The Rockefeller Archive Center
“If we assist the highest forms of education – in whatever field – we secure the widest influence in enlarging the boundaries of human knowledge.”
—John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Rockefeller University Archives
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Descriptions of selected record groups:


The Board of Scientific Directors was responsible for overseeing all research at the Institute, including the hospital, until merged with the Board of Trustees in 1953.

RG 110. MINUTES OF THE SCIENTIFIC DIRECTORS, 1901-1953. 10 volumes.


The trustees control the property and funds of the University. In 1953 the Board of Scientific Directors was merged with the Board of Trustees.


Organized by subject, these records provide information on the day-to-day operations of the University.

RG 301. SIMON FLEXNER Papers, 1903-1945.

Simon Flexner (1863-1946), a physician, was a professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania before serving as first director of the Institute, 1903-1935. This collection includes miscellaneous administrative, scientific, and personal correspondence. A separate collection contains a microfilm copy (128 reels) of the Rockefeller Institute series of the Simon Flexner papers held at the American Philosophical Society.

RG 302. HERBERT S. GASSER Papers, 1933-1961.

Herbert Spencer Gasser (1888-1963), a neurophysiologist, was director of the Institute, 1935-1953. In 1944 he shared a Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for his work in nerve conduction. The papers are both scientific and administrative, and include laboratory notebooks and related items, addresses, and publications.

RG 303. DETLEV W. BRONK Papers, 1840-(1954-1975)-1978.

Detlev Wulf Bronk (1897-1975) was president during the transition from Institute to University, from 1954 to 1968. A leader in the study of human physiology in aeronautics, he was also a major figure in post-World War II scientific and governmental organizations. He served as director of the Johnson Research Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania (1929-1949), as vice-chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Aerospace (1948-1958), as chairman of the National Research Council (1946-1950), as president of the National Academy of Sciences (1950-1962), and as president of Johns Hopkins University (1949-1953). The collection includes significant documentation of every phase of Bronk's career, and major portions deal with research, professional and government activities, lectures and addresses, and personal and professional correspondence.

RG 304. FREDERICK SEITZ Papers, 1969-1977.

Frederick Seitz (1911-2008), a physicist, was president of the University, 1969-1977. Active in public service, Seitz was a civilian member of the National Defense Research Committee and a consultant to the secretary of war during World War II. He was also a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee, 1962-1969.

RG 341. THOMAS M. RIVERS Papers, 1917-1957.

Thomas Milton Rivers (1888-1962) joined the Institute in 1922 and specialized in virus research. From 1953 until his retirement in 1955 he was a vice-president of the Institute. The papers are largely scientific and administrative, and include documentation of Rivers' medical research in the Pacific theater during World War II.


Starting in 1901, the year the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was founded, and continuing until the Institute was reorganized in the mid-1950s, every laboratory, research group, and special program submitted annual reports of all research to the corporate body that oversaw the Institute's scientific activities. The requirement of writing an annual multi-page review forced scientists to articulate their scientific agendas and present their findings in a concise format quite different from those prepared for scientific papers and conferences. Together the scientific reports chronicle the whole saga of research at the Institute and provide a valuable snapshot of research during any particular year. From a chronological perspective, the reports also serve as a useful guide to the development of scientific investigations within each laboratory over a number of years. In addition, by listing all investigators working together on particular projects, they provide a quick guide to the network of research collaboration. Significantly, these reports document the investigations of a number of the early scientists whose papers have not been preserved in the Rockefeller University Archives or in other repositories. Subsequently bound into forty-two volumes, the Scientific Reports of the Laboratories are arranged chronologically. Some reports are accompanied by copies of correspondence, charts, and graphs. A register highlighting some of the special items in this record group is available at the Archive Center.


Material may be restricted at the discretion of the donor. Until September 1957, laboratory heads were designated Members of the Institute. The University archives contain significant material pertaining to many former Members and Professors. Most collections contain both scientific and administrative materials, and may include laboratory records, correspondence, publications, and documentation of government and professional service.

There are collections of papers larger than 1 cu. ft. for the following Members and Professors. For descriptions of selected collections (*), see Papers of Individuals - Rockefeller University Related

  • Ahrens, Edward H. Jr.
  • Avery, Oswald T. *
  • Bearn, Alexander G.
  • Beg, Mirza A. B.
  • Bergmann, Max *
  • Berlin, Theodore H.
  • Braun, Armin
  • Brink, Frank
  • Carrel, Alexis *
  • Chase, Merrill W.
  • Choppin, Purnell W.
  • Cohen, E. G. D.
  • Cohn, Alfred E. *
  • Connelly, Clarence
  • Cool, Rodney L.
  • Craig, Lyman C.
  • Diacumakos, Elaine G.
  • Dubos, Rene J. *
  • Edelman, Gerald
  • Ehrlich, Paul *
  • Field, Frank H.
  • Friedheim, Ernst
  • Goebel, Walther F.
  • Granick, Sam
  • Griffin, Donald R.
  • Hartline, H. Keffer
  • Holmes, Francis O. *
  • Hotchkiss, Rollin O.
  • Jacobs, Walter A.
  • Jesaitis, Margaris A.
  • Kac, Mark Kaiser, Emil T.
  • Kunitz, Moses
  • Kunkel, Henry G.
  • Kunkel, Louis O.
  • Lancefield, Rebecca C. *
  • Landsteiner, Karl *
  • Levene, Phoebus A.T. *
  • Levine, Philip
  • Lipmann, Fritz *
  • Loeb, Jacques *
  • Longsworth, Lewis G.
  • MacInnes, Duncan A.
  • Mauro, Alexander
  • McMaster, Philip D.
  • Merrifield, R. Bruce
  • Mirsky, Alfred E. *
  • Moore, Stanford *
  • Nelson, John B.
  • Noguchi, Hideyo *
  • Northrop, John H.
  • Olitsky, Peter K. *
  • Osterhout, Winthrop J.V.
  • Pais, Abraham
  • Palade, George E.
  • Pearce, Louise
  • Perlmann, Gertrude E. *
  • Pfaffman, Carl
  • Riordan, John F.
  • Rothen, Alexandre
  • Schreiber, Morris
  • Shedlovsky, Theodore
  • Stein, William H. *
  • Stoll, Norman R.
  • Tatum, Edward L. *
  • Trager, William
  • Uhlenbeck, George *
  • Van Slyke, Donald D.
  • Webster, Leslie T.
  • Weiss, Paul A. *
  • Wood, Henry N.
* See Papers of Individuals - Rockefeller University Related for detailed descriptions of selected individuals


The Institute's earliest leaders were convinced of the usefulness of animal research for understanding human disease and physiology and were active in opposing anti-vivisectionist legislation. The collection includes correspondence and publications, with a focus on anti-vivisection movements during 1908-1920, but continuing to 1957.

RG 600-2. WAR DEMONSTRATION HOSPITAL Records, 1916-1920.

During World War I, the Rockefeller Foundation funded a military hospital located on the Institute campus, headed by Alexis Carrel and staffed by Institute personnel. Research at the hospital focused on preventing the infection of wounds, and military physicians and nurses assigned to the hospital received training in medical techniques to be used at the front. The bulk of the records document hospital operations, but the collection also includes administrative correspondence.


Since its debut in 1959, The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics has been an invaluable aid to American physicians. This biweekly, four to six-page publication contains summary reviews of current topics of importance. Although this periodical is produced by an independent, nonprofit organization, its editors and advisors have primary appointments in other institutions. The Rockefeller University has been represented on the editorial board by faculty members Jules Hirsch and Martin A. Rizack.

The Medical Letter provides doctors with impartial evaluations of the strengths and dangers of drugs and therapeutic techniques. The recommendations are based on the existing literature and the input of leading experts and general consultants. The Medical Letter refuses to carry advertisements, and therefore can serve as a watchdog over the pharmaceutical industry through its critical, unbiased reporting.

Some topics have received regular attention in The Medical Letter. These include developments in the fields of contraception and antibiotics, and annual recommendations on influenza vaccination. Several issues contained results of laboratory tests of preparations of a particular drug by diverse manufacturers to examine the importance of prescribing "brand" name tablets versus "generic" ones. Appearing in the late 1960s were discussions about the legal and illegal uses of such substances as LSD and marijuana, and the treatment of patients who abuse them.

This collection contains the manuscripts, drafts, source material, and comments of consultants and manufacturers for almost all articles published, as well as for several unpublished submissions. These documents relate to over 250 issues of The Medical Letter, beginning with the 1958 "Pre-Publication" issue, and continuing into 1977.

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