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Allan Macy Butler
Born 1894
Yonkers, New York
Died 1986
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Field Pediatrics
Institutions Massachusetts General hospital
Known for Electrolyte intravenous solutions for treating diarrhea and deydration
Notable prizes John Howland Award

Allan Macy Butler (1894-1986) was Chief of the Children’s Medical Services at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. A pioneer in health services, Butler sought to change the structure of the American ‘fee-for-service’ system of health care to one based on government-paid medical care for the elderly and low-income people. [1]

Butler was born April 3, 1894, in Yonkers, New York. The son of George Prentice Butler, a stockbroker, he was one of eight children. Butler spent World War I overseas, serving as an artillery officer in the American Expeditionary Forces. Afterward, he served in Poland as part of the Hoover Commission. Butler entered Harvard Medical School in 1922. After graduating in 1926, he worked at the Rockefeller Institute. It was there that he developed an interest in fluid and electrolyte metabolism. During WWII, he worked on life-raft studies conducted by the Office of Scientific Research and Development that led to advancements in treating diarrhea and dehydration.[2]

In 1929, Butler returned to Harvard as an instructor in Pediatrics. He attained the title of Professor of Pediatrics in 1944 and served as Chief of Children’s Medical Service and Staff Physician in charge of the Chemical Laboratories at Massachusetts General Hospital. He would remain at these two posts, concurrently, until 1960.

Butler’s advocacy for medical insurance and pre-paid methods of health care embroiled him in the socialized medicine debate.[3] He would also face a loyalty review by the Civil Service Commission Loyalty Review Board. After his trial he provided support in the form of testimony and letters for colleagues who were being tried under the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950.

He was a dedicated opponent of the Vietnam War and a supporter of abortion rights, nuclear disarmament, and nonviolent resistance.[4]

In 1969 Butler received the American Pediatric Society's highest award, the John Howland Award. [5]


  1. ^ "The Pioneers of Pediatric Medicine: Allan Macy Butler". European Journal of Pediatrics. Retrieved 2009-11-09.  
  2. ^ | Allan Macy Butler Papers, 1916-1986(inclusive), 1930-1969(bulk), HMSc313. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.
  3. ^ Acceptance of the Howland Award. Allan Macy Butler, Pediatric Research. Vol. 3, No.5: 475-480(1969)
  4. ^ Allan Macy Butler (1894-1986). Jane Pacht Brickman. Journal of Public Health Policy, Vol.20, No.3(1999) pp. 356-363.
  5. ^ Presentation of Howland Award to Allan M. Butler. Nathan B. Talbot, Pediatric Research. Vol. 3, No.5: 471-474 (1969).

Research resources



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