MS 205 Leo Kanner Papers on Refugee Medical Personnel

It’s been awhile since we sent out a finding aid post.  We’re picking up with one of our more recent collections, which deals with Dr. Leo Kanner’s work in finding employment for refugees from Nazi Germany who had medical training (mostly doctors).  One of the things that I like about this collection is how it connects us to another Baltimore institution.

It’s not unusual for multiple museums or archives to have related materials.  People and even organizations are often part of multiple groups and communities.  Leo Kanner was a member of the Baltimore Jewish community, so having papers here at the JMM makes sense.  He also worked at Johns Hopkins Medical School and so they too have some of his papers.  After you’ve read through our finding aid, click on the link to The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives below to check out another one.

 The Leo Kanner (1894-1981) Papers

on Refugee Medical Personnel

1938-1958 (Bulk 1938-1944)

 MS 205

 Jewish Museum of Maryland

Leo Kanner, c. 1955. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine. 


The Leo Kanner Papers on Refugee Medical Personnel were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Baltimore Hebrew University in 2006 as accession 2006.27. The collection was processed by Jennifer Vess in 2012.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual practices


Leo Kanner was born in Klekotow, Austria on June 13, 1894.  After serving in the Austrian army during World War I, Kanner entered the University of Berlin and earned his medical degree in 1921.  In 1924 he immigrated to theUnited States to work at the Yankton State Hospital in Yankton, South Dakota.  In 1928 Dr. Adolph Meyer, the founder of the School of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School, invited Kanner to join the staff.  At Johns Hopkins Kanner established the first child psychology clinic in the United States in 1930.  Kanner became well known for his work in child psychology and his studies of autism.

Kanner married June Lewin in 1921 and they had a son, Albert Kanner who became a doctor.  Kanner died in 1981 in Sykesville, Maryland.


The Leo Kanner Papers on Refugee Medical Personnel contain correspondence related to the employment of German refugee doctors before, during and after World War II.  The correspondence concerns the immigration, certification, and employment of medical personnel (mostly doctors).  Kanner corresponded with government officials, potential employers, the National Committee for Resettlement of Foreign Physicians, the doctors themselves, etc.  Some of the letters, particularly those written by the refugee medical personnel, are in German.  Mini biographies for many of the individuals concerned are written on stationary from The Johns Hopkins Hospital Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children.  The letters are organized alphabetically by the last name of the medical personnel.

Collections at other institutions:

“Leo Kanner Collection,” The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns HopkinsMedical Institutions. http:///

Collections For Researchers jewish museum of maryland