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Register of the Karl Friedrich Meyer Miscellaneous Papers, 1928?-1947
MSS 47-8  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Data

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Karl Friedrich Meyer Miscellaneous Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1928?-1947
    Collection number: MSS 47-8
    Creator: Meyer, Karl Friedrich, 1884-1974
    Extent: 1 box (7 folders)
    Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Library. Archives and Special Collections.
    San Francisco, California 94143-0840
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Karl Friedrich Meyer Miscellaneous Papers, MSS 47-8, Archives & Special Collections, UCSF Library & CKM

    Biographical Data

    Karl Friedrich Meyer was born on May 19, 1884, in a suburb of Basel, Switzerland. He obtained his undergraduate instruction at Zurich, where he received his A.B. degree in 1905. Following graduate study at the Universities of Basel, Munich, Bern and Zurich, he received the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Zurich in 1909 and a Ph.D. in Zoology in 1924.
    From 1908 to 1910 Dr. Meyer was pathologist to the Department of Agriculture in the Transvaal, South Africa. From there he went to the University of Pennsylvania, first as assistant professor and later as professor of pathology and bacteriology. In 1913 he came to the University of California as associate professor of bacteriology and proto-zoology. His important work during this period in the absolute prevention of botulism by proper bacteriologic precautions during the preparation of preserved foods made the California canning industry possible.
    In 1921 he became acting director of the George Williams Hooper foundation for Medical Research and in 1924 director and professor of bacteriology. In 1954 he became director emeritus and professor emeritus, but was recalled annually to active service until the year of his death.
    Dr. Meyer's primary field of interest was the role of animals as hosts for vectors of human disease, which led to his leadership in the battle against anti-vivisectionist pressures, but he also made numerous contributions in the areas of microbiology, immunology and epidemiology. He was the first to find the non-psittacine reservoirs of psittacosis, the first to demonstrate complement fixation to psittacosis, and he showed how to eliminate psittacosis from large flocks of commercial poultry by impregnating feed. His identification of sylvatic plague, showing the inland reservoirs of this infection and their relation to plague-infested rats on Pacific coastal areas, his contributions toward the development of a plague vaccine, and recognition of the antigenic components of plague bacilli are internationally known. His research on paralytic shellfish intoxication alerted the state health department to issue warnings about mussels, and the more colloquial dictum to avoid eating mussels in months without R, at which time mussels host the poisonous gonyaulax. Dr. Meyer's extensive bibliography (over 400 publications) also includes studies in such diverse areas as rabies, polio and nuclear fallout.
    During his career, Dr. Meyer was frequently called to lecture throughout the world. Some of the more notable lectureships he held include the Cutter Lecturer at Harvard in 1931, Hektoen Lecturer the same year, Gehrmann Lecturer in 1933, Smith-Reed-Russell Lecturer in 1935, University of California Faculty Research Lecturer in 1937, Visiting Lecturer in Epidemiology at Harvard in 1941 and, also in 1941, DeLamar Lecturer at Johns Hopkins and Harvey Lecturer. His work was recognized by many countries with numerous prizes and medals. Among these were the decoration Officier d'Ordre de La Santé Publique in 1941, the Sedgewick Memorial Medal in 1946, the James B. Bruce Medal in 1950, the Walter Reed Medal from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1956. Additionally, Dr. Meyer held many fellowships, memberships, consultancies, board/commission/committee appointments, and honorary degrees.
    Karl Friedrich Meyer died on April 27, 1974, just three weeks before his 90th birthday.