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A group photo of dignitaries: SSAS reunion in 1961

Launched in 1943 at Yale, the Summer School of Alcohol Studies (SSAS) undoubtedly fostered a community with special bonds among its students and graduates. Gathering diverse groups of people interested in alcohol-related topics under one roof, SSAS provided not only knowledge and valuable insight but also a lot of shared experiences during the six-week program, experiences that continued to resonate for a long time.

The SSAS Alumni Association was instrumental in nurturing close bonds among the graduates. Through regular updates and motivational articles, the Alumni News kept the spirit alive, while Alumni Institutes, reunions, and refresher courses often drew students back to campus. Some of the graduates, like Raymond G. McCarthy and Sheila Blume, returned as instructors after completing their coursework.

Group photp

A photograph from 1961 captures a group of people in attendance at the SSAS alumni reunion. Many of the faces should look familiar, as these alumni had gained significant recognition by then. Notable alumni such as Raymond G. McCarthy (1943), Marty Mann (1944), Esther Wendell Henderson, the widow of alcohol researcher Ralph “Lefty” Henderson (1947), William Keaton (1952), and many others, were present, as documented in the brief description accompanying the image published in the Alumni News ten years later to commemorate this unique event.

Dignitaries at the 1961 reunion and in the photo also include Yale researchers and SSAS instructors (at that time or formerly), such as E. M. Jellinek, Selden Bacon, and Leon Greenberg, alongside influential figures who remained close to SSAS, such as Marty Mann of the National Council on Alcoholism and Bill W. from Alcoholics Anonymous and his wife, Lois. As the curtain closed on the last SSAS at Yale in 1961, the group photo taken at the reunion, perfectly captured the essence of SSAS: a program that had flourished since its inception in 1943, becoming a cornerstone of alcohol education.

The same photograph, originally published in the 1961 and 1971 issues of the Alumni News, posed challenges in identifying individuals due to its grainy appearance. The image is now available in archival quality, owing to a recent discovery of nearly 100 SSAS group photos. Assumed to be long lost, they were collected and preserved by Gail G. Milgram, former director of SSAS, many of them adorning the walls of her office during her tenure at Rutgers CAS.

The dusty 1961 photo, hidden in a desk drawer at CAS, resurfaced earlier this year. Thanks to the due diligence CAS staff following my blanket alert for any new findings of potential historical value, this rare picture, surprisingly well preserved in its over 60-year-old frame, will stand as another testament to the diverse community associated with SSAS.

Large scale scanner

The large-scale scanner at Alexander Library (Image credit: Isaiah Beard)

Digitized by Isaiah Beard for the Digital Alcohol Studies Collection using the large-scale scanner (pictured) located on the third floor in the Alexander Library, the 20-by-9-inch photo is now part of RUcore, the Rutgers University Community Repository, in the Alcohol Studies Collection.

Stay tuned for more Summer School group photos shedding light on this captivating period in the history of Alcohol Studies.