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Leo Kanner was born Chaskel Leib Kanner in Klekotow, Austria. He graduated from the Sophien Gymnasium, Berlin in 1913. After military service, he attended the Staatsexamen and graduated in 1919. He received his M.D. from the University of Berlin in 1921. Kanner served as the volunteer assistant, Charite Hospital, University of Berlin from 1920-1924 before emigrating to the United States in 1924. As senior physician at the Yankton State Hospital in Yankton South Dakota, he published numerous journal articles including, “Folklore of Teeth”. In 1928, Kanner was invited by Adolf Meyer to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Psychiatry. He established the first child psychiatric clinic in the United States (1930) at the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children and published the specialty’s first textbook, Child Psychiatry, in 1935. By 1943 Kanner published a study of 11 children identified with early infantile autism which became known as Kanner Syndrome. He published more than 260 articles and chapters on the topics autism, psychology, psychiatry, education, history and folklore. Kanner also published many books among them, “In Defense of Mothers” in 1941. He was appointed associate professor of psychiatry in 1933, associate professor of pediatrics in 1947, professor of child psychiatry in 1957 and professor emeritus in 1959.

Scope and Content

The Leo Kanner Collection includes an autobiographical manuscript titled “‘The Auto’: Freedom is Within” copywritten in 1981, books, reprints, a bibliography and a June 1963 interview with Leo Kanner in Johns Hopkins Magazine. The books include, “Child Psychiatry” and “In Defense of Mothers” by Leo Kanner and “Infantile Autism” by Bernard Rimland with the forward written by Leo Kanner in November, 1963. Collection also includes a box of materials related to Kanner’s research on autism from the 1930s-1950s and pediatric psychiatric case notes from 1954-1957.

Related Archival material: Additional Leo Kanner oral interviews from 1974 and 1976 can be found in the Victor McKusick Collection. See the American Psychiatric Association, Melvin Sabshin Library and Archives, for more information on Leo Kanner’s unpublished papers.

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