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Vol. LXI, No. 10
May 15, 2009

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NIH Record Turns 60, Presents Its Entire History Online

NIH Record

It sure would be nice if 60 were the new 40, because the NIH Record, with this issue, turns 60 years old.

The biweekly newsletter first appeared on May 20, 1949, and its first headline could as easily have appeared on today’s issue: “NIH To Help Combat Disease in Africa.” Another front-page article was about softball, which back then attracted a broad demographic, from lab chiefs to custodians. There were just a handful of buildings in 1949, and the ball diamond stood out, serving as both a geographic and social nexus. The Record was a 4-page glance at an amazing scientific enterprise in its nascence. The first editions evoked an era that was simpler, slower and more convivial than the present.

Before the first decade was out, the newsletter fattened up in both page size and number; editors crammed an astonishing array of information into each issue, from the routine to the sophisticated. Through it all, however, two themes remained persistent: the science always got better, but the parking never did.

As a 60th anniversary project at an agency that has always valued its hometown newspaper, the Record recently mounted an online (and searchable) collection of every issue in its history (visit Now you can find out, at a click, when your relative worked here, which President arrived by helicopter on campus and what Dr. Julius Axelrod looked like at the Nobel Prize party his colleagues threw for him.

The current staff of the Record (part of the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, OD) looks back in gratitude at the generosity, talent and vision of those who have guided NIH’s communications enterprise over the past 6 decades. If journalism is history’s first draft, then the work of the many hundreds of contributors who built our archive deserve credit as first authors of an ongoing story that has made our nation the benefactor of the world. It is a privilege to be your documentarians. NIHRecord Icon

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