Arlene Butterly (1905-1995)

Arlene Butterly came to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1954 in the Office of Research Information. She became the information officer for the Division of Biologics Standards (DBS) in 1956. Her degree and background were in journalism and editorial work, including working for Science Magazine and in the editorial department at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Butterly was a part of the committee that planned the luncheon for the King and Queen of Thailand when they visited the Washington, D.C. area in 1960 and took part in the Dedication Ceremony of Building 29 on June 30, 1960.

She worked in Building 29, Room 124 from 1961–1963, then in Room 132 until 1967, when she moved to Room 400. According to NIH telephone directories, by 1969, she was in Building 29, Room 323 and worked there until 1972. She stayed on after the transition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through 1974, working as the head of the Information Office in Building 29, Room 115.

The information officer's job at NIH included interpreting the findings of scientific investigators, decoding pronouncements of doctors, answering questions from journalists and newscasters, and often providing written reports that then were used by broadcasters. Information officers like Butterly had to be diplomatic, knowledgeable, and tactful. Another duty of the information officer included serving as the staff correspondent for The NIH Record, a biweekly newspaper published for NIH employees.

Butterly was responsible for press releases from DBS and likely helped Dr. Roderick Murray with the heavily illustrated 1968 brochure, “The Division of Biologics Standards,” Public Health Service Publication No. 1744 (a hard copy of the brochure is archived at the NIH National Library of Medicine). Butterly likely recruited, organized, and edited the submissions from all corners of DBS for the 1968 publication. Butterly’s name and contact information were at the top of a crucial July 7, 1972 press release just after DBS had been transferred to the FDA. The press release outlined new DBS director Dr. Harry M. Meyer Jr.’s four immediate operational priorities for the biologics team.

Below are two additional documents related to Butterly: a DBS directory with her name at the top, likely from the 1960s, and a 1956 NIH brochure that she helped create.

Butterly worked in Building 29, Rooms 115, 124, 132, 323, and 400.

Headshot photograph of Arlene Butterly 

Arlene Butterly The NIH Record August 6, 1968

a scanned photo of a letter from 1960 preparing for the dedication ceremony luncheon for Building 29 with Arlene Butterly's name on it

Memo regarding the King and Queen of Thailand’s participation in the dedication ceremony for Building 29 that mentions Arlene Butterly. Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum