Boas, Ernst P. (Ernst Philip), 1891-1955

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Ernst Boas was the son of anthropologist Franz Boas, and as a physician was noted for his work in cardiology. He was also very much involved with liberal social causes. Boas was an instructor in pathology and physiology, an expert in chronic diseases, and a developer of the cardiotachometer. He was prominent in the American Medical Association during the 1940s and 50s, actively promoted National Health Insurance, and was an organizer of the Physicians Forum.

From the description of Reprints of Ernst Boas articles, 1900-1951. (New York Academy of Medicine). WorldCat record id: 77756157

Ernst P. Boas, son of Franz Boas, was a physician in New York City who wrote on such topics as geriatrics and chronic illness and was an advocate for compulsory national health insurance. He was against euthanasia. He specialized in cardiology and developed the cardiotachometer with Ernst F. Goldschmidt.

From the description of Papers, 1907-1980. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122589453

Ernst Philip Boas was born on 4 February 1891 in Worcester, Massachusetts when his father, Franz Boas, held a docentship in anthropology at Clark University. Later, the family (including Ernst Boas's mother, Marie Krackowizer Boas; his three sisters, Helene, Gertrude, and Franziska; and his brother, Henry) moved to the New York City area.

Boas attended the Ethical Culture School through high school and then went on to receive his B.S. from Columbia University in 1910. He remained at Columbia to receive his M.A. in 1912 and then his M.D. in 1914, the latter from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he graduated first in his class.

After some trouble finding an internship, apparently because of anti-semitism, Boas became an intern at The Mount Sinai Hospital from 1914 to 1916. In 1917, he was appointed Instructor in Pathology at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University. On 6 August 1917, he was drafted into the Army as First Lieutenant in the Medical Section of the Officers' Reserve Corps and was later appointed Captain on 20 April 1918. While in the Army (including some duty in France), he served as a cardiovascular specialist.

When Boas was honorably discharged from the Army on 24 May 1919, he began his first private practice from an office in his home on West 96th Street in New York City. He practiced there until 1921 when he joined the staff of the Montefiore Hospital for Chronic Diseases as Medical Director. From 1920 to 1921, Boas was Instructor in Physiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. Later, from 1926 to 1951, he taught post-graduate courses in diseases of the heart at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

In 1929, Boas left the medical directorship of Montefiore Hospital but retained the position of Attending Physician there for one year, from 1929 to 1930. Also in 1929, Boas moved to The Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was Associate Physician until 1951, at which time he became a consultant to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Boas resumed his private practice in 1929 (he was certified as a cardiovascular disease specialist by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1941), opening an office at 41 West 83rd Street. He later established a permanent office at 1185 Park Avenue, where he entered into a partnership with Hyman Levy in 1949. One of Boas's sons, Norman F. Boas (also a physician), was his assistant from 1949 to 1951. Some of Boas's famous patients included William Laurence, science editor of The New York Times ; Charles C. Burlingham, New York lawyer and politician; Sidney Hillman, President of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America; Henry A. Wallace, while running for President of the United States; Karl Menninger, founder of the Menninger Clinic; and Dr. Felix Adler, founder of the Ethical Culture Society.

From 1937 to 1943, Boas was a Special Lecturer at Teacher's College of Columbia University in the education of the handicapped. From 1938 to 1951, he was Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Boas was a prolific writer of articles and books on scientific topics (such as cardiology), as well as on topics in the popular media, such as geriatrics and chronic illness. Many of his publications advocate compulsory national health insurance. He served as Associate Editor of Modern Hospital from 1923 to 1929. Some of his books include Treatment of the Patient Past Fifty, The Unseen Plague--Chronic Disease, and The Heart Rate . This latter book grew out of Boas's research with Ernst F. Goldschmidt in developing the cardiotachometer, an electronic device that measures the heart rate continuously over many hours. Other research included his discovery of the calcification of the pineal gland; studies of neurocirculatory asthenia in soldiers in World War I; studies of the physiology of capillaries; and studies on cholesterol and its role in the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis.

Boas also served as a medical consultant to numerous organizations and health care institutions, including Beth Israel Hospital of Passaic, New Jersey; the Group Health Cooperative, Inc.; the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind; the Sidney Hillman Health Center (where he directed a large research program on atherosclerosis); Irvington House; Lexington Hospital; Long Beach Hospital; Moosehaven; the New York Metal Trades Council and Hotel Association; and the Workmen's Circle.

Boas was involved with city, state, and federal organizations that dealt with health care. He was Chairman of the Committee on Chronic Illness of the Welfare Council of the City of New York. His work with this Committee encouraged the construction of the Municipal Hospital for Chronic Diseases (now called Goldwater Memorial Hospital) on Welfare Island, as well as the elimination of many of the almshouses there. He also served on the Advisory Council of the New York City Department of Health and on the General Advisory Committee for the Cardiac Program of the New York State Department of Health. He was a consultant to the Social Security Board of the United States Federal Security Agency. He also testified in compensation hearings to show that heart attacks may result from unusual effort or trauma.

Besides his purely medical work, Boas was deeply involved in social causes. He worked with such agencies as the China Aid Council, Inc.; the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Medical Scientists (serving as Secretary in 1945); the Committee of Physicians for the Improvement of Medical Care, Inc.; the National Committee for Resettlement of Foreign Physicians; the Physicians Committee of the National Refugee Service (serving as Chairman in 1943), and the United Service for New Americans, Inc. He founded The Physicians Forum, Inc., in 1939, to study and discuss health care issues, resist McCarthyism, and counter the American Medical Association's opposition to national health insurance. He also continued to work against discrimination of any form; for instance, he was instrumental in the appointment of African-American physicians and nurses to hospital staffs.

He was a member of the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the American Society for the Study of Arteriosclerosis (founding member), the Authors' Guild, the Child Study Association of America, the Committee for the Nation's Health, the Committee of Citizens Against the Feinberg Law (a law to eliminate subversives from the New York state public school system), the Harvey Society, the Medical Society of the County of New York, the National Medical Committee of the NAACP, the New York Academy of Medicine, the New York Heart Association, Inc. (founding member and Chairman), the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association (Chairman of the Heart Committee), and the United States Committee, Inc. (founding member), an organization created in support of the World Medical Association. He also belonged to the honorary societies of Alpha Omega Alpha, Phi Beta Kappa, and Pi Gamma Mu.

Boas died on 9 March 1955 in New York City of pancreatic cancer. He was survived by his wife, Helene Tuthill Sisson Boas, and his children, Donald P. Boas, Norman F. Boas, and Barbara G. Crutchley.

From the guide to the Ernst P. Boas Papers, ca. 1907-1955, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Boas, Ernst Phillip, 1891-1955. Papers, 1907-1980. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Boas Family Papers, 1862-1942 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Boas, Ernst Philip, Dr. 1891-1955. Reprints of Ernst Boas articles, 1900-1951. New York Academy of Medicine
referencedIn Boas, Franz, 1858-1942. Papers, ca. 1860s-1942. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Franz Boas Papers, 1862-1942 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Boas, Ernst Philip. The biochemistry of the female genitalia. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Edward U. Condon Papers, Circa 1920-1974 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Physicians Forum. Physicians Forum collection, 1939-1998. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Javitz, Romana. Romana Javitz papers, 1923-1980. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Krackowizer, Ernst, 1821-1875. Letters to Emilie Forster, 1848-1868. New York Academy of Medicine
referencedIn Weinerman, E. Richard (Edwin Richard), 1917-1970. Edwin Richard Weinerman papers, 1908-1970 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Romana Javitz papers, 1923-1980 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Ernst P. Boas Papers, ca. 1907-1955 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Franz Boas Professional Papers, Circa 1860-1942 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Condon, Edward Uhler, 1902-1974. Papers, ca. 1920-1974. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn United States Federal Bureau of Investigation files, 1939-1950, 1939-1950 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Boas, Franz, 1858-1942. Correspondence, 1862-1942. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Boas, Franz, 1858-1942. United States Federal Bureau of Investigation files, 1939-1950. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Edwin Richard Weinerman papers, 1908-1970 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Ernst P. Boas Papers National Museum of American History (U.S.). Archives Center
creatorOf Boas, Ernst Philip, Dr. 1891-1955. Reprints of Ernst Boas articles, 1900-1951. New York Academy of Medicine
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Heart Association. corporateBody
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associatedWith Auslander, Jacob. person
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associatedWith Barsky, Edward J. person
associatedWith Binger, Carl (Carl Alfred Lanning), 1889-1976. person
associatedWith Black, Algernon D. (Algernon David), 1900-1993. person
associatedWith Boas, Ernst Philip, Dr. 1891-1955. person
associatedWith Boas, Franz, 1858-1942. person
associatedWith Boas, Franziska. person
associatedWith Boas, Franziska, 1902-1988 person
associatedWith Boas, Norman F. person
associatedWith Boas, Norman F. person
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associatedWith Brand, Albert person
associatedWith Brand, Albert. person
associatedWith Butler, Allan J. person
associatedWith Butler, Allan M. person
associatedWith Cohn, Alfred E., (Alfred Einstein), 1879-1957 person
associatedWith Cohn, Alfred E. (Alfred Einstein), 1879-1964. person
associatedWith Columbia University. corporateBody
associatedWith Commission on Chronic Illness. corporateBody
associatedWith Committee of Physicians for the Improvement of Medical Care, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Condon, Edward Uhler, 1902-1974. person
associatedWith Council of Social Agencies. corporateBody
associatedWith Crampton, C. Ward (Charles Ward), 1877-1964. person
associatedWith Davis, Michael Marks, 1879-1971. person
associatedWith Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Medical Scientists. corporateBody
associatedWith Goldschmidt, Ernst Friedrich. person
associatedWith Javitz, Romana person
associatedWith Javitz, Romana. person
associatedWith Journal of Social Medicine. corporateBody
associatedWith Krackowizer, Ernst, 1821-1875. person
associatedWith Lippman, Richard W. person
associatedWith Loewi, Otto person
associatedWith Magnus-Levy, Adolf person
associatedWith Magnus-Levy, Adolf. person
associatedWith Medical Society of the County of New York. corporateBody
associatedWith Montefiore Hospital for Chronic Diseases. corporateBody
associatedWith Mount Sinai Hospital. corporateBody
associatedWith Muller, Hermann J. person
associatedWith Muller, H. J. (Hermann Joseph), 1890-1967. person
associatedWith National Committee for Resettlement of Foreign Physicians. corporateBody
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associatedWith New York Heart Association. corporateBody
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correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Roemer, Milton Irwin, 1916-2001. person
associatedWith Rukeyser, Muriel, 1913-1980. person
associatedWith Sidney Hillman Health Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Sigerist, Henry E. (Henry Ernest), 1891-1957. person
associatedWith Stern, Kurt G. person
associatedWith United HIAS Service. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation corporateBody
associatedWith Weinerman, E. Richard (Edwin Richard), 1917-1970. person
associatedWith Welfare Council of New York City. corporateBody
associatedWith Workmen's Circle (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Yampolsky, Helene. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
Chronic diseases
Health insurance
National health insurance


Birth 1891-02-04

Death 1955-03-09



Ark ID: w6wq067r

SNAC ID: 24573295