Biographical Notes on the Society of American Bacteriologists Charter Members


In 2001 Eric Kupferberg successfully presented his doctoral dissertation, “The Expertise of Germs: practice, language and authority in American bacteriology, 1899-1924,” to the Program in Science, Technology and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A substantial amount of Dr. Kupferberg’s primary research was conducted at the ASM’s Center for the History of Microbiology. For more than a decade he maintained very detailed notes on many of the scientists involved in this early period of American bacteriology. He has graciously granted us permission to make those notes available on our web site.


This first section relates to the charter members of SAB. The Society’s founding dates from a letter written by H. W. Conn, E. O. Jordan and A. C. Abbott in 1899, which was circulated to about forty bacteriologists in the United States and Canada. The letter invited the recipients to aid in the establishment of a society of American bacteriologists, which would affiliate itself with the Society of American Naturalists, and hold its meetings in conjunction with that organization. The first SAB meeting was held in New Haven in late December, 1899.


It was decided at that meeting that the Charter Members of the Society would include those who were then present, as well as those who did not attend but had responded positively to the circular letter. Fifty-nine individuals met those criteria, and Dr. Kupferberg’s notes on these men are included in this section.


The notes as received were not intended for publication, and required a good amount of proof-reading. During this process, I also did some fact-checking and made some additions to the notes. These additions were primarily references to the Presidential Addresses of members who served as President of SAB, and additional references to biographical resources and obituaries. In some cases, birth and/or death dates were added when Dr. Kupferberg had not included them. Common abbreviations for biographical sources are:

               ANB: American National Biography

               DAB: Dictionary of American Biography

               DSB: Dictionary of Scientific Biography


In the case where the entire entry for an individual is bracketed, there was no entry in the original notes, and I have included some basic information. Smaller bits of bracketed text are generally my explanatory notes on a question raised in the notes (e.g., regarding the spelling of A. R. Defendorf’s last name.)


Dr. Kupferberg titled the file which contained these notes “SAB Charter Members,” but he also included some additional individuals. His purpose for this was to document the network of relationships among the individuals most active at the turn of the 20th century. We agreed that, for ASM’s purposes, it was appropriate to delete these scientists from the current section, and add them to sections concerning workers in the 1900s and 1910s. The individuals deleted are listed below:


Ball, Meridian R. Greene

Cook, Eula Belle Maley

Doane C.F.

Fiske, Roy T.

Guthrie, Edward Sewall

Hayden, C.C.

Hoyt, Anson

Jones, Henry N.

Lane, Clarence Bronson

Lindegren, Carl

Stone, Raymond V.

Webster, Edward H.

Zobell, Claude


Dr. Eric Kupferberg continues to work in the field of the history of science.  You can reach him via email (  He remains very eager to collaborate with other researchers who share his commitment to the history of the American Society for Microbiology.


Jeff Karr, Archivist