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PLANK, EMMA NUSCHI

PLANK, EMMA NUSCHI (11 Nov. 1905- 13 Mar. 1990), was an educator, author, and associate professor of child-development at CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY. For Cleveland's City Hospital she created a "child life" program that became renowned internationally and served as the impetus for founding the Association for the Care of Children's Health. Emma Plank was born in Vienna, Austria where she studied under Maria Montessori and Anna Freud. In 1938 she immigrated to the United States and earned a Master's degree in child development from Mills College in San Francisco. She came to Cleveland in 1951 to direct the school of the Children's House (later Hanna Perkins School) of University Hospital. In 1955 Dr. Frederick C. Robbins asked Plank to come to the Department of Pediatrics of City Hospital (later MetroHealth Medical Center) to address the educational, social, and psychological needs of children receiving long-term care. Plank seized this opportunity to found the Child Life and Education Division of the Department of Pediatrics at City Hospital and directed it until 1972. She was a co-founder of the interdisciplinary Association for the Care of Children's Health in 1965. Her 1962 book, Working With Children in Hospitals, has been translated into several languages; it endures as both a philosophical guide and a practical manual for those providing health-care to children world-wide. Plank received an honorary degree from Wheelock College in Boston (1988) and many awards, including the Medal of the City of Vienna (1970), the Gold Medal from the Montessori Centennial (1970), and the Early Childhood Award from the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (1979).

Plank married psychiatric social worker Robert Plank in 1932; there were no children. The couple lived in CLEVELAND HEIGHTS. In 1983, after her husband died, Plank returned to Vienna.


Plank, Emma. Working with Children in Hospitals (1971, 1962).

Dittrick Museum of Medical History.