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In the decades after World War II, Mary Lasker (1900-1994) acted as a catalyst for the growth of the world's largest and most successful biomedical research enterprise, with the National Institutes of Health as its centerpiece. She was a well-connected fundraiser and astute lobbyist who through charm and skillful use of the media persuaded congressmen and presidents to provide greatly increased funds for biomedical research. Driven by an unshakeable belief that the nation's wealth could be mobilized to unravel the mysteries of disease and find new cures, she developed a compelling political rationale for federal sponsorship of medical research, built a powerful lobby that won large appropriations for NIH, and pushed the agency into new scientific directions, at times in opposition to the scientific establishment.
The Columbia University Libraries Rare Book & Manuscript Library is the repository for the Mary Lasker Papers, which range from 1940 to 1993. The collection contains correspondence, reports, bulletins, clippings, photographs, awards, and printed material.
As part of its Profiles in Science project, the National Library of Medicine has collaborated with the Columbia University Libraries Rare Book & Manuscript Library to digitize and make available over the World Wide Web a selection of the Mary Lasker Papers for use by educators and researchers. This site provides access to the portions of the Mary Lasker Papers of the Columbia University Libraries Rare Book & Manuscript Library that have been selected for digitization. Individuals interested in conducting research in the Mary Lasker Papers are invited to contact the Columbia University Libraries Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
This online Exhibit is designed to introduce you to the various phases of Lasker's career and professional life. It is divided into sections that focus on Lasker's life and major contributions to fostering science and health. We suggest that new visitors begin with this exhibit, which includes a small selection of documents and visuals, organized within these sections. Each section begins with a "Background Narrative," which leads to "Documents" and "Visuals."
Visitors may access additional materials through Search on the navigation bar. They may also view the materials alphabetically or chronologically by choosing Browse on the navigation bar. Documents and visuals in these lists are arranged by format and then either alphabetically by title or chronologically.