In Memoriam: T. Berry Brazelton, 1918-2018

By , March 19, 2018

T. Berry Brazelton

The Center was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton on Tuesday, March 13 at his home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Brazelton was perhaps best known as the developer of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), which uses visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli to assess the physical and neurological responses of newborns, as well as their emotional well-being and individual differences.

Born on May 10, 1918 in Waco, Texas, he received an A.B. from Princeton University in 1940 and an M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1943. In 1972, Brazelton established the Child Development Unit, a pediatric training and research center, at Children’s Hospital Boston. The Child Development Unit offered doctors the opportunity to conduct research on child development and train for clinical work with parents and children. While at the Child Development Unit, Brazelton developed the NBAS in 1973. Brazelton served as Director of the Child Development Unit from 1972 to 1989. At Harvard Medical School, Brazelton became Associate Professor of Pediatrics in 1972, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics in 1986, and Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus in 1988. In 1992, the T. Berry Brazelton Professor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital was established.

Brazelton with newborn

During the course of his career, Brazelton authored over thirty books, including Infants and Mothers: Individual Differences in Development (1969), What Every Baby Knows (1987), and Touchpoints: Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Development (1993). From 1984 to 1995, Brazelton hosted the television program “What Every Baby Knows,” for which he won an Emmy in 1994, and authored monthly columns in Redbook and Family Circle, as well as a weekly newspaper column. In 2012, Brazelton was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Barack Obama.

Obituaries for Dr. Brazelton can be found in the Boston Globe, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

OnView, the Center’s online digital collections site, contains a letter from Mister Rogers to Brazelton.

The Center holds the T. Berry Brazelton papers and the finding aid can be found here. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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