Fonds P099 - Boris Babkin Fonds

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Boris Babkin Fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Based on the documents in the fonds.

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  • 1914-1948 (Creation)
    Babkin, B. P. (Boris Petrovich), 1877-1950

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78 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Boris Petrovich Babkin, Professor of Physiology at McGill University from 1928 to 1942, was a prominent figure in the field of physiological research, especially in the area of glandular secretion and the nervous system. Dr. Babkin was a pupil, assistant and life-long friend of Ivan F. Pavlov, of whom he wrote a biography in 1949. Dr. Babkin was born in Kursk, Russia in 1877. In 1901, he began post-graduate study in the History of Medicine at the Military-Medical Academy in St. Petersburg. Babkin had decided that clinical medicine as such held no interest for him, although the science of medicine itself had great attraction. For this reason, Babkin hoped to combine his study of medical history with actual experience in its clinical and experimental aspects. In this connection, be first entered the laboratory of Ivan Pavlov at the Institute of Experimental Medicine. Although Pavlov met Babkin’s avowed interest in medical history, which he considered purely academic, with rather vehement contempt, he nevertheless agreed to let the young Babkin join his laboratory. Babkin was thus initiated into the methods of physiological research in which his interest grew to such an extent that its study, with the time and discipline required, superseded his progress not only in the clinical aspects of medicine, but in medical history itself.

By 1902, Babkin had decided to become a physiologist. He received his M.D. from the Military-Medical Academy in 1904. He worked as an assistant in Pavlov’s laboratory until 1912, and remained a close friend throughout his life. The influence of this period was undoubtedly very great, and is clearly reflected in the research interests pursued by Babkin for the rest of his life.

In 1912, Babkin was appointed to the Chair of Animal Physiology at the Agricultural Institute of Novo Alexandria. In 1915, he went to the University of Odessa as Professor of Physiology. However, in 1922. Babkin was forced to leave Russia for political reasons. The details of this episode are obscure. Babkin went to London, where he worked for a time in the laboratory of Sir Ernest Starling. After emigrating to America, Babkin received an appointment as Professor of Physiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, a position which he held until 1928 when he came to McGill. This inaugurated an active period of research and publishing, particularly on glandular secretions and the nervous system. Babkin was a Research Professor of Physiology at McGill University until 1946, and held the position of Department Chairman in 1940-1941. In addition, he was also a Research Fellow in Physiology from 1942 until 1947. After 1946, Babkin was associated with the Montreal Neurological Institute and simultaneously, was Research Fellow of Neurology at McGill. The year before his death in 1950, Dr. Babkin was awarded the Julius Friedenwald Medal for 1949 by the American Gastroenterological Association. Throughout his life, Dr. Babkin continued his experimental work and produced many scientific articles.

Custodial history

Old accession number 390. Babkin left a considerable collection of materials to McGill University. In 1968, the Babkin Collection was transferred to the Osler Library from the Department of Experimental Surgery. At that time, the collection consisted of eight boxes and fifteen folders of material, collected or written by Dr. Babkin. The collection included ca. 2,000 reprints, mostly from the 1920s to the 1940s, and nine groups of manuscripts. The decision was made to retain all manuscript material at Osler. The bulk of the reprint collection was then transferred to Dalhousie University, where a collection of reprints relating to Babkin's interest in the glands of the body, their regulation and control, was established. The Osler Library retained all those reprints in the Russian language, all presentation copies, and all pre-1930 items. Items 22-27 were donated to the Osler Library by Babkin himself, ca. 1950 (Cf. Librarian's Report to the Osler Library Board of Curators, March, 1961).

Scope and content

The fonds documents mainly Babkin's professional interests in physiology, especially glandular secretions and the nervous system. The fonds contains correspondence; lecture notes; citations; research notes and papers, including manuscripts sent to him by his colleagues; reprints of scientific articles mainly in Russian; and material used in the preparation of the biography of Ivan Pavlov. The latter contains correspondence with Ivan Petrovich Pavlov and members of his family, 1923-1948; photographs and portraits; and an unabridged typescript copy of Parts 1-3 of Pavlov: a Biography, with manuscript corrections, 1943-1946.

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  • English
  • Russian

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The documents are in English and Russian

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Items can be requested for consultation online via the Library Catalogue or by email at Advance notice is recommended.

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Complete inventory list available online.

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