Pearl Kendrick

Pearl Kendrick

Pearl Kendrick
Born Pearl Louella
August 24, 1890
Wheaton, Illinois
Died October 8, 1980(1980-10-08) (aged 90)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Fields Bacteriology
Alma mater Syracuse University
Johns Hopkins University

Pearl Louella Kendrick (August 24, 1890 – October 8, 1980) was an American bacteriologist. Kendrick is known for co-developing the first vaccine for whooping cough. She also contributed to the promotion of international vaccine standards.[1]

Early life and education

Pearl Louella was born on August 24, 1890 in Wheaton, Illinois, US. Her father was a preacher. She graduated from high school in 1908 and attended Greenville College for a year before transferring to Syracuse University. In 1914, she received her B.S. from Syracuse.[2] Kendrick graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1934.[1]


After graduation, Kendrick was inspired to research whooping cough (pertussis) based on the statistical data of the time: the disease killed an average of 6,000 people in the United States, with the majority (95%) being children. She moved back to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and worked at the Western Michigan Branch Laboratory of the Michigan Department of Health. It was there that she met Grace Eldering. Eldering was located in Lansing and worked at the State Department of Health.[1]

Kendrick and Eldering headed the vaccine project through program development, testing, and the eventual inoculation of children with the pertussis vaccine.[3][4] The vaccine was a success. Michigan started distributing the vaccines in 1940 and deaths from whooping cough declined.[1][5]

When the pertussis vaccine was in the primary phase of development, the American-made vaccine was very effective, while the locally-made vaccine in England seemed to have no protection effect. At that time Kendrick, along with others, was invited to be a member of Whooping Cough Immunization Committee of the Medical Research Council of Great Britain to help them with vaccine development method.

Later life and death

In 1951, Kendrick retired from the Michigan Department of Public Health. After retiring, she became a faculty member at the University of Michigan's Department of Epidemiology. She retired, from the University, in 1960. Kendrick served as president of the Michigan American Society for Microbiology. She died on October 8, 1980, in Grand Rapids.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Pearl Kendrick". Michigan Women's Historical Center & Hall of Fame. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Mason, Karen M. "Finding Aid for Pearl L. Kendrick Papers, 1888-1979". University of Michigan: Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Shapiro-Shapin, Carolyn G. (August 2010). "Pearl Kendrick, Grace Eldering, and the Pertussis Vaccine". Emerging Infectious Diseases 16 (8): 1273–1278.  
  4. ^ Progress Report on Pertussis Immunization
  5. ^ Pediatric Research - Childhood Vaccine Development: An Overview


  • O'Hern, Elizabeth Moot (1985). Profiles of Pioneer Women Scientists. Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books.