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Finding Aid to the Daniel Israel Arnon papers, 1928-2001
BANC MSS 99/315 c  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Daniel Israel Arnon papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1928-2001
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 99/315 c
    Creator: Arnon, D. I. (Daniel Israel), 1910-
    Extent: Number of containers: 10 cartons, 1 box, 1 oversize folder Linear feet: 12.9
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: The Daniel Israel Arnon Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts of his writings, grant files, laboratory notebooks, experimental data, drawings for slides, research notes, lectures and speeches, awards and honors, and biographical information, which document his distinguished career at U.C. Berkeley.
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Daniel Israel Arnon papers, BANC MSS 99/315 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    • Daniel Israel Arnon reprints have been transferred to the University Archives.
    • Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
    • Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    • Videotapes/sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms Collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog
    Plant physiology--Research--California
    Faculty papers
    History of science and technology collection

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Daniel Israel Arnon Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by his family in June, 1999, with additions made in 2000 and 2001.


    Funding for processing was provided by the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology.

    Biographical Sketch

    Daniel Israel Arnon was born in Warsaw, Poland, on November 14, 1910. He completed his B.S. degree in 1932, and his Ph.D. in plant physiology and biochemistry in 1936, both at the University of California, Berkeley. His doctoral dissertation examined the role of trace elements in nitrogen metabolism in plants. After military service in World War II, he set up and directed an experimental nutrient culture center on Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, for the United States Army Air Corps. Except for this military service and sabbatical leaves in England, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and Pacific Grove, California, he spent his entire career at U.C. Berkeley.
    Arnon's work as a plant biochemist can be divided into two major categories and time periods. From 1936 until 1950, he was primarily involved in plant nutrition studies. He and his collaborators discovered the importance of trace elements, particularly molybdenum and vanadium, in plants and algae. This work led in turn to important developments in the study of nitrogen metabolism.
    From 1951 until the end of his life, Arnon concentrated on photosynthesis. He discovered and devised the term photophosphorylation (photosynthetic phosphorylation), and was the first to demonstrate complete photosynthesis outside the living cell (New York Times, December 30, 1954). As Arnon's long-time colleague, Professor Bob B. Buchanan, has noted, "This discovery opened the door to a new epoch in photosynthesis and made possible the elucidation of the systems that regulate the assimilation of carbon dioxide as well as the paths of biosynthesis of major cellular products." Aided by major grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the United States Navy Office of Naval Research and the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, Arnon's work led to breakthrough discoveries, including his electron flow theory, the mechanism of nitrogen fixation and hydrogen evolution, and proof that ferredoxin is a universal part of the photosynthetic apparatus.
    Arnon received many awards for his pioneering work with photosynthesis. These included membership in the National Academy of Sciences [U.S.] and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1962); membership in various international learned societies; honorary doctoral degrees from the Université de Bordeaux (1975) and the Universidad de Sevilla (1992); the Berkeley Citation (1985), the highest honor bestowed by the U.C. Berkeley campus; and the National Medal of Science (1973), the nation's highest scientific award. He also received two Guggenheim Fellowships (Cambridge University, 1947-1948, and Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, 1962-1963), and a Fulbright Fellowship (Max-Planck Institut für Zellphysiologie, Berlin-Dahlem, 1955-1956).
    Arnon married Lucile Jane Soulé on February 24, 1940. He became a naturalized United States citizen on March 31, 1941. The couple had five children: Anne Arnon Hodge, Ruth Soulé Arnon Hanham, Ph.D., Stephen S. Arnon, M.D., Nancy Arnon Agnew and Dennis Soulé Arnon, Ph.D., all of whom survive their parents. Lucile Arnon died in 1986, and Daniel Arnon died on December 20, 1994.
    For a more complete biography, see "Daniel I. Arnon, 1910-1994, A Biographical Memoir by Bob B. Buchanan," published by the National Academy of Sciences as part of their Biographical Memoirs series (Volume 80, 2001): [http://books.nap.edu/html/biomems/darnon.html; http://books.nap.edu/html./biomems/darnon.pdf]. The Bancroft Library is indebted to Professor Buchanan and to Dr. Ruth Soulé Arnon Hanham for their generous assistance with this biographical sketch, and their expert help with the arrangement and description of the collection.

    Scope and Content

    The Daniel Israel Arnon Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts of his writings, grant files, laboratory notebooks, experimental data, drawings for slides, research notes, lectures and speeches, awards and honors, and biographical information, which document his distinguished career at U.C. Berkeley.
    The collection contains an extensive run of correspondence, primarily letters received by Arnon, but also some copies of those written by him. This series forms just over half of the total collection. Arnon was obviously a frequent and diligent letter-writer. The great majority of the correspondence in Series 1 is professional in nature, although some letters and postcards to and from family members are included. Many of his long-term correspondents were younger European and Asian scientists, who held postdoctoral positions in his laboratory after World War II, and then returned to teach and do research in their respective countries. Series 1 also includes incoming and outgoing correspondence and other materials regarding personnel matters involving visiting scholars, research assistants, graduate students, colleagues and lab staff. These files are arranged alphabetically.
    Although Series 2 contains fewer than 40 manuscripts of articles, they allow the researcher some insight into the meticulous way in which Arnon wrote and revised. The series contains lists of his publications, and a copy of this doctoral dissertation, entitled Influence of Hydrogen Ion Concentration, Manganese, Copper, Oxygen Supply and Season on the Ammonium and Nitrate Nitrogen Nutrition of Barley (U.C. Berkeley, 1936).
    Series 3 begins with the Grants subseries, dating from 1948 through 1986. The grant files provide an inside look into Arnon's particular research interests, including various aspects of photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and assimilation, and enzyme studies. The second subseries, Laboratory Notebooks, dates from the late 1940's through the early 1970's. A much more detailed look at Arnon's scientific and pedagogical career can be gleaned by examining his experimental data (beginning with Experiment Number 75). Unfortunately, this data exists for the period 1980 through 1983 only. The final subseries contains the original artwork and scientific data which were later made into actual photographic transparencies. The slides are housed in the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library. They have been expertly arranged by Arnon's close colleague, Professor Bob B. Buchanan, to show the development of Arnon's scientific thinking.
    The fourth series, Research Notes, provides a brief overview of the many general scientific topics which were of interest to Arnon. The topics range from organic farming to the history of research on photosynthesis.
    Arnon's professional speaking activities outside the university's walls are well-documented in Series 5. His lecture notes date from the late 1930's and continue through the early 1990's.
    The final series is divided into two subseries, Awards and Honors, and Biographical Information. Series 6 contains key documents for biographers, including award certificates, two festschrifts, Arnon's naturalization certificate, marriage license, passports, World War II military records, Bio-bibliographies, biographical statements, newsclippings, press releases and obituaries.