Benedict, Francis Gano, 1870-1957. Papers, 1870s-1957: A Finding Aid.
Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: MC 062
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Creator: Benedict, Francis Gano, 1870-1957.
Title: Francis Gano Benedict papers, 1870s-1957.
Quantity: 5.5 cubic feet (5 record cartons, 1 half document box, and 1 oversize flat box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Francis Gano Benedict Papers, 1870-1957, document Benedict's research and professional
activities as a chemist and nutrition researcher at the Boston Nutrition Laboratory.
The Francis Gano Benedict Papers were purchased from his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Hanggi, by the Harvard Medical Library in 1961.
Processed by: Shawn Waldron, September 2002.
Processing Note: When surveyed in 2002, the collection was arranged in alphabetical
order and broken into sections describing his education, professional career, personal
items, and photographs. The collection was organized into three series. Items in folders
were not rearranged. This collection was formerly numbered GA 07.
Access requires advance notice. Consult the Public Services Librarian for further
Seven volumes from Series II, Reports of Visits to Foreign Laboratories, Boston Nutrition
Laboratory Records, 1904-1954, have been digitized and are available via Harvard University
Library's Page Delivery System (PDS). To provide context, links to volumes are also
provided in the container list for boxes in which they physically reside.
Volume 1. nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:3746724
Volume 2. nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:3746725
Volume 3. nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:3746874
Volume 4. nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:3746875
Volume 5. nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:3788633
Volume 6. nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:3967384
Volume 7. nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:3996685
The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all the materials in the collections.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed
to the Public Services Librarian. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from
the Public Services Librarian are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons
or organizations that hold copyright. Reference Services and Access Information.
Francis Gano Benedict papers, 1870s-1957. MC 062. Harvard Medical Library, Francis
A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.
Francis Gano Benedict (FGB), Director of the Boston Nutrition Laboratory from 1907
to 1938, specialized in chemistry, nutrition, and the study of metabolism in humans
and animals. He was born 3 October 1870 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Washington
Gano and Harriet Emily (Barrett) Benedict. In 1877 the family moved to Orange Park,
Florida; four years later, they settled in Boston, Massachusetts.
FGB studied chemistry with Josiah Parsons Cooke at Harvard College, and received the
AB and AM from Harvard in 1893 and 1894, respectively. As a student at Harvard, FGB's
published studies focused on chemical subjects such as Double Haloids of Potassium and Antimony (1894). FGB completed his PhD studies, magna cum laude, at Heidelberg University in
Germany in 1895. FGB was appointed research assistant to Professor Wilbur O. Atwater
at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he was later appointed Professor
in 1905. Atwater, a chemical physiologist, encouraged FGB to study physiology and
nutrition; the two collaborated on several nutritional studies and published Experiments on Digestion of Food by Man in 1897. FGB's studies in metabolism, published in Chemical Researches, 1894-1900 (1901), were the results of his early research in nutrition. From 1895 to 1907 FGB
was a physiological chemist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and from 1896 to
1900 he served as chemist at the Storrs Experiment Station in Connecticut. FGB met
and married Cornelia Golay of Brewer, Maine in 1897. Mrs. Benedict was trained in
biology and zoology, and she co-authored many of FGB's published studies in physiology
in later years.
While at Wesleyan, FGB built a number of calorimeters, including the closed circuit
respiration apparatus and calorimeter. As a result of his work, FGB was selected by
the Carnegie Institution of Washington as the first director of the Boston Nutrition
Laboratory (BNL) in 1907, where he continued to construct calorimeters, including
the Benedict Apparatus which measured basal metabolism. He used this device in studies
of heat production and regulation in humans and animals. FGB was also involved in
the development of metabolism studies based on age, sex, height, and weight, and collaborated
with Elliott Joslin on an intensive study of respiratory metabolism in diabetes. Other
research included examining the effects of nutrition, food intake, exercise, and sleep
on the metabolism of humans and animals. Many of these studies are found in Vital Energetics: A Study in Comparative Basal Metabolism (1938). During the winter of 1906-1907, FGB traveled to Europe to observe the methods,
techniques, and equipment used in leading scientific laboratories, and formed ties
with many physiologists and research scientists in Europe. FGB retired from the BNL
and all other professional activities in November 1937.
After retirement, FGB turned to his lifelong interest of magic and became active on
the college lecture circuit. He was a member of the Society of American Magicians
and performed professionally from 1938-1942. The Benedicts' summer house in Machiasport,
Maine became their fulltime residence after FGB's retirement although winters were
spent in warmer climates. He died in Machiasport, Maine there on 14 April 1957.
There are 126 photographs, cyanotypes, yanotypes, and tintypes; these images are housed
in box 4. Five photographs were physically removed from the collection; they are accessed
by call numbers S030.01, S030.02, S030.32, and M016.01.
The Francis Gano Benedict Papers, 1870-1957, are the result of Benedict's administrative,
research, and professional activities as a chemist and nutrition researcher at the
Boston Nutrition Laboratory. The collection contains records from FGB's career from
his PhD studies at Heidelberg to his administrative and professional activities as
Director of the Boston Nutrition Laboratory. The bulk of the records spans from 1895
to 1957. Includes research notebooks and photographs from FGB's doctoral work in chemical
composition at Heidelberg; FGB's autobiography; newspaper articles about his development
of the calorimeter; location studies, records, and correspondence from the Carnegie
Institute's selection of Boston as the site of their nutrition laboratory; correspondence,
notes, lectures, newspaper clippings, travel journals, scrapbooks, and photographs
from FGB's research and administrative activities as Director of the Boston Nutrition
Laboratory; and bound reports and photographs from FGB's travels to Europe to lecture
and to observe European physiologists and research scientists.
- Series: I. Personal Papers, 1870s-1957
Scope and Contents: Series I contains personal correspondence, professional appointments, scrapbooks,
and photographs from FGB's personal and professional activities.
- A. Biographical Papers, 1892-1957
Scope and Contents: Subseries A contains diaries, notes, scrapbooks and writings from FGB's personal activities.
Includes FGB's autobiography and notes from Heidelberg and newspaper clippings from
a local scandal in April 1912 when the BNL released a fasting subject without proper
medical care. Also contains scrapbooks and newspaper clippings collected by FGB about
magic and his performances as a magician after his retirement from the BNL; his show
was called Science and the Art of Deception. Also includes diaries from his retirement activities and time spent in Maine.
Arrangement: Alphabetically arranged by topic. Oversized items in Subseries A are housed in box
- Box 1, Folder 1, Appointment certificates and letters, 1891-1907
- Box 1, Folder 2, Art and Architecture, 1927-1940
- Box 1, Folder 3, Autobiographical material, 1909-1936
- Box 1, Folder 4, Automobile accident,1940
- Box 1, Folder 5, Benedict, Cornelia, list of publications, 1918-1928, n.d.
Date: 1918-1928, n.d.
- Oversized-box 5, Birthday celebration (60th), festschrift, 1930
- Box 1, Folder 6-12, Birthday celebration (60th), thank-you letters, Abbott-Zuntz, 1930
- Box 1, Folder 13, Birthday celebration (60th), transcript of speeches, 1930
- Box 1, Folder 14, Birthday celebration (60th), speech transcripts, loose items, 1930
- Box 1, Folder 15-16, Condolences, personal, 1957
- Box 1, Folder 17, Condolences, professional, 1957
- Box 1, Folder 18-19, Diaries, 1938-1947
- Box 1, Folder 20, Harvard University, notes, 1890-1894
- Box 1, Folder 21-24, Heidelberg notebook, Allgemeine Chemie I-IV, 1895
- Box 1, Folder 25-26, Heidelberg notebook, Allgemeine Mineralogie I-II, 1895
- Box 1, Folder 27-28, Heidelberg notebook, Benzol Derivate I-II, 1895
- Box 2, Folder 1, Heidelberg notebook, Chemie. Der Theerabrstoff, 1895
- Box 2, Folder 2-4, Heidelberg notebook, Organische Chemie I-II, 1895
- Box 2, Folder 5, Heidelberg notebook, Lab Notes, 1895
- Box 2, Folder 6, Machias, Maine, 1909-1939
- Box 2, Folder 7, Machias, Maine Garden Club, 1933-1934
- Box 2, Folder 8, Magic lectures, arrangements, 1938-1942
- Box 2, Folder 9, Magic show, audience guestbook, 1937
- Box 2, Folder 10, Medal, National Institute of Social Sciences, Dignus Honore, 1918
- Box 2, Folder 10, Medal, New England Deaconess Hospital, 1930
- Box 2, Folder 10, Medal, University of Hamburg, Ordo Medicorum, 1932
- Oversized-box 5, Folder 1, Newspaper and journal clippings, 1902-1950
- Box 2, Folder 11, Obituaries, 1957
- Box 2, Folder 12-15, Scrapbook with newspaper clippings, c. 1908-1937
- Box 2, Folder 16, Thursday Evening Club, 1919-1936
- Box 2, Folder 17, Travel journal, 1910
- B. Personal and Family Photographs, 1870s-1950
Scope and Contents: Subseries B contains photographs of FGB's family and his non-professional activities
as a student and magician.
Arrangement: Arranged in chronological order by date. Photographs in Subseries B are housed in
box 4. Five photographs were physically removed from the rest of the collection and
are accessed by call numbers S030.01-S030.03, S030.32, and M016.01-M016.02.
- Box 4, FGB and siblings, childhood, 1870s-1909, n.d., 18 photographs
- Box 4, FGB, 1880s-1950s, n.d., 13 photographs
- Box 4, FGB and family, 1885-1889, n.d. 11 photographs (1 photographic prints)
- Box 4, FGB with friends, 1889, 2 photographs
- Box 4, FGB, Harvard, 1889-1890s, n.d., 4 cyanotypes
- Box 4, FGB with Cornelia Golay Benedict et al., 1892-1950, n.d., 15 photographs 1 yanotype
- Box 4, FGB, Heidelberg, Germany, 1890s, 5 photographs
- Box 4, FGB, Magic Shows, n.d., 9 photographs
- Series: II. Boston Nutrition Laboratory Records, 1904-1954
Scope and Contents: Series II includes correspondence, research notes, lecture notes, studies, and unpublished
writings on FGB's research conducted at the Boston Nutrition Laboratory. In 1905 and
1906 FGB helped the Carnegie Institution identify Boston as the future site for the
Nutrition Laboratory he had been chosen to direct; records pertaining to this location
study and correspondence between FGB and Walter B. Cannon can be found in Series III.
This series also includes grant proposals and applications from FGB's research activities
funded by the Carnegie Institute at Wesleyan University and later at the BNL; and
his metabolism studies conducted on animals of all sizes, including lecture notes
and unpublished manuscripts from his work on elephant metabolism.
Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically by folder. Photographs listed in Series II are housed in box
4. Non-print items are housed in box 5. Oversized items are housed in boxes 6 and
- Box 2, Folder 18, Carnegie Institute publications pamphlet, and reviews of FGB texts, 1939
- Box 2, Folder 19-20, Elephants, notes and writings re: 1933-1938
- Box 5, FGB working in BNL, n.d., videotape, 16mm reel film
- Box 2, Folder 21, Grant proposals and applications, 1904-1906
- Box 2, Folder 22, Lectures for the public, announcements and invitations, 1906-1943
- Oversized-box 5, Folder 2, Lectures for the public, announcements, 1938-1942
- Box 2, Folder 23-25, Lectures for the public, notes, 1906-1943, n.d.
- Box 2, Folder 26, Location studies and reports, 1906
- Box 3, Folder 1-3, Retirement announcement letters, 1937-1938
- Box 6, Box 7, Reports of Visits to Foreign Laboratories, seven volumes, 1907-1933
- Box 3, Folder 4, Staff, correspondence and notes, 1926-1954
- Box 3, Folder 5, Travel arrangements, 1932
- Box 4, Travels in Europe, Geneva, 1907, 7 photographs
- Box 4, Travels in Europe, Paris, 1907, 4 photographs
- Box 4, Travels in Europe, Berlin, 1907, 2 photographs
- Box 3, Folder 6, Writings, food needs in humans, c. 1927
- Box 3, Folder 7, Writings, McBride lecture, 1927
- Box 3, Folder 8, Writings, food and Eskimo studies, 1908-1930
- Box 3, Folder 9, Writings, metabolism and elephants, 1908-1930
- Series: III. Personal and Professional Correspondence, 1894-1954
Scope and Contents: Series III includes FGB's colleague correspondence regarding his collaborative research
activities. Includes correspondence between FGB and foreign colleagues on the evolving
political and social conditions in Europe before World War II; correspondence with
Bernard Ernst, the president of the Society of American Magicians; and other personal
Arrangement: Interfiled alphabetically by correspondence or subject.
- Box 3, Folder 10, Animal research, 1935-1943
- Box 3, Folder 11, Best, H.H., 1940
- Box 3, Folder 12, Billings, J.S., 1906-1910
- Box 3, Folder 13, Bogert, Marston Taylor, 1933-1936
- Box 3, Folder 14, Bruhn, John M., 1933-1934
- Box 3, Folder 15, Bunker, F.F., 1932-1937
- Box 3, Folder 16, Bush, Vannevar, 1934
- Box 3, Folder 17, Cannon, Walter B., 1905-1907
- Box 3, Folder 18, Cheney, Ralph, 1945-1952
- Box 3, Folder 19, Circus handlers, 1937-1947
- Box 3, Folder 20, Cooke, Josiah, 1894
- Box 3, Folder 21, Crile, George, 1930-1941
- Box 3, Folder 22, Cushing, Harvey, 1933-1940
- Box 3, Folder 23, Day, William, 1935
- Box 3, Folder 24, Du Bois, Eugene, F., 1932-1950
- Box 3, Folder 25, Durig, A., 1935
- Box 3, Folder 26-34, Ernst, Bernard, 1931-1938
- Box 3, Folder 35-46, Foreign Colleagues, 1896-1949, n.d.
- Box 3, Folder 47-50, General, 1901-1955
- Box 3, Folder 51, Gilbert, Albert F., 1909
- Box 3, Folder 52, Gilbert, Walter M., 1931-1932
- Box 3, Folder 53, Harvard Medical School, 1906-1954
- Box 3, Folder 54, Irwin, Charles D., 1931-1932
- Box 3, Folder 55, Jewish Question, 1935-1936
- Box 3, Folder 56, Joslin, Elliott, 1930-1956
- Box 3, Folder 57, Keen, W.W., 1928-1932
- Box 3, Folder 58, Kellogg, John Harvey, 1932-1941
- Box 3, Folder 59, Loveland, John E., 1931-1936
- Box 3, Folder 60, Lusk, Graham, 1931-1937
- Box 3, Folder 61, Machias, Maine, 1915-1947
- Box 3, Folder 62, Magic, 1929-1950
- Box 3, Folder 63, Marsh, Daniel, L., 1934-1937
- Box 3, Folder 64, Mendel, Lafayette B., 1934-1935
- Box 3, Folder 65, Merriam, John Collins, 1934
- Box 3, Folder 66, Newspaper editors, 1912-1949
- Box 3, Folder 67, Parmenter, Hazelene, 1931-1934
- Box 3, Folder 68, Pavlov, Ivan P., 1910
- Box 3, Folder 69, Peabody, Francis, 1921-1935
- Box 3, Folder 70, Pew, Alice, 1931-1935
- Box 3, Folder 71, Pratt, Joseph, 1931-1932
- Box 3, Folder 72, Prince, Walter F., 1933-1934
- Box 3, Folder 73, Pritchett, Henry, 1907
- Box 3, Folder 74, Rampino, Bertha, 1936-1952
- Box 3, Folder 75, Ravenel, Mazyck P., 1908
- Box 3, Folder 76, Rhine, J.B., 1940-1943
- Box 3, Folder 77, Rubiner, Max, 1915-1928
- Box 3, Folder 78, Sherman, Henry C., 1914-1915
- Box 3, Folder 79, Simkhovitch, Vladimir, 1933-1936
- Box 3, Folder 80, Smith, Peterson, 1940-1941
- Box 3, Folder 81, Streeter, George L., 1936-1937
- Box 3, Folder 82, Turner, Abby H., 1931-1938
- Box 3, Folder 83, Underwood, Mrs. William Lyman, 1932-1938
- Box 3, Folder 84, Waite, John H., 1941-1950
- Box 3, Folder 85, Wesleyan University colleagues, 1905-1915
- Box 3, Folder 86, Woodward, Robert S., 1918-1931
- Box 3, Folder 87, Wyman, Leland C., 1931
Benedict, Francis Gano, 1870-1957.
Boston Nutrition Laboratory.
Carnegie Institution of Washington. Nutrition Laboratory.
Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn.)