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  • The March of Dimes was established by FDR to fight polio.
  • The mission focus was shifted to premature birth and birth defects.
  • Research breakthroughs have helped save thousands of babies.
    Franklin D. Roosevelt and Basil O'Connor count dimes at White House desk; 1944 Iron lung ward, Haynes Memorial Hospital; Boston, MA; 1955 Polio Pioneers, Salk polio vaccine field trial; 1954 Elvis Presley receives his polio inoculation to promote vaccination; 1956 Virginia Apgar, MD, creator of the Apgar Score; 1968 Beverly Sills, National Mothers March Chair; 1984 Isolette in newborn intensive care unit (NICU); 1990 Kelsey Adams, March of Dimes national ambassador, born healthy thanks to folic acid; 1999 March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign launch; January 30, 2003 March for Babies; 2009
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    March of Dimes Archives

    The March of Dimes Archives is the official repository of non-current records of the March of Dimes. The mission of the Archives is to identify, acquire, preserve, and provide access to records documenting the history of the March of Dimes. The records consist of published and unpublished information in a variety of media created, received, and maintained by the March of Dimes and its predecessor (The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis) in the conduct of business. Our collections include correspondence and other textual holdings, photography, film and videotape, electronic records, medical artifacts, posters, and memorabilia. The March of Dimes archivist oversees the proper organization and storage of its collections and provides both staff and the general public with information about its holdings.

    Our archival collections document the history and achievements of one of the most successful voluntary health organizations in history. Highlights include the letters of Franklin Roosevelt and Basil O’Connor (first president of the National Foundation); the medical program to eradicate polio and the Salk vaccine field trial of 1954; fund-raising events such as the Mothers March, Waldorf-Astoria fashion shows, and March for Babies; the National Foundation Expanded Program (1958) that launched birth defects prevention as a mission objective; the career of Virginia Apgar, creator of the Apgar Score for evaluating newborns; perinatal health initiatives, including Toward Improving the Outcome of Pregnancy, a plan for the regional development of maternal and perinatal health services. Our archival resources are used by March of Dimes staff at the national office and chapters and by researchers from all walks of life who study, publish, and produce films and exhibits on epidemic disease, the history of medicine and public health, vaccines and vaccination, entertainment and political celebrities, volunteers and volunteerism, American popular culture, women’s history, disability studies, and much more.

    March of Dimes archival collections include:

    • Salk and Sabin Polio Vaccine Records
    • Medical Program Records
    • Fund Raising Records
    • Film, Video, and Photography Collections
    • March of Dimes Publications
    • Chapter Organization and Activities Records
    • Salk Institute for Biological Studies Records
    • Basil O’Connor Papers
    • Virginia Apgar Papers

    Need assistance with historical questions? For information, please contact:

    David W. Rose, Archivist    

    March of Dimes  
    1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
    White Plains, NY 10605




    Frequently Asked Questions

    Who founded the March of Dimes?

    Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States.

    What was the original name of the March of Dimes?

    The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

    When did the March of Dimes change its mission to birth defects prevention?


    What is the March of Dimes mission today?

    To improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, infant mortality, and premature birth.

    Why did the March of Dimes change its mission to birth defects prevention?

    To "lead, direct, and unify" the fight against polio, a paralyzing viral disease.

    What March of Dimes publication led to regionalized neonatal intensive care?

    Toward Improving the Outcome of Pregnancy, published in 1976.

    What is the Apgar score?

    The Apgar score, created by Virginia Apgar, MD, is a simple test of five vital life-signs administered immediately after delivery.

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