E. M. Jellinek (1890–1963)

This page is a tribute to E. M. Jellinek, created by the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Library, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of his birth (August 15, 1890), complementing the Special Issue of the Information Services Newsletter, dedicated to Jellinek.

Jellinek is described as “a key figure in the emergence of 'a new scientific approach to alcohol' in post-Repeal America” by Dr. Ron Roizen, alcohol historian, and as "the Renaissance Man who brought alcohol studies out of the Dark Ages" by Dr. Thomas Babor, Editor-in-Chief of JSAD, recipient of the Jellinek Memorial Award in 2005.

The history of the Center of Alcohol Studies shows Jellinek's strong ties to the Center, its journal, and the Summer School. Although Jellinek left Yale before the Center moved to Rutgers in 1962, "his ideas and legacy were very much alive and shaped the Center's goals,"  pointed out Dr. Gail Milgram, Director of the Rutgers Summer School of Alcohol Studies from 1980 to 2011.

"Mystery man or pioneer – either way, the field will always remain indebted to his forward thinking" said Dr. Robert Pandina, former director of the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies.

Biography

A short biosketch of E. M. Jellinek should begin with the fact that no comprehensive biography has been written about him, despite several efforts. His pre-1930s life is not well documented, although new data about his time in Hungary have recently been uncovered.

Jellinek was born in New York City on August 15th, 1890. His mother, Rose Jacobson, was an opera singer with a stage name of Marcella Lindh. Shortly after his birth, his father, Marcell Jellinek, moved his family to Budapest, Hungary to take over the family transport business. Growing up in an affluent and well-educated family in Budapest during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Jellinek was surrounded by an exciting intellectual and artistic culture. While his formal educational credentials are yet to be verified, he showed early scholarly interest in biostatistics, philosophy, philology, anthropology, theology, languages, and linguistics.

At the beginning of his scholarly career, Jellinek wrote book reviews in Hungarian, starting in 1912. His first book, A saru eredete [The origin of shoes], was published in 1917. Before he became known as an alcohol science scholar in the United States, Jellinek was involved in various practical and scholarly endeavors related to multiple disciplines, although there are significant gaps in his biography from 1920 to 1931. Myths and legends surround his involvement in extralegal currency speculation in Hungary in 1920, his subsequent ten-year self-exile under a pseudonym, and his reappearance in the United States. Jellinek is said to have spent time in Sierra Leone and Honduras as a biostatistician during this decade.

Jellinek’s life is fairly well-documented after he relocated to the United States. From 1931 to 1938, Jellinek conducted research on schizophrenia at the Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts. In 1939, Jellinek joined the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol as Executive Director of a project reviewing literature on the effect of alcohol on the individual, funded by the Carnegie Corporation. The project was continued at Yale University under the auspices of the Laboratory of Applied Physiology. The result of this review became known as the Classified Abstract Archive of the Alcohol Literature (CAAAL).

Jellinek was elected to the editorial board of the newly established Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol on February 26, 1941, and became associate and managing editor in 1942. In 1943, he became the first director of the Summer School of Alcohol Studies, the model of alcohol education and training programs in the United States, and in 1944 established the Yale Plan Clinics, the model treatment facility for alcohol patients. After leaving New Haven, CT in 1948, Jellinek established the Yale Institute of Alcohol Studies in the Southwest at Texas Christian University, a short-lived endeavor.

By 1951, Jellinek was employed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, where he served as a consultant on the Alcoholism Subcommittee of the Expert Committee on Mental Health and later as secretary general of the International Institute for Research on Problems of Alcohol. By the late 1950s, he had relocated to Canada, working as a consultant for the Alcoholism Foundation of Alberta and the Alcoholism Research Foundation of Ontario.

Following his consulting work, Jellinek was sponsored by the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation to write his highly influential book, The Disease Concept of Alcoholism, published in 1960.

On October 22, 1963, while working on the Encyclopedia of Problems of Alcohol as a senior staff member for the Cooperative Commission on the Study of Alcoholism, Jellinek suffered a fatal heart attack in his office.

Highlights

1890: Born August 15th in New York, NY
1908: Studies biostatistics and physiology at the University of Berlin*
1911: Studies philosophy, philology, anthropology, and theology at the University of Grenoble; Studies languages, linguistics, and cultural history at University of Leipzig*
1912: Publishes his first article, a book review in Hungarian
1917: Publishes his first book, The origin of shoes, in Hungarian
1920: Leaves Hungary due to his involvement in extralegal currency exchange
192?: Works in plant research in Sierra Leone*
1925: Works as biometrician for United Fruit Co. in Honduras*
1928: Publishes studies on bananas under the alias A. N. Hartman
1931: Works as chief biometrician studying neuroendocrine research for Worchester State Hospital in Massachusetts
1939: Commissioned to conduct a study of scientific literature on the effect of alcohol on the individual for the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation
1941: Begins alcohol research at Yale Laboratory of Applied Physiology as Associate Professor of Applied Physiology
1941: Elected to the board of editors of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol
1942: Appointed managing/associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol; publishes Alcohol addiction and chronic alcoholism; edits The effect of alcohol on the individual; Writes Alcohol explored with Dr. H.W. Haggard
1943: Begins as director of the Section of Studies on Alcohol (later named Center of Alcohol Studies) and Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies
1944: Establishes the Yale Plan Clinics; launches the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (now the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) with Marty Mann
1946: Publishes on placebo effect
1948: Establishes the Yale Institute of Alcohol Studies in the Southwest at Texas Christian University.
1950: Retires as director; retires as professor
1951: Serves as a consultant on alcoholism for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland; develops a formula estimating the rate of alcoholism
1952: Publishes The phases of alcohol addiction
1955: Retires from WHO; begins as secretary general of the International Institute for Research on Problems of Alcohol
1957: Begins a worldwide survey of the progress being made in alcoholism control, under the auspices of the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation
1959: Works as a consultant for the Alcoholism Foundation of Alberta
1960: Publishes The Disease Concept of Alcoholism; acts as consultant for the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario in Toronto and with medical students at University of Alberta in Edmonton
1961: Takes a position at the Cooperative Commission on the Study of Alcoholism at Stanford University, funded by the National Institute on Mental Health
1963: Dies October 22 in Palo Alto, CA while working on the Encyclopedia of Problems of Alcohol (nicknamed “Project X”)

*To be verified
 

Publications

Because Jellinek wrote for both scholarly and popular audiences on multiple topics, it is incredibly challenging to compile a complete bibliography of his works. To date, one has been published in a volume edited by Robert Popham, entitled Alcohol and alcoholism: Papers presented at the International Symposium in memory of E.M. Jellinek, Santiago, Chile (1970).

The Center of Alcohol Studies Library has been compiling the most comprehensive version of Jellinek's bibliography, updating the unpublished 1966 version created by the CAAAL bibliographers.

Some of his most popular publications include:

Jellinek, E. M. (1952). Phases of alcohol addiction. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 13, 673-684.
Jellinek, E. M. (1960). The disease concept of alcoholism. New Haven, CT: Hillhouse Press.
Jellinek, E. M. (1944). The drinker and the drunkard (Lay supplement No. 10). New Haven, CT: Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Inc.

Jellinek bibliography

The “Bunky Bundle”  --Jellinek's most important publications

 
 

Additional Resources

Most recently on Jellinek

Babor, T. F., & Ward, J. H. (2016). E. M. Jellinek at 125: The past as prologue? Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77, 369–370. doi:10.15288/jsad.2016.77.369
Ward, J. H., & Bejarano, W. (2016). A tribute to Bunky at 125: A comprehensive bibliography of E. M. Jellinek’s publications. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77, 371–374. doi:10.15288/jsad.2016.77.371
The full Jellinek bibliography is available as supplementary material that accompanies the article online. The bibliography can be accessed directly via this link: http://www.jsad.com/doi/suppl/10.15288/jsad.2016.77.371/suppl_file/wardbejarano_bibliography_jsad_may+2016.pdf
Ward, J. H., Bejarano, W., Babor, T. F., & Allred, N. (2016). Re-introducing Bunky at 125: E. M. Jellinek’s life and contributions to alcohol studies. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77, 375–383. doi:10.15288/jsad.2016.77.375