Re-Introducing Bunky at 125: E. M. Jellinek's Life and Contributions to Alcohol Studies

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2016 May;77(3):375-83. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2016.77.375.


Objective: Elvin Morton Jellinek (1890-1963) was one of the founders of modern addiction science. This overview is a brief survey of his life and achievements, intended to re-introduce alcohol scholars to his contributions (and possible failings) as well as stimulate interest and historical research in the field.

Method: The article draws largely from the archival collection of the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies (CAS) Library and the Jellinek memorial issue of the CAS Information Services Newsletter. Scholarly works and personal and institutional records by or about E. M. Jellinek were assembled and, when necessary, translated into English.

Results: Born in 1890 in New York and raised in Hungary, Jellinek studied at several European universities and worked for various institutions and organizations in Budapest (1914-1920), Sierra Leone, Honduras, and at the Worcester State Hospital, in Massachusetts. In 1941 he became an associate professor of applied physiology at Yale University, where he directed the Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies from 1941 to 1950. After more than a decade of work with the World Health Organization and several Canadian institutions, he taught and conducted research at the Institute for the Study of Human Problems at Stanford University until his death in 1963. Jellinek was a pioneer in research on the nature and causes of alcoholism and was an early proponent of the disease theory of alcoholism.

Conclusions: With the help of E. M. Jellinek, the modern era of addiction science was launched with an international outlook that included critical attention to the physical infrastructure and intellectual capital needed to form an interdisciplinary field of basic research, applied science, and clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / history*
  • Alcohols
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • New York


  • Alcohols

Personal name as subject

  • E M Jellinek