Emma Nuschi Plank’s multidisciplinary approach to child development helped doctors, teachers, psychologists, and social workers find a common language to work together. At sixteen, Plank began an apprenticeship at the Haus der Kinder, a Viennese Montessori school and attended seminars with Anna Freud while studying for accreditation. She became the school’s director in 1931. In 1938 she and her husband, Robert, fled Vienna for California, where she became principal of the Presidio Hill School. She returned to Vienna from 1948–1950, developing courses for local teachers and social workers through the American Friends Service Committee. On her return to America, she became an administrator at the Children’s House of University Hospital in Cleveland, the first preschool to use psychoanalysis to help children. In 1955 she helped found an interdisciplinary program to help children suffering long illnesses at the Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital. In 1962 she published the landmark Working with Children in Hospitals: A Guide for the Professional Team. The program and book helped establish the profession of Child Life Specialist, a position found in many hospitals throughout the US and abroad. Plank then helped found the Association for the Care of Children in Hospitals in 1965 and served as president from 1968–1970. She was doubly honored in 1970, first as a delegate to the White House Conference on Children and then as a gold medal recipient from the Montessori Centennial. She retired the following year.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Emma Nuschi Plank." (Viewed on June 19, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/plank-emma>.