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Institute for Innovative Education

laboratory notebooks of frank a. smith


On 10 June 1944, shortly after receiving his Ph.D. in physiological chemistry (i.e., biochemistry) from Ohio State University, Frank Ackroyd Smith (1919-1994) joined the Manhattan Project at the University of Rochester. Smith became a member of the Fluoride Laboratory of the Industrial Hygiene Section, part of the Manhattan Project's Division of Pharmacology & Toxicology. The laboratory had been initiated in 1941 by Ann Tarbell, Ph.D., who headed the unit when Smith arrived, but who left the following year to raise a family. From then on Frank Smith headed both the Fluoride Laboratory and the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory of the Industrial Hygiene Section.

Initially the Fluoride Laboratory's purpose was to determine the fluoride content of urine samples collected from industrial personnel at Manhattan Project sites across the United States. Isolating needed isotopes from uranium ore exposed workers to hydro fluorides, tetra fluorides and hexafluorides which required monitoring. Occasionally the Laboratory was required to do fluoranalysis of bone samples for autopsies. Much of the initial work for determining bone fluorides was established in the Fluoride Laboratory at this time. The Laboratory can also be credited for having developed a successful analytic methodology for measuring fluoride in human blood, which had previously been very difficult to determine.

With the closure of the Manhattan District, the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology continued to function under the aegis of the newly formed Atomic Energy Commission. The Fluoride Laboratory in Rochester provided fluoranalysis for the AEC nationwide.

As interest in water fluoridation increased in the mid-1950s, Smith began joint research on fluorides with Harold Hodge. Hodge had had long been involved in dental research, and also headed the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology for the AEC from 1948 to 1958. The field of fluoride metabolism was largely virgin ground when Smith and Hodge began their investigations into fluoride absorption, distribution and excretion.

The Notebooks

The eighty-eight notebooks in this collection were presented to the Rare Books & Manuscripts section of the Edward G. Miner Library by Frank A. Smith, Ph.D. in the summer of 1993. They are contained in eleven boxes and occupy five linear feet.

The laboratory notebooks of Frank A. Smith record testing and experimentation in the Fluoride Laboratory from the time of its establishment in March 1944 through 1962. The notebooks are divided into three series. The first is a numbered series of fifty-five notebooks dating from March 1944 through the mid-1960s (boxes 1-7). In addition to the Miner Library's own inventory of this series, there is an "Index to Fluoride Laboratory Notebooks" for these fifty-five numbered volumes which was prepared by the Laboratory, and which is appended to the hard copy of the Miner Library's inventory to this collection.

The second and third series of notebooks are unnumbered (boxes 8- 11). Almost the whole of the second series (1947-1961) bears the name of F.A. Smith on the cover and apparently records research in which Smith was personally involved. The third series contains the data of two studies: Fluoride Study No. 1 (1958-1960) and Fluoride Study No. 2 (1961-1962).

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Frank A. Smith

photo of Frank A. Smith