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Institute for Innovative Education

Papers of edward f. adolph, Ph.D.



Edward Frederick Adolph (1895-1986) was a member of the Department of Physiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry from 1925 until his death in December 1986. In addition to his role as a teacher of several generations of physicians and physiologists, Adolph was known internationally for his research in physiological regulation and physiological adaption.

The papers of Edward F. Adolph span the period 1913 to 1986. They include correspondence, an extensive file of materials dealing with his activities in the American Physiological Society, a complete series of grant contracts and reports (1923-1973), and work data spanning the length of his research career. The bulk of the Adolph papers were presented to the Rare Books and Manuscripts section of the Edward G. Miner Library by the Department of Physiology in April 1987. Processing of that portion of the collection was completed in June 1987. Additional material was donated to the collection in the spring of 2008 by Adolph's grand-daughter Carol M. Berger, of Thousand Oaks, California (Boxes 65-78). The Adolph collection is contained in seventy-eight boxes occupying thirty-six linear feet.

Biographical Data


Edward Frederick Adolph was born in Philadelphia on 5 July 1895. His father William was a noted engraver and his mother Wilhelmina (Fleischmann) a school teacher. After finishing the Belmont School in 1909, Adolph entered Philadelphia's Central High School where he received training in the classics and from which he graduated in 1913. After receiving his A.B. from Harvard University in 1917, Adolph did graduate studies in chemical physiology and zoology at Yale University before serving in the hospital laboratories of the U.S. Army Medical Department. Adolph then returned to Harvard where he completed his Ph.D. in 1920 under the guidance of Lawrence J. Henderson.

In 1920-21 Adolph was a Sheldon Travelling Fellow (of Harvard University) at Oxford, where he worked under J.S. Haldane. In 1921 he accepted his first teaching position as an instructor in zoology at the University of Pittsburgh. He remained in Pittsburgh until 1924. During this period, Adolph also taught summers at the Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, Ma.

In 1924-25 Adolph was a National Research Council Fellow at Johns Hopkins. At the end of his appointment, he accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Physiology in the department recently organized at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry by Wallace Osgood Fenn. Adolph remained in Rochester the rest of his career: Assistant Professor (1925-1928), Associate Professor (1928-1948), Professor (1948-1960). He was made Professor Emeritus in 1960.

Adolph's research interests at Rochester over a period of sixty-two years included investigations into the physiological regulation of size, body fluids and temperature, the physiology of man in the desert, physiological adaption, and the ontogeny of regulations. Adolph was the author of 155 articles and four books: The Regulation of Size as Illustrated in Unicellular Organisms (1931); Physiological Regulations (1943); Physiology of Man in the Desert (1947); and Origins of Physiological Regulations (1968).

In 1927-28 Adolph was a Guggenheim Fellow at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. In 1936-37 he was a research associate at Harvard University. In 1948 Adolph was awarded the Presidential Certificate of Merit for his war work on the physiology of man in the desert. He was elected president of the American Physiological Society in 1953.

Adolph was married to Mary Grace Baggs on 4 April 1921. They had three children: Jean, Ruth and Carl. Edward F. Adolph was admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital on 10 December 1986. He died of cardiac arrest on 15 Dec 1986.

Overview of the Adolph Papers


The seventy-eight boxes of the Adolph papers are arranged in the following series:

Biographical Data

Career & Biographical Data, Box 1


Adolph altered the arrangement of his correspondence files after 1963. All correspondence prior to 1964 is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, with separate folders in the alphabetical series for major correspondents (all of whom are listed in the inventory).

Correspondence to 1963 (alphabetical), Boxes 2-5

Beginning in 1964, Adolph began to arrange his correspondence chronologically. Thus, the post-1963 correspondence of major correspondents who might easily be located in the alphabetical series is less easily accessible in the chronological series.

Correspondence 1964-1986 (chronological), Boxes 6-8


The greater part of this series (six of seven boxes) is given to Adolph's activities in the American Physiological Society. In 1945 Adolph was chairman of the APS's committee on the status of physiology (box 9, folders 1- 11); served as president of the APS in 1953; and organized the Society's Education Committee, with which he was extensively involved from 1954 until the early 1960s.

Organizations, Boxes 9-15


This is one of several series that was pulled and arranged separately from the work data in Adolph's files. By doing so, it was felt that Adolph's activities as a consultant, his involvement in various committees, and his attendance at symposia would be more easily discernible. Material in this series is arranged chronologically.

Committees, Consultations & Conferences, Boxes 16-19

Grant Contracts & Reports

The material in this series is arranged chronologically and describes the funding awarded Adolph's research from 1923 to 1973, and its progress through the corresponding reports. This series was also separated from Adolph's work data files (in which it was scattered) to make the nature and extent of Adolph's research more immediately recognizable and more easily accessible to historical researchers. A review of this series provides a complete history of Adolph's research, and serves as an introduction to the extensive work data series.

Grant Contracts & Reports, Boxes 20-22


Bound Reprints of EFA, Vols. 22A-22E

Bound Reprints of the Laboratory of EFA, Vols. 22F-22G

Proceedings, Preliminary Lab. Publ. & Abstracts, Box 23

Work Data

This series contains Adolph's research notes, outlines, laboratory data and some correspondence (directly pertaining to work at hand). Adolph divided his work files into three chronological series: his work prior to 1942; his war work; and his research from the end of the second world war.

These series are for the most part arranged chronologically, although Adolph did place files from one period with those of another when they bore directly on his later research. The labelling of folders in this series is a direct transcription of Adolph's own description of their contents.

Added to the original arrangement of the work data series were three separately maintained files from Adolph's office: his own "roof experiments" in Rochester (1945) studying the effects of cold on man; the work data of colleagues incorporated into Adolph's own research (e.g., H.D. Kingsley on water metabolism in dogs, D. Smith on hypothermic rats); and quite extensive files relating to the publication of Physiological Regulations and Man in the Desert.

A conspectus of the grants awarded Adolph may best reflect the arrangement and content of the work data series:

Work Data 1915-1942

  • 1923 Elizabeth Thompson Science Fund
    Physiology of the kidneys
  • 1925 Ella Sachs Plotz Fund
    Electrical equipment
  • 1932-42 Fluid Research Fund )
    Water balance in children

Work Data 1915-1942, Boxes 24-29

Work Data World War II

  • 1942-45 Office For Emergency Management Committee On Medical Research
    CMR-206: water metabolism in warm climates
  • 1944-46 Office For Emergency Management Committee On Medical Research CMR-483: tolerance to heat and cold

Physiological Regulations Book, Boxes 30-34

Work Data World War II, Boxes 35-36

Work Data: Roof Experiments, Boxes 37-39

Man in the Desert Book, Boxes 40-41

Work Data 1946-1986

  • 1946-49 Air Material Command AC-14741: study of temperature regulation
  • 1948-52 U.S. Public Health Service RG-1378: adaption of animals to cold & dehydration
  • 1950-53 Department of the Army Quartermaster Food & Container Institute QM-532, 14855, 1257: investigation of thirst
  • 1950-61 Department of the Army Office of the Surgeon-General DA-49-007 MD-155: basic studies of severe hypothermia
  • 1953-56 National Science Foundation G-424:
    physiological development of regulatory functions
  • 1956-60 National Science Foundation G-2967:
    development of regulatory activities
  • 1960-62 National Science Foundation G-11412:
    ontogeny of physiological regulations
  • 1962-65 National Science Foundation GB-325:
    ontogeny of some regulatory activities
  • 1965-68 National Science Foundation GB-4390:
    ontogeny of some physiological regulations
  • 1968-70 National Science Foundation GB-7185:
    serial order of development in ontogeny of several physiological regulations
  • 1970-73 National Science Foundation GB-18546:
    experimental modification of the onsets of several physiological regulations

Work Data 1946-1986, Boxes 42-59


The two boxes in this series relate to Adolph's classroom activities. Included are Adolph's course schedules 1926- 1938; lists of graduate students sponsored by Adolph; Ph.D. examination committee reviews (1929-73); and various lectures or notes of lectures delivered at the University of Rochester. Also included in this series is the manuscript of Adolph's history of the Department of Physiology.

Teaching, Boxes 59-60

Research Proposal Evaluations

Research Proposal Evaluations, Boxes 61-62


EFA'S Lab Coat, Box 63

EFA's academic gown

Additional Material Acquired in 2008

In the spring and summer of 2008, Adolph's grand-daughter Carol M. Berger donated material that had been retained by her mother (Jean McPherson) after her grandfather's death. This donation includes autobiographical material; Central High School (Philadelphia) and Harvard University memorabilia; photographic albums of Adolph's laboratory in Rochester and of his work in the California desert; seven folders of correspondence spanning the period 1916-1986; diary-like pocket memorandum books maintained by Adolph between 1937 and 1980; scrapbooks recording Adolph's travels between 1920 and 1980; his collection of stamp covers; and memorabilia.

Additional Material, Boxes 65-78


Library Search


Edward F. Adolph

Edward F. Adolph, Ph.D.


Overview of the Adolph Papers


Adolph Collection Container List


For questions regarding this collection, please contact:

Christopher Hoolihan