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Oswald T. Avery Collection 1912-2005
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Collection Scope and Content Note


The collection consist of materials collected by Avery colleague Joshua Lederberg that represent the work of Oswald T. Avery. The collection comprises 2.6 linear feet of material including reprints, books, laboratory notes, correspondence, speeches, institutional reports, photographs, and audio cassettes. A significant number of items are photocopies acquired from the Rockefeller Archive Center and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The collection is arranged chronologically. Material dated later than 1954 reflects articles, correspondence and commentary related to Avery but not generated by him. There are also various antidotal comments made by Lederberg in the 1990s and recently add material from 2005.

The collection is divided into four series centered on two themes: documents related to the discovery of the transforming principle and documents related to the discovery's reception by the scientific community. Obituaries which summarize Avery's life and work can be found in Series 1: Personal and Biographical, 1931-2000.

Series 2: Research and Discovery of the Transforming Principle, 1912-1999, is divided into three subseries: Preliminary Research, Excerpts from the Rockefeller Institute Reports, and Succeeding Research. Materials of particular interest are original lab notebook pages which document experiments in Avery's laboratory and a letter written in 1943 from Avery to his brother addressing Avery's thoughts about the discovery of the transforming principle. Also included is a copy of The Journal of Experimental Medicine's 35th anniversary reprint of Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod, and Maclyn McCarty's article, "Studies on the Chemical Nature of the Substance Inducing Transformation of Pneumococcal Types," which was originally published in 1944.

Series 3: Commentary on Avery and His Work, 1944-2005, is divided into five subseries: Chronological, Inquiries on Avery, Lectures, Publications, and Audiovisuals and contains articles, manuscript material, and transcripts of audio recordings documenting how Avery's discovery was received and understood by the biomedical community. In Series 4: Photographs, 1923-1950, there are staff group photographs from the Rockefeller Institute Hospital and several candid snapshots of Avery.

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