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H MS c323

Forbes, William H., 1902-1995. Papers, 1941-1978 (inclusive), 1948-1957 (bulk): Finding Aid.

Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

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Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: H MS c323
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Title: William H. Forbes Papers,
Date(s): 1941-1978 (inclusive),
Date(s): 1948-1957 (bulk).
Quantity: 1 collection (1.3 cubic feet (1 record carton and 1 legal document box).)
Abstract: The William H. Forbes Papers, 1941-1978 (inclusive), 1948-1957 (bulk), consist of correspondence, research records, conference transcripts, committee reports, and reprints and publications resulting from Forbes' personal and professional activities.

Processing Information:

Processed by Bryan Sutherland, June 2009.
Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access to the collection. To enhance preservation, processing staff re-housed the collection and, where necessary, photocopied documents onto acid-free paper. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine were discarded. Folder titles were transcribed from originals.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access requires advance notice. There are no restrictions on access to this collection. The collection is stored offsite. Researchers are advised to contact reference staff for more information concerning retrieval of material.

Conditions Governing Use:

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all the materials in the collection. 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.

Preferred Citation:

William H. Forbes Papers, 1941-1978 (inclusive), 1948-1957 (bulk). H MS c323. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

Related Collections at the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Biographical Note

William H. Forbes (1902-1995), Ph.D., 1931, Cambridge University, England; MD, 1952, Johns Hopkins University, was a researcher specializing in environmental physiology, including respiration and metabolism, and a Harvard School of Public Health educator. Between 1930 and 1947, Forbes worked for the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory, a laboratory of human physiology at the Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts.
William Hathaway Forbes was born in Milton, Massachusetts in 1902 and attended Milton Academy and Harvard College. Forbes joined the staff of the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory (the "Lab") in 1930 and in 1935 served as a member of the Lab's International High Altitude Expedition to Aucanquilcha in the Chilean Andes, an expedition staffed by David Bruce Dill (then the "unofficial" director of the Lab) and Ancel Keyes (the expedition leader). This expedition was undertaken to study blood chemistry, the effects of exercise on respiration and circulation, and mental impairments at high altitudes. Forbes was later appointed the Assistant, and then Acting, Director of the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory from 1940 to 1947, with responsibility for the Lab's research and financing. The Lab was contracted by the United States War Department to make recommendations on living conditions for military personnel operating in extreme hot and cold environments, including those related to clothing, nutrition, and survival gear. Despite efforts to relocate the Lab to the Harvard School of Public Health after the war, Forbes oversaw its disbanding in 1947.
After the Lab closed, Forbes moved to the Harvard School of Public Health, where he served as physiology lecturer, Assistant to the Dean, and faculty advisor to foreign students. From 1949 to 1951, Forbes worked for the Ludlow Jute Company in Calcutta, India, studying working conditions, and later served as scientific attaché to the United States Embassy in Paris. He was a visiting professor at the Pahlavi School of Medicine in Shiraz, Iran from 1967 to 1969.
Forbes was married to Anne Pappenheimer Forbes, a noted endocrinology researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. They had five children: Andrea, Elise, Beatrice, Peter, and Anthony. Forbes died in 1995 at age 92.

Resources on the History of The Harvard Fatigue Laboratory

Series and Subseries in the Collection

Scope and Content

The William H. Forbes Papers, 1941-1978 (inclusive), 1948-1957 (bulk), consist of correspondence, research records, conference transcripts, committee reports, and reprints and publications resulting from Forbes' personal and professional activities. The collection includes correspondence with family members, correspondence related to Forbes' involvement with the lumber and logging industry, and correspondence and research records produced by Forbes while at the Harvard School of Public Health. Records from Forbes' participation in professional organizations, including the Council on Foreign Relations' Group on Climate and Economic Development in the Tropics, are also contained in the collection. Additionally, the collection includes reprints and publications related to Forbes' research, as well as subject files on forestry compiled by Forbes.
The William H. Forbes Papers consist of five series: Series I. Personal Correspondence; Series II. Harvard School of Public Health Correspondence and Research Records; III. Professional Organizations Records; IV. Collected Reprints and Publications; and V. Forestry Subject Files. Oversized items are housed in box 2.

Container List


med00119