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 Leo Helmholz Junker  (1880 - 1972)

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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois      Known for: landscape-snowscene, etcher

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Ad Code: 4
Leo Helmholz Junker
An example of work by Leo Helmholz Junker
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted December 2004, is from Robert M. Jacobson, MD*. It is "some information regarding the artist and particularly how he was instrumental in the insignia of the largest pediatric organization on the planet, the American Academy of Pediatrics".

Up on East 9 in the Mayo Building, in the heart of our pediatric referral practice, is a replica of the brightly glazed, blue-and-white Della Robbia sculptured plaque of a swaddled infant. Its presence on the wall has a lot to do with own our history as a department as well as the history of American Pediatrics.

The AAP News published this week as part of its celebration of its coming sixty-fifth anniversary had an article entitled "Symbolic change: Academy's Della Robbia insignia reflects changes."

That article relates how the inspiration for the AAP insignia formed from the work of the sculptor Andrea Della Robbia who in the 15th century created ten plaques of swaddled infants that decorate the external walls of the "Ospedale degli Innocenti" or Foundling Hospital in Florence, Italy. The Foundling Hospital is the oldest known institution in the world devoted to the well-being of children since its inception.

The article relates how our Dr. Henry Frederic Helmholtz (1882-1958) as a member of the AAP Executive Board in 1932 played an important role in the use of the Della Robbia as a symbol of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Mayo brothers recruited Dr. Henry Helmholtz from Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago to head the new Section of Pediatrics established January 6, 1921. He was joined by Dr. Samuel Amberg of Children's Hospital in Chicago and Drs. Morley McNeal, Alexander Stewart, and H Olding Foucar.

Dr Henry Helmholz was an outstanding clinician and a fluent speaker. He became a leading figure in pediatrics, both in the United States and throughout the world. He was president of the American Pediatric Society in 1936-1937 and of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1938-1939. He became president of the International Pediatric Association in 1941 and reconvened the association after World War II.

At Mayo, Dr. Helmholz was instrumental in attracting his longtime friend Dr. C Anderson Aldrich to Mayo specifically to launch the Rochester Child Health Project which in turned launched the pediatric career of Dr. Benjamin Spock. Dr. Helmholz also began our pediatric training program and led the nation in accepting women in the pediatric training program during a time when few women entered medicine at all. Dr. Helmholz not only began with the creation of the Section of Pediatrics a community practice in preventive pediatrics. He also began the differentiation of the Section of Pediatrics into subspecialties. He encouraged each member of the section to develop a subspecialty interest.

As you can learn from the article in AAP News, Dr. Helmholz asked his cousin, Leo Helmholz Junker (1880-1972), who was an artist known for his landscapes, snowscenes, and etchings, to design a symbol for the AAP more in keeping with the Italian original and still have it suggest an American infant. Dr. Helmholz felt the previous AAP symbol, while based on the Della Robbia. was too scrawny and irregularly swaddled. Junker submitted his insignia based on one of the original plaques. It was adopted in 1941 and became official in 1955. It still is used today.

*Robert M Jacobson, MD, Chair, Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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