Guide to the David Shemin (1911-1991) Papers

Collection Title: David Shemin (1911-1991) Papers
Dates: 1938-1998, n.d.
Bulk Dates: 1966-1989
Identification: 11/3/6/1
Creator: Shemin, David, 1911-1991
Extent: 4 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The David Shemin papers fill four boxes and span the period from 1938 to 1998. The bulk of the papers relate to Shemin's tenure at Northwestern University and date from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. The papers are arranged into four categories: biographical material, general correspondence, subject files, and publications.
Acquisition Information: Charlotte Shemin donated this collection to the Northwestern University Archives between December 14, 2001 and September 1, 2004 (Accessions #01-214, 02-9, 02-53 and 04-129).
Processing Information: Kevin B. Leonard; November 24, 2004.
Separated Materials: About three and one-half linear feet of duplicate and extraneous materials have been added to the University Archives' general reference files or discarded.
Conditions Governing Access: The general correspondence and subject files may be used only with permission of the University Archivist.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

David Shemin, a biochemist, was born March 18, 1911 at New York City, the son of Louis and Mary (Bush) Shemin. Shemin left a position at Columbia to join the faculty of Northwestern University, where he remained for the rest of his career. Shemin was an internationally recognized scientist. Shemin's research interests focused on the structure, function and mechanisms of enzymes, biosynthesis of porphyrins, protein structure, and the molecular aspects of human genetic diseases. He died in 1991.

Attending the City College of New York, Shemin majored in chemistry and biology and took his B.S. degree in 1932. He received his A.M. in chemistry in 1933 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1938. Columbia University awarded both degrees.

Shemin began his career as a scientist in 1940 with an instructorship in pathology at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons. His research centered on immunology and the chemistry of the Rous sarcoma virus. Shemin accepted appointment as assistant professor of biochemistry at Columbia in 1945, associate professor in 1949, and professor in 1953. He left Columbia to take a position as professor of biochemistry at Northwestern University. Shemin remained on the Northwestern faculty for the rest of his career and was appointed professor emeritus in 1979. At Northwestern Shemin served from 1974 through 1979 as the first chairman of the newly-created Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Between 1975 and 1987 he was the Deputy Director for Basic Sciences at the Northwestern Cancer Center.

Shemin's research interests focused on the structure, function and mechanisms of enzymes, biosynthesis of porphyrins, protein structure, and the molecular aspects of human genetic diseases. His work with isotopes in biochemical research, tracing the pathways through which the body produces constituent components, was pathbreaking. In a celebrated 1946 experiment Shemin ingested glycine containing the isotope of nitrogen 15N to trace the isotope's progress through his own bloodstream. The experiment contributed to a better understanding of blood compounds, their formation and degradation.

Shemin was an internationally recognized scientist. He worked at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute in 1947, took up residence at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1958-1959, and served at the Weitzmann Institute, Rehovoth, Israel, during the early 1970s. The Japanese Society for the Promotion of Sciences sponsored his exchange professorship in Japan in 1975. Shemin was honored by election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1958 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1961. He was a Pasteur Medalist (1951), a recipient of Columbia University's Stevens Award (1952), Harvey Society Lecturer (1955), Guggenheim Fellow (1956, 1970), an honorary member of the Swiss Biochemical Society (1958), a Commonwealth Fellow (1965), a Fogarty International Scholar (1979-1985), a Townsend Harris Medal winner (City College of New York, 1982), a Rockefeller Foundation fellow (1987), and an honorary member of the Japanese Biochemical Society. Shemin was a member of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and was an invited lecturer at a number of seminars, symposia and universities including the International Congress of Biochemistry (1955), the University of Illinois (William Albert Noyes Lecture, 1956), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Royal Society of London. He was a member of many panels of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Shemin edited the Journal of Biological Chemistry between 1960 and 1965. His own published articles number over one hundred.

Shemin married Mildred B. Sumpter in 1937 and the couple had two children: Louise (b. 1944) and Elizabeth (b. 1949). Mildred Shemin died in 1962. In 1963 Shemin married Charlotte Norton. After retirement the Shemins moved in 1981 to Woods Hole. David Shemin died there on November 26, 1991.

Scope and Content

The David Shemin papers fill four boxes and span the period from 1938 to 1998. The bulk of the papers relate to Shemin's tenure at Northwestern University and date from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. The papers are arranged into four categories: biographical material, general correspondence, subject files, and publications.

Biographical material includes general items as well as clippings, press releases and curricula vitae. Other items document the tributes given upon his retirement and after death and include the Shemin Fellowship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Shemin Memorial Lectureship, Shemin Scholars Research Fellowships, and a 1981 Symposium in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

General correspondence is chronologically arranged and covers the period 1965-1991. The volume of correspondence is small and reflects professional interests and relationships with colleagues.

Subject files form the major part of the collection. Like the general correspondence, the subject files relate to Shemin's professional and collegial interests as well as to research on porphyrins and enzymes. Included here are a number of files documenting Shemin's service to Northwestern University and its Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. These files are particularly important for the information they contain on the Department's early development, curriculum and seminar program. Subject files are arranged in alphabetical order according to keyword of folder title.

Shemin's scientific publications dating from 1938 to 1977 have been collected and bound chronologically in four volumes. A few loose publications and reprints supplement the bound items.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Personal Name

Shemin, David, 1911-1991

Subjects

Biochemistry--Study and teaching (Higher)--Illinois--Evanston

Biochemists--United States

College teachers--Illinois--Evanston


Container List / Contents

  • Biographical Material
    • Clippings and Press Releases, 1958-1998, n.d.Box 1, Folder 1
    • Curricula Vitae, 1968-1991, n.d.Box 1, Folder 2
    • General, 1975-1993, n.d.Box 1, Folder 3
    • David Shemin Fellowship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1984Box 1, Folder 4
    • David Shemin Memorial Lectureship, 1992Box 1, Folder 5
    • Shemin Scholars Research Fellowships, 1995Box 1, Folder 6
    • A Symposium in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honoring David Shemin, 1981Box 1, Folder 7
    • Will, 1978Box 1, Folder 8
  • General Correspondence
    • General Correspondence, 1965-1969Box 1, Folder 9
    • General Correspondence, 1970-1972Box 1, Folder 10
    • General Correspondence, 1973-1979Box 1, Folder 11
    • General Correspondence, 1980-1985Box 1, Folder 12
    • General Correspondence, 1986-1987Box 2, Folder 1
    • General Correspondence, 1988-1991, n.d.Box 2, Folder 2
  • Subject Files
    • Commonwealth Fund, 1963-1966Box 2, Folder 3
    • Fogarty International Center / National Cancer Center, 1984-1985Box 2, Folder 4
    • Invention Disclosures, 1973-1978Box 2, Folder 5
    • Kikuchi, Goro, 1982-1987Box 2, Folder 6
    • National Institutes of Health: Grant R01 AM 13091, ca. 1983Box 2, Folder 7
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Curricular Planning and Policy, 1973-1978, n.d.Box 2, Folder 8
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Curriculum: B91 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ca. 1978-1979Box 2, Folder 9
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Departmental Correspondence, Memoranda and Meeting Minutes, 1972-1977Box 2, Folder 10
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Departmental Correspondence, Memoranda and Meeting Minutes, 1978Box 2, Folder 11
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Departmental Correspondence, Memoranda and Meeting Minutes, 1979Box 3, Folder 1
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Departmental Correspondence, Memoranda and Meeting Minutes, 1980Box 3, Folder 2
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Departmental Correspondence, Memoranda and Meeting Minutes, 1981-1983, n.d.Box 3, Folder 3
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Engineering – Science Space Committee, n.dBox 3, Folder 4
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Graduate Student Policies, Survey of, 1973-1974Box 3, Folder 5
    • Northwestern University: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of: Seminars, 1969-1982Box 3, Folder 6
    • Northwestern University: Biophysics Electron Microscope Facility, 1979Box 3, Folder 7
    • Northwestern University: Cancer Center, 1976, 1980[?]Box 3, Folder 8
    • Northwestern University: Dreyfus Foundation and Lectures, 1976-1980Box 3, Folder 9
    • Northwestern University: Graduate School, 1978-1980Box 3, Folder 10
    • Northwestern University: Life Sciences Task Force, 1978, n.d.Box 3, Folder 11
    • Northwestern University: Planning and Development Task Force, 1979Box 3, Folder 12
    • Northwestern University: Regenstein Fund, 1968-1971Box 3, Folder 13
    • Research: Porphyria: Metabolic Basis of a Neurological Disorder, 1974-1975Box 3, Folder 14
    • Research: Porphyrins: Enzymic Mechanisms and Control of Synthesis, 1962-1979Box 3, Folder 15
    • Research: Structure and Function of Enzymes Concerned with Heme and Vitamin B12 Synthesis, 1973-1976, n.d.Box 3, Folder 16
    • Speaking Engagements, 1960-1967Box 3, Folder 17
    • Tsushima, Keizo, 1985-1987Box 3, Folder 18
    • Tuboi, Syozo, 1985-1987Box 3, Folder 19
    • University of Illinois: William Albert Noyes Lecture, 1956Box 3, Folder 20
    • Weissmann, Bernard: Glycoside Products Company, 1986Box 3, Folder 21
  • Publications
    • Mechanism of Porphobilinogen Synthase: Possible Role of Essential Thiol Groups (Draft), 1977Box 4, Folder 1
    • Steenrod Operations and Transfer, n.d.Box 4, Folder 2
    • Reprints and Fragment, 1976-1994Box 4, Folder 3
    • Collected Papers, 1938-1950Box 4, Volume 1
    • Collected Papers, 1950-1958Box 4, Volume 2
    • Collected Papers, 1958-1973Box 4, Volume 3
    • Collected Papers, 1973-1977Box 4, Volume 4