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Mason V. Hargett Papers 1932-1986 (bulk 1938-1946)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Photographs, diaries, research materials, slides and reports (1932-1986; 3.75 linear feet) document the official portion of Mason V. Hargett's career in tropical medicine. From 1938 to 1946, Hargett was instrumental in the research and production of yellow fever vaccine, including providing the vaccine for the U.S. military during World War II.

This collection consists primarily of records concerning Hargett's work with the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation in Brazil (1938-1939) and with the Yellow Fever Unit at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana (1940-1946). The collection includes a significant number of photographs, chiefly from Hargett's time in Brazil, as well as materials relating to the procedure and production of yellow fever vaccine in the Rocky Mountain Laboratory.

Hargett was a guest student with the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from October 1938 to November 1939. Series 2 contains documentary material from this period, including physician's manuals (in Portuguese), blank laboratory forms (the majority in Portuguese), a diary kept by Hargett, and photographs pertaining to malaria in Brazil and yellow fever control measures. The photographs document specific cases, prevention methods, facilities and equipment, and the Yellow Fever Service inspectors in Brazil. The Lantern Slides sub-series includes the lantern slides, some of which are negatives of many of the photographs included in this series.

From October 1940 to 1946, Hargett headed the Yellow Fever Unit at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory. The Rocky Mountain Laboratory was established in 1902 in response to the severe problem of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the western half of the United States. The Laboratory became part of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health in 1937. In 1948, the Rocky Mountain Laboratory and the Biologics Control Laboratory joined the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Division of Tropical Diseases of the National Institutes of Health to form the National Microbiological Institute. The Institute's name was changed in 1955 to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In addition to the yellow fever vaccine unit, Rocky Mountain Laboratory also produced spotted fever vaccine. At the start of World War II, the Rockefeller Foundation in Brazil supplied the vaccine for U.S. military. In 1942, an outbreak in hepatitis B among U.S. troops was traced to infected human serum in the Rockefeller yellow fever vaccine. The Rocky Mountain Laboratory took over production of the vaccine for the military. By then Hargett's unit had developed a method of producing the vaccine without using human serum, which they called aqueous base vaccine. After the war, the demand for yellow fever vaccine dropped. Rocky Mountain Laboratory cut back on their operations, and undertook some research studies, including one study concerning the viability of the vaccine under various conditions. When Hargett was transferred to Japan, Harry W. Burruss (bacteriologist at the laboratory) took charge of operations. Production levels were low, and yellow fever vaccine production was closed down in 1957 and transferred to the National Drug Company's Biological Division in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania. Series 3 contains materials relating to Hargett's work at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory, including experiments reports, laboratory forms and unit orders, and technical reports, as well as a complete description of the method of production of yellow fever vaccine at Rocky Mountain Laboratory, including diagrams of equipment and photographs, compiled by H.W. Burruss. The series also includes tissue section slides of human cases of yellow fever and of diseases commonly confused with yellow fever.

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