Scope of the Collection
Title: Emory L. Ellis Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1925-1993
Ellis, Emory L.
Extent: Linear feet: 1
California Institute of Technology. Archives.
Pasadena, California 91125
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All
requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing
to the Head of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the
California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not
intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be
obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item, Box and file number], Emory L. Ellis Papers, Archives,
California Institute of Technology.
Emory L. Ellis took the entrance exam to Caltech in 1924 and entered as a freshman in
1925. Born in Grayville, Illinois on October 29, 1906, he was living in San Diego at the
time of his application to Caltech.
At Caltech Ellis became a chemistry major and received his B.S. in 1930. He was involved
in a variety of undergraduate activities, including the Chem Club, Pharos Fraternity, and
was the sophomore editor of the
California Tech. He continued his studies
at Caltech, receiving his M.S. in 1932 and his Ph.D. in 1934 in biochemistry.
Except for a brief stint working for the Food and Drug Administration of the U. S.
Department of Agriculture from 1934 to 1935, Ellis remained at Caltech doing postdoctoral
research until World War II. Working under a grant established by Mrs. Seeley W. Mudd for
basic cancer research, he eventually chose viruses as a means to study carcinogenesis,
specifically those viruses that attacked bacteria known as bacteriophage. Sometime in
1938, Ellis was joined by Max Delbrück, who had been seeking an organism for the
study of the structure and function of the gene. After a year of collaboration, Ellis and
Delbrück published their one groundbreaking paper, "The Growth of Bacteriophage"
J. of Gen. Physiol. 22 (1939)). Subsequently, Ellis was forced to leave
his collaboration with Delbrück, due to the requirements of his fellowship.
After some work on a vitamin project in 1941, Ellis was recruited for the Caltech rocket
project, sponsored by the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), in which
he played a key role. After 1945, he remained with the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS)
at China Lake, holding progressively more responsible positions. After a period working
in industry in 1954 through 1957, he joined the Institute for Defense Analysis in
Washington, where he was first project leader and later senior liaison representative in
London for the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group of the Defense Department.
In 1963, Ellis was invited back to Caltech by Lee DuBridge to become the Executive
Director of the Office of Industrial Associates, a position he held for two years. He
completed his professional career as a consultant to the China Lake Naval Weapons Center
(formerly NOTS), retiring in 1969.
Scope of the Collection
The Ellis Papers were donated by Dr. Ellis in 1994. They comprise two boxes of
correspondence, manuscripts and technical notes on both bacteriophage and the Caltech
vitamin plan, plus biographical material. They cover the time period of 1925 through