The Henry Borsook Papers cover the years 1958 to 1983, but significant gaps are present.
Section 1 is incoming and outgoing correspondence primarily covering the years 1960 to
1965. It illustrates several facets of Borsook's career, including his relationships with
colleagues, graduate students, and the food and vitamin industry, most notably with the
American Institute of Baking and Miles Laboratories. Section 2 provides manuscripts and
notes, including notes for talks given in the 1970s on food and international
development. It shows the breadth of Borsook's interests and contains his book reviews
and writings on medical history and on art history. Section 3 contains papers from the
late 1970s and early 1980s related to the Meals for Millions Foundation. At the end of
the collection is a small amount of biographical material, some reprints, slides, and
several books on food and nutrition with annotations made by Borsook.
Henry Borsook, 1897-1984, was a Professor of Biochemistry at Caltech from 1929 to 1968.
His major contributions were in the areas of protein synthesis and nutrition. At Caltech,
Borsook was twice chairman of the faculty, chaired the student health committee for many
years, and sponsored the Anaximandrian Society at his home. Borsook's interest in
proteins led him, in the early 1930s, to a new theory about their metabolism. At that
time, scientists believed the proteins were probably very stable; Borsook demonstrated
there was a continual interchange of proteins. His 1940 book, Vitamins: What They
Are and What They Will Do for You, was among the first to present contemporary
nutritional ideas to a popular audience. Borsook showed that a good diet consisted not of
"food" but of certain amounts of specific nutrients such as proteins, vitamins, calories,
and the like. During World War II he served on the Food and Nutrition Board, and helped
to draw up the table of Recommended Daily Allowances. At this time he also developed
multipurpose food (MPF), an enriched meal based on soybeans. The Meals for Millions
Foundation, of which Borsook was a co-founder and long-time trustee, distributed MPF
first to post-war Europe and later to underdeveloped areas. Throughout his lifetime,
Borsook championed the idea that a good diet was not tied to eating specific foods, but
could be scientifically manufactured. After retiring from Caltech in 1968, Henry Borsook
moved his laboratory to U. C. Berkeley where he continued working until the late 1970s.
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