Historical Note: Dr. Marian Cabot Putnam founded and became a co-director (along with Beata Rank) of the James Jackson Putnam Children’s Center in 1943, naming it in honor of her father, Dr James Jackson Putnam. She established the Putnam Center in order to provide treatment of pre-school and very young children, as well as to conduct a long-term study of healthy children, which became the Well Baby Clinic directed by T. Berry Brazelton. A daycare program for the local community was also part of the Center’s focus. The Center was opened under the auspices of the Judge Baker Guidance Center but in July 1946 became an independent unit, incorporated as the James Jackson Putnam Children’s Center. Women played an important role at the Center, employed as social workers, psychologists and child therapists. The Center came to specialize in long-term treatment of autistic children. When Dr. Putnam retired in 1962, over 200 atypical children had been treated. The decline of the Center began in the 1960s with the progressive loss of federal and private funding for psychiatric research and treatment. All psychiatric facilities were affected, especially the university teaching hospitals, but the Center may have been more affected than most due to its small size and specialized focus. The Center, located in Roxbury, Massachusetts, was closed in 1979 due to bankruptcy.

Summary: the collection includes correspondence, minutes, annual and other administrative reports, forms, clippings, publications, records and related material, of James Jackson Putnam Children’s Center. The archive was donated to BPSI in 2004 by Dr. Janet L. Brown, psychologist and eventually an acting Chief Psychologist at the James Jackson Putnam Children’s Center, c1965-c1978. The collection was processed by the BPSI Archivist Sarah Wharton Smith during 2004-2005. Records are arranged by series and sub-series and chronologically. Please note: this collection does not include any clinical records. All patient records and logitudinal studies have been donated to the Center for the History of Medicine at the Countway Library and Archives. Also in possession of the BPSI Archives: Putnam Children’s Center Photographs collection, and the transcripts of interviews and audio recordings with Marian C. Putnam (1971), Elizabeth Cobb (1974-1978), Harriet Robey (1984), and Janet Brown (2004, 2011), Sanford Gifford (2010), and William Eger (2010) concerning Putnam Children’s Center history and activities (see Oral History Transcripts and Oral History Interviews collections).

Finding Aid for this collection is available here (viewing it requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).


Related BPSI Collections
Audiovisual Materials (includes Harriet Robey’s, Janet Brown’s, Sanford Gifford, and William Eger’s interviews)
Child Analysis Materials, 1926-1989
Oral History Transcripts, 1961-2004
Putnam Children’s Center Photographs, 1958-1966
Putnam, Marian C. (1893-1971)
Vertical File (includes biography of Beata Rank)

Related Archives
Countway Faculty and Staff Portrait Collection: James Jackson Putnam

Related Cites
Infantile Psychosis. Overview of studies at the James Jackson Putnam Children’s Center by Reiser, D.E. (PubMed citation)