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Robert B. Livingston Papers
MSS 418  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Robert B. Livingston Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 418
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 12.0 Linear feet (30 archives boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1935 - 1990
    Abstract: Papers of Robert B. Livingston, professor of neuroscience and medical administrator. The collection includes early correspondence (1947-1952), writings, talks and lectures, project materials, and UCSD teaching materials. Also included are papers of Livingston's mentor John F. Fulton.
    Creator: Livingston, Robert Burr, 1918-

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Robert Burr Livingston Papers document the career and professional activities of a noted neuroscientist, professor and medical administrator. Materials include early correspondence (1947-1952), writings, talks and lectures, project materials, and some UCSD teaching materials. Also included are papers of Livingston's mentor John F. Fulton. The bulk of Livingston's papers were destroyed prior to the acquisition of these materials. The papers are arranged in seven series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) SUBJECT FILES, 3) WRITINGS, 4) LECTURES AND TALKS, 5) PROJECTS, 6) TEACHING MATERIALS, and 7) JOHN F. FULTON MATERIALS.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and includes letters from Leo Szilard, Jonas Salk, Linus Pauling, Wilder Penfield, Carl Sagan, and Lewis Thomas. There is correspondence documenting Livingston's involvement with the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, the Foundations' Fund for Research in Psychiatry and the Institute for Policy Studies, of which he was a founding member. A very rich correspondence covers the period from 1947 to 1952, while Livingston was a member of the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine and spent time in Europe receiving advanced training. Of particular interest are letters to Paul C. Smith, editor and general manager of the San Francisco Chronicle, that report on his interpretations of the climate and mood of post-war Europe.
    A large number of files document Livingston's various involvements in and his role as a founding member of the Institute for Policy Studies and with Fritjof Capra of the Elmwood Institute. The subject files also document Dr. Livingston's ongoing interest in disarmament, peace and anti-nuclear issues.
    The writings largely relate Livingston's interest in peace and disarmament. Also included are some incomplete drafts of his chapters in John F. Fulton's Physiology of the Nervous System, as well as reprints of a few of his scholarly articles.
    This series includes several talks Livingston gave on issues of peace and disarmament, such as his lecture on deterrence and on the Cuban Missile Crisis. It also includes his notes for the American Association for the Advancement of Science Holiday Science Lecture series, presented to statewide honors high school students in Florida (1958) and Oregon (1959).
    The PROJECTS series is arranged by project in three subseries: A) Brain Mapping Project, B) Committee for Undernourished People, and C) The Human Brain Film.
    A) The Brain Mapping Project subseries is arranged alphabetically and consists largely of transcripts of a week-long meeting called the Task Definition Workshop, where Livingston and others met to sort out the tasks and goals for this new project. The transcripts are arranged chronologically. The subseries also contains data and digitized computer drawings of brain sections of monkeys, rats and other animals.
    B) The Committee for Undernourished People subseries includes research subject files, arranged alphabetically. Also included is correspondence with Vicky Newman, Newman's dietary analyses, and data on nutrition of pregnant women and mothers.
    C) The Human Brain Film subseries is arranged alphabetically and contains correspondence pertaining to the film, funded by Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. The subseries also includes draft scripts for the film, as well as license agreements.
    The TEACHING MATERIALS series consists mainly of documents that Dr. Livingston collected to develop his Neurosciences Study Plan at UCSD. There is very little documentation on courses which Dr. Livingston taught, although there are some files pertaining to a genetics course that he taught. The series primarily documents Dr. Livingston's process for developing a teaching plan for a graduate program in neurosciences.
    The JOHN F. FULTON MATERIALS series consists mainly of Fulton's diary (1949-1957), which was sent to a number of people as weekly correspondence, but also contains some of his writings on the history of medicine at Yale. The remainder consists of correspondence between Livingston and Fulton, filed chronologically by year from 1949 to 1956. During the time Livingston was at Yale, John Fulton was Livingston's supervisor. Fulton was chair of the Department of Physiology, and after retirement he joined the Department of the History of Medicine at Yale.


    Robert Burr Livingston was born in 1918, received his bachelors degree from Stanford University in 1940 and graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1944, where he did his residency in internal medicine. His major academic appointments include the Yale University School of Medicine (1946-1952), the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine (1952-1957) and the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine (1964-1989). In 1956 he was appointed Director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1964 he became the founding chair of the Department of Neurosciences at UCSD. Throughout his career, Dr. Livingston was active in several anti-nuclear weapons and peace organizations, including the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize for Peace.
    Dr. Livingston's research has been concerned with investigating combinations of nervous and mental functions, using neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, behavioral, and clinical techniques. He has published widely in these fields, including chapters in John F. Fulton's Physiology of the Nervous System and a dozen chapters in Best and Taylor's Physiological Basis of Medical Practice. While a professor in the Department of Neurosciences at UCSD, he developed the Neurosciences Study Plan for students in neurosciences. He is well known for his work in the cinemorphology of the human brain, using a technique developed at UCSD by Roy E. Mills which involves slicing, staining and photographing very thin sections of the whole human brain in sequence. An award-winning film on this subject, titled The Human Brain: A Dynamic View of its Structures and Organization was produced in 1976 by Sy Wexler.
    Dr. Livingston has also made significant contributions to the study of the relationship between chronic undernutrition and human brain development, and he was involved in a project titled the "Committee for Undernourished People." In 1986, the Army Medical Corps Research and Development Command selected Dr. Livingston's Laboratory for Quantitative Morphology in the Department of Neuroscience at UCSD to establish a national research and development program to construct a prototype computer system that would be capable of mapping in three dimensions and displaying the entire human brain at microscopic levels of detail. Individuals involved at UCSD and Scripps Institution of Oceanography included R. Livingston, F. Bloom, H. Karten, D. Armstrong, J. Morrison, W. Young, and S. Foote.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Preferred Citation

    Robert B. Livingston Papers, MSS 418. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available



    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Committee for Undernourished People.
    Elmwood Institute.
    Fulton, John F., (John Farquhar), 1899-1960
    Institute for Policy Studies
    Livingston, Robert Burr, 1918-
    Mellinkoff, Sherman M., (Sherman Mussoff), 1920-
    Penfield, Wilder, 1891-1976
    Smith, Paul C.
    Thomas, Lewis, 1913-
    Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim
    University of California, San Diego. School of Medicine. Dept. of Neuroscience.
    Brain mapping
    Brain mapping--Methodology
    Deterrence (Strategy)--United States -- History
    Malnutrition -- Research
    Neurologists -- United States -- Biography
    Neurosciences -- United States
    Nuclear disarmament
    Nutrition -- Research