place this event in June 1938. In fact, the RCPA first won associated status on 26 December 1937, as is shown in Item 51 in AAAS Executive Committee Meeting Minutes of that date (AAAS). Ties between the RCPA and the AAAS were strengthened in June, 1938 with the AAAS adoption of a provision that "all [RCPA] funds shall be administered by the Association" (AAAS Executive Committee Meeting Minutes, Item 11, 26 Jun 1938, AAAS). Wilbur was no doubt making reference to the latter event.

To Chapter V...