Guide to the David Vetter Collection
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.1133
Creators:
Vetter, David, 1971-1984
Vetter, David J., Jr.
Vetter, Carol Ann
Texas Children's Hospital
Science, Medicine and Society, Division of (NMAH, SI).
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Dates:
1971-1986
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
4.6 Cubic feet
9 boxes
Repository:
Papers document David Vetter, a Texas boy with a rare disease known as Severe Combined Immune Deficiency. His life in a special isolation unit received widespread publicity.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Papers relating to David Vetter, a Texas boy with a rare disease known as Severe Combined Immune Deficiency. The papers document his and his family's efforts to maintain normalcy in his life in spite of the limitations imposed by his disease, and medical efforts to reduce or cope with the limitations. A special suit was designed for David by NASA scientists to give him mobility, and the papers include documentation of the development and implementation of the suit.
The collection includes letters, greeting cards, photographs, medical records and internal hospital memoranda and documents from the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, procedure manuals for the isolation unit, specifications for the space suit, David's school records and school art projects, receipts and other financial papers, trade literature for products used in creating the sterile isolation unit, medical journals, newspaper and magazine articles, and clippings. The collection also includes a project created by high school students in 1985 about David's life and legislation to honor David with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into seven series.
Series 1: Correspondence and Press, 1971-1985
Series 2: Mobile Biological Isolation System (MBIS), 1973-1983
Series 3: Medical Publications, 1972-1983
Series 4: Personal Papers, 1978-1983
Series 5: Nimitz High School Project, 1985
Series 6: Texas Children's Hospital Medical Records, 1965-1989
Series 7: Photographs, 1974-1983

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
David Vetter (1971-1984) was a Texas boy who was born with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, a disease which required him to live in a sterile, plastic isolation unit. NASA scientists designed and created a special suit for David, which resembled astronauts' space suits. His parents, family, church, doctors, and community all made efforts to enable him to have a normal childhood and life. At age 12, he underwent experimental bone marrow surgery, which was not successful, and David died a few months later. The bone marrow donor, David's sister Katherine, carried a dormant strand of the Epstein-Barr virus which was not detected by the pre-operation screens. He was removed from the bubble in February of 1984 and died 15 days later.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Eric Ross, intern and Andrea Bishop, intern, 2018.
Author
Eric Ross and Andrea Bishop
Immediate Source of Acquisiton
The collection was donated by David Vetter's parents, David and Carol Ann Vetter in 1986.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research. Some health-related materials in Series 3: Medical Publications, Series 6: Texas Children's Hospital Medical Records, and Series 7: Photographs are restricted until 2034.
Preferred Citation
David Vetter Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Shriners Hospital Patient Isolation Unit Records, NMAH.AC.1142
Materials in the Division of Medicine and Science, National Museum of American History
Related objects include action figure toys, a t-shirt, and a space suit. See accessioons: 1986.0201 and 1986.0450.

Custodial History
Custodial History
Transferred to the Archives Center from the Division of Science, Medicine and Society in 2007.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Photographs -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Financial records -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Immunological deficiency syndromes Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reprints Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Periodicals Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reports -- 1950-1980 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Specifications Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
School records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Student drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Legislative documents Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Space suits Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Articles -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hospitals Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Severe combined immunodeficiency Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Immune diseases Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Isolation (Hospital care) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Trade literature Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuals Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Greeting cards -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vetter, David J., Jr. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Vetter, Carol Ann Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Science, Medicine and Society, Division of (NMAH, SI). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives