The Bunky head. The small, bronze, possibly birthday hat wearing bust you may have noticed as you entered the Center of Alcohol Studies Library. Whose face deserved its very own sculpture? What is the history of this piece? And how did it come to rest at CAS?
I first learned about the “Bunky” head in my time as a graduate assistant at the Library. The inscription at the bottom reads “Mark Keller, scholar, editor and documentalist.” It was later while working on a project about the relationship between E. M. Jellinek and Mark Keller that I discovered the history of the sculpture and how it represented the friendship and admiration between these two men.
The E. M. Jellinek Memorial Fund
In 1965, two years after E. M. Jellinek’s passing, several world organizations in the alcohol field established the E. M. Jellinek Memorial Fund. Some of these organizations included the National Council on Alcoholism, the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, the International Council on Alcohol and Addictions, and the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies. In a 1972 speech given by Mark Keller, he says,
“…all the organizations and leaders in this field felt it was necessary to establish a grand memorial to the name of E. M. Jellinek” (Bill Wilson Bunky Award, 1972).
The first meeting of the Board of Directors was held on June 2, 1964 in New York City. At this meeting, Mark Keller was elected President and R. Brinkley Smithers Vice President and Treasurer (Meeting Minutes, 1964). In honoring Jellinek, the fund created the E. M. Jellinek Memorial Award, a prize “to be awarded periodically to promising scientists and scholars who were making outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of alcoholism” (Bill Wilson Bunky Award, 1972). Along with a cash prize, each recipient, chosen by a selection committee, would receive a “Bunky”. The very first Jellinek Award was given to Dr. Jean-Pierre von Wartburg in 1968 for his excellence in genetics and biochemistry research.
What exactly is a “Bunky”? Bunky was E. M. Jellinek’s nickname. The true origin of the name is unknown and somewhat of a mystery (Ward, 2014). As detailed in a letter to Mark Keller, the first Bunky was created in plaster and painted to resemble bronze in order to be ready for the awards presentation. In 1968, the bronze casting cost $165 and was paid for by the Christopher P. Smithers Foundation. All subsequent Bunkys would be provided by the Jellinek Memorial Fund (Eggers to Keller, 1968). According to a 1972 speech given by Keller, the Bunky was originally created by Marjorie Reed / Marjorie Post and is a casting of the head of E. M. Jellinek. Interestingly, the artist receives no further mention in any Jellinek-related archival material held by CAS Library. Additionally, an online search turned up no information about a sculptor named Marjorie Reed, Marjorie Post or Marjorie Reed Post. The sculptor, like many other associations with Jellinek, remains a mystery.
Mark Keller receives the Bunky
In 1977 Mark Keller was the recipient of the E. M. Jellinek Memorial Award and received his very own Bunky for his work documenting alcohol science. The great admiration and friendship between Mark Keller and E. M. Jellinek was evident from letters, speeches, articles, and interviews. The working relationship between Keller and Jellinek began in the late 1930s when the Research Council on Problems of Alcohol received a Carnegie grant to review the literature on the effects of alcohol on the individual. Jellinek was appointed executive director of the project, while Keller was unofficially appointed as Jellinek’s overseer, especially when it came to the budget. Keller describes in a letter to Jellinek’s ex-wife, “…I was to try to keep Jellinek on an even keel” (Keller to Anderson, 1963). Jellinek and Keller would continue their working relationship at the Center of Alcohol Studies at Yale University. Even after Jellinek’s departure from YCAS, he and Keller would continue collaborating during a productive 25-year partnership. More than a working relationship, the two developed a close friendship.
Reading through letters, speeches, and interviews in the CAS archive, the respect and admiration Keller felt for Jellinek is palpable. Keller describes Jellinek as having “boundless imagination and vision” (Blume, 1980) and calls him “a universal scholar” (Keller, 1970). It seems appropriate that Mark Keller was given the Bunky, an award he helped create, for his own contributions to the alcohol field.
The Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Library is fortunate to have a large collection of materials inherited from Mark Keller. Including photographs, letters, memos, meeting minutes and speeches (including drafts), these materials are an invaluable resource for learning about the history of the E. M. Jellinek Foundation and provide a snippet of the history of Jellinek. Mark Keller’s Bunky head now resides in the Center of Alcohol Studies Library.
The Jellinek Memorial Award today
The E. M. Jellinek Memorial Fund continues to award Bunkys. Interest garnered from a capital fund is used to provide an award to “a scientist who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the alcohol/alcoholism field” (Jellinek Memorial Foundation). The Memorial Fund’s Board of Directors designates a specific area of research for the award and appoints an expert selection committee to determine a winner. Past winners have been chosen from all over the world. Awardees are still given a bust of E. M. Jellinek in addition to $5000 CDN.
Past recipients of the award include Kettil Bruun, Robert Popham, Harold Kalant, Bill W, Nancy K. Mello, Jack H. Mendelson, J. Griffith Edwards, R. Brinkley Smithers, Robin Room, H. David Archibald, G. Alan Marlatt, Jorge Mardones, Max Glatt, Kaye Middleton Fillmore, Thomas F. Babor, and Marc A. Schuckit.
For more information on the current E. M. Jellinek Award and a full list of past winners visit: http://www.jellinekaward.org/
- Blume, S. (1980). Interview with Mark Keller. Tapes 1-2 . Center of Alcohol Studies Archives (in process), Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway.
- Eggers, A. (1968 August 28). [Letter to Mark Keller]. Keller Files. Center of Alcohol Studies Archives (in process), Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway.
- The E. M. Jellinek Memorial Fund, Inc. (1964 June 2). Minutes of the First Meeting of the Board of Directors.
- Jellinek Memorial Awards. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.jellinekaward.org/.
- Keller, M. (1972). Bill Wilson Bunky Award. Speech presented at the Jellinek Memorial Award, Keller Files. Center of Alcohol Studies Archives (in process), Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway.
- Keller, M. (1963 December 6). [Letter to Thelma Anderson]. Keller Files. Center of Alcohol Studies Archives (in process), Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway.
- Keller, M. (1970). Tributes to E. M. Jellinek. In: Popham, R. E. (Ed.) Alcohol and Alcoholism (p. ixxvi). Toronto. University of Toronto Press.
- Ward, J. H. (2014). E.M. Jellinek: The Hungarian connection. Substance Abuse Library and Information Studies, 1, 42-54.
Written by CAS Librarian Molly Stewart. Published in the Jellinek Special Anniversary issue of the CAS Information Services Newsletter in 2015.