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COLLECTION Identifier: H MS c346

Robert J. Benford papers

Overview

Papers are the product of Robert J. Benford's (1905-1990) professional and research activities in the field of aviation medicine. The collection contains: correspondence and memoranda pertaining to his military duties, his involvement on the Interim Board of Aviation Medicine and the Aero-Medical Association; research files on aerospace medicine; and correspondence relating to his editorial work. The collection also includes photographs and printed material, including reports on aeronautical research, NASA's Skylab project, and a pre-publication copy of his monograph detailing the Army Air Forces Aero Medical Center in Germany.

Dates

  • 1917-1989 (inclusive),
  • Majority of material found within 1935-1960 .

Creator

Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Consult Public Services for further information.

The Robert J. Benford Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to contact Public Services for more information concerning the retrieval of material.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all materials in the collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting any third-party copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish. For more information on the Center's use, publication, and reproduction policies, view our Reproductions and Use Policy.

Extent

3.65 cubic feet ((3 records center cartons, 1 half legal document box, and 1 flat oversized box).)

Papers are the product of Robert J. Benford’s professional and research activities in the field of aviation medicine, including: correspondence and memoranda pertaining to his military duties, his involvement on the Interim Board of Aviation Medicine and the Aero-Medical Association; research files on aerospace medicine; and correspondence generated as part of his editorial positions. Papers also include: photographs; printed matter and publications; reports on aeronautical research; NASA Skylab project plans; and a pre-publication copy of Benford’s monograph detailing the work of the United States Army Air Force’s Aero Medical Center in Heidelberg, Germany.

The Benford papers are arranged in three series: Series I. Military Records and Correspondence, 1935-1958; Series II. Aero-Medical Associations and Activities, 1917-1979; and Series III. Writings, Publications, and Related Research Files, 1918-1989.

Materials entirely in English.

Biographical Notes

Robert J. Benford (1905-1990), B.A., 1927, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska; B.S., 1932, University of Nebraska, Omaha; D.M., 1934, University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Omaha, was a United States Air Force surgeon and medical journalist specializing in the field of aviation medicine. Benford was a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, from 1941 to 1942, working on the development of oxygen masks for military pilots. He later served as editor of several aerospace journals, including the United States Armed Forces Medical Journal and the Journal of Aviation Medicine.

Robert J. Benford was born 24 April 1905 in Omaha, Nebraska. After earning his B.A. at Creighton University, Benford worked as a journalist while earning his medical degree from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine (awarded 1934). Benford entered commissioned service as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army Medical Corps in 1936; he was certified as a flight surgeon in 1940. From 1940 to 1941, Benford served as a Research Associate in Physiology at Harvard School of Public Health. While an associate, he worked with Cecil K. Drinker (1887-1956) on the examination and construction of oxygen masks for high altitude flight. Subsequently, Benford served as a medical officer in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II. After the war, he commanded the United States Army Air Force Aeromedical Center in Heidelberg, Germany, where he was responsible for collecting and evaluating German medical intelligence and recruiting selected German aerospace scientists for employment in the United States. Benford wrote about his experiences in his Report from Heidelberg: The Story of the Army Air Forces Aero Medical Center in Germany (1947). In 1947, Benford transferred to the United States Air Force Medical Service, where he remained until his retirement in 1960. In 1953, Benford became editor of the U.S. Armed Forces Medical Journal. An active member of the Aerospace Medical Association, Benford served from 1955 to1960 as the editor of the association’s Journal of Aviation Medicine. He retired from the military and became Director of Medical Relations for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association in 1960.

During his lifetime, Benford authored numerous articles on the topic of aerospace medicine and its history. In 1955, to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Aerospace Medical Association, he wrote, Doctors in the Sky: The Story of the Aero Medical Association. He also compiled a list of artifacts from aviation’s early history, which was published in 1979 as The Heritage of Aviation Medicine: An Annotated Directory of Early Artifacts. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Founders Medal of the Association of Military Surgeons. In 1962, he received the Aerospace Medical Association’s Theodore C. Lyster Award for outstanding achievement in the general field of aviation medicine.

Benford married Dolores Agnes Whitely in 1937 and had twin daughters, Betty Mary and Barbara Ann. He died of pneumonia in Washington D.C., in 1991.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. Military Records and Associated Correspondence, 1935-1958
  2. II. Aero-Medical Associations and Activities Records, 1917-1979
  3. III. Writings, Publications, and Related Research Files, 1918-1989
  4. ___ A. "Report From Heidelberg" Files, 1945-1947
  5. ___ B. "Doctors in The Sky" Files, 1918-1958
  6. ___ C. "The Heritage of Aviation Medicine" Files, 1930-1980
  7. ___ D. Aero-Space Medical Research Files, 1920-1989

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Robert J. Benford papers were donated to the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine by Robert J. Benford.

Related Collections in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine

Resources

  • Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. Vol. 62, No. 2, p. 200: February, 1991.

Processing Information

Processed by Cheryl Ostrowski, December 2010.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access to the collection. To enhance preservation, processing staff rehoused the collection and, where necessary, removed rusted staples and paper clips, and photocopied documents onto acid-free paper. All folder titles were transcribed from the originals. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Center for the History of Medicine were discarded.

Title
Benford, Robert J., 1905-. Papers, 1917-1989 (inclusive), 1935-1960 (bulk): Finding Aid.
Author
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Language of description
und
EAD ID
med00134

Repository Details

Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository

The Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is one of the world's leading resources for the study of the history of health and medicine. Our mission is to enable the history of medicine and public health to inform healthcare, the health sciences, and the societies in which they are embedded.

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