Fonds MG1031 - Orville Frederick Denstedt Fonds

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Orville Frederick Denstedt Fonds

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  • 1932-1973 (Creation)
    Denstedt, O. F. (Orville Frederick), 1899-1975

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11.7 m of textual records.

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Biographical history

Biochemist O. F. Denstedt was born in Blyth, Ontario. He obtained his B.Sc. from the University of Manitoba in 1929 and his Ph.D. from McGill University in 1937. From 1929 to 1932, he was a member of the research staff of the Pacific Fisheries Experimental Station in Prince Rupert, B.C. In 1937, Denstedt was appointed lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry at McGill; Assistant Professor, 1942; Associate Professor, 1946; and Professor, 1960. He became Gilman Cheney Professor in 1965, and in 1967 retired as Emeritus Professor. He was the author of about 80 scientific papers, mainly concerning the chemistry and biochemistry of hormones, blood preservation, hemorrhagic diseases, inflammation and various aspects of metabolism. He passed away in 1975.

Custodial history

The majority of the material was donated to the Archives by Orville’s secretary, Mrs. G. Hartman, on April 23, 1975. Some of the papers were donated to the Archives by Denstedt’s wife, Mrs. O.E. Denstedt, and by McGill’s Department of Biochemistry. Additional records were received on April 23, 1976, September 29, 1976 and January 25, 1977.

Scope and content

Fonds documents Denstedt's research work and professional activities; a much smaller percentage is devoted to his teaching work and personal interests.

The research materials comprise notebooks, reports, and general files. Approximately 40 notebooks record experiments, mostly on blood preservation, but also on basal metabolism, lipids, proteins, serum, and urine and fecal analysis (ca 1936-1947). An additional 40 general notebooks cover not only the aforementioned topics, but also more general questions such as organic chemistry, amino acids, steroids, carcinogens, and nutrition. There is also a binder of historical background material on blood preservation. The results of this research are distilled in approximately 90 progress, interim, and final reports (1943-1963) on blood preservation, anemia, haemmorhage, agglutination, vascular fragility, and hemophilia, as well as the effects of silica, insecticides and cortisone on tissues. These are supplemented by copies of other researchers' reports on these topics (1952-1956), and by 26 reports of various committees and sub-committees of the United States National Research Council on blood and related problems, and on shock (1949-1963). A group of 50 research files contains typescripts, reports and reprints on subjects of research interest to Denstedt, particularly blood (1940-1965) and the financial side of the operations of his laboratory are illustrated by two cashbooks (1963-1966). The wider context of Denstedt's professional life is revealed by general files, approximately 300 in number, containing correspondence with colleagues, scientific and medical associations, learned journals, and granting agencies, work reports from assistants and students, and reports and clippings on subjects of special research interest, as well as on wider social and scientific issues, e.g. pollution, chemical warfare, public health and food supply. A special series of files documents Denstedt's activities for the International Society of Endocrinology (1965-1971), particularly during their third international conference (1968). There are a large number of reprints, printed reports and laboratory equipment manuals.

Denstedt's role as a university teacher is reflected in a few files of correspondence from the general series noted above with university and faculty officers, and with the McGill Association of University Teachers (1955-1971), and by some reports of Senate Committees. There is also a file of Denstedt's letters of recommendation for appointments or changes of status (1960-1965). Instructional materials include basic notes (ca 1950) for Denstedt's course in endocrinology, and approximately 2,000 slides. A few papers and theses by students are also included in this series.

Personal papers comprise lecture notes for courses on physical and biological chemistry dating from Denstedt's years as a graduate student at McGill, and a large collection of printed materials on the history of McGill, and McGill scientists, probably assembled in connection with his book, A History of Biochemistry at McGill.

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