Arthur W. Anderson Papers, 1949-2000  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Anderson, Arthur Wallace, 1914-
Arthur W. Anderson Papers
1949-2000 (inclusive)
1953-1980 (bulk)
1.70 cubic feet, including 73 photographs and 6 negatives, (2 boxes)
Collection Number
MSS AndersonA
The Arthur W. Anderson Papers consist of materials generated and collected by Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Oregon State College alumnus, Dr. Arthur Wallace Anderson. Anderson graduated from Oregon State College (OSC) in 1952, having earned a PhD in Bacteriology, with minors in Biochemistry and Dairy Husbandry. He worked at OSC from 1953 until his retirement in 1980. The records mostly pertain to Anderson's research at Oregon State University and several European research institutes.
Oregon State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Research Center
Special Collections and Archives Research Center
121 The Valley Library
Oregon State University
Corvallis OR
Telephone: 541-737-2075
Fax: 541-737-8674
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

English, Swedish

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Arthur Wallace Anderson was born December 2, 1914 in Lisbon, North Dakota to Paul and Alma Anderson. His father, who immigrated from Norway in 1901, worked as a grain rancher, and prior to leaving for college in 1938, Arthur worked as a hired hand on his father’s farm. In 1938, Anderson matriculated at North Dakota State College. He graduated in 1942 with a Bachelor of Science degree and enlisted in the United States Navy’s Officer Training School. During World War II, Anderson served as the commanding officer aboard a submarine destroyer; towards the end of the war he was transferred to the Medical Service Corps and separated from service having achieved the rank of lieutenant. After the war, Anderson returned to the states and to his studies, attending the University of Wisconsin from 1946 to 1947 and graduating with a Master of Science degree. From 1947 to 1949, Anderson was employed by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; his research there focused on bacterial nutrition and vitamins.

In 1949, Anderson married Jean Mary Fuller and the couple settled in Corvallis, where Anderson attended Oregon State College (OSC). Anderson graduated in 1952, having earned a PhD in Bacteriology, with minors in Biochemistry and Dairy Husbandry, for his dissertation, Effect of Variation in Composition of Milk on Growth of Lactic Acid Starter-culture Bacteria. After completing his dissertation, Anderson worked as an Assistant Professor in the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) at University of California at Berkeley.

In 1953, Anderson applied for a position in what was then the Bacteriology Department at OSC; according to the reference letter written by then-Acting Chair P.R. Elliker, the nature of his work for the NRL was “considered secret.” Anderson was ultimately hired by OSC as an Assistant Professor in the Bacteriology Department, teaching Sanitary Bacteriology, Food Bacteriology, and General Bacteriology courses. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1959; two years later what was, by then, the Department of Bacteriology and Hygiene, became the Department of Microbiology and Hygiene. In 1964, Anderson was promoted to Full Professor.

Anderson's research primarily focused on pathogenic and toxigenic food microorganisms, and single cell protein and enzymes from agricultural and industrial waste. His research at OSU included the isolation of the first radiation-resistant microorganism, micrococcus radiodurans; for this research he received the Basic Research Award from Oregon State in 1959 and the Governor’s Northwest Scientist Award in 1962. In 1968, Anderson and members of his research team developed a “gel electrophoresis” unit to detect the presence of harmful toxins in food in as little as eight hours; previous methods could take anywhere from 36 hours to 1 week, depending on the toxin. Anderson’s method – which modified a Swedish technique known as the Laurel Method – was initially used to isolate clostridium botulinum, the bacilli which causes botulism. Not only was Anderson’s method faster, but had the added benefit of not requiring the use of animals as test subjects. In the 1970s, Anderson worked on the possibilities of protein production from grass seed and straw, as part of a project to find alternatives to open field burning in the Willamette Valley.

Anderson also did research and consulting work overseas. In 1963, he spent a year at the University of Cambridge’s Low Temperature Research Station in Cambridge, England, a lab engaged in investigating, among other things, the temperature conditions necessary to safely transport food stuffs, nationally and internationally. From 1971 to 1972, Anderson studied at the Meat Research Institute at the University of Bristol in Langford, England. While there, he researched methods to quickly detect harmful food microorganisms, and explored the use of microbial procedures for commercial production, including cellulose as a protein source and pyrolyzed oil as a source of carbon. In 1977, Anderson worked and taught at the University of Sao Paulo, in Campinas, Brazil, while simultaneously consulting at the Instituto de Tecnologia de Alimentos (Institute of Food Technology). That same year, Anderson and biological engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Michigan spent 11 days in Russia, visiting labs interested in the utilization of cellulose waste material. Though much of their visit was spent at the Microbiological Institute for Cellulose Research at Pushchino, Russia, Anderson also visited the Straw Research Center in Kolding, Denmark, and several labs in England to confer with scientists researching cellulose waste.

Thanks to Anderson’s research on uses for cellulose waste – namely straw and other agricultural waste products – Oregon opened its first “gasohol” production plant in 1980. Gasohol is a term used for the mixture of 10% ethyl alcohol (also called ethanol or grain alcohol) with gasoline; Anderson’s research was instrumental in illustrating that cellulose from hydrolyzed straw could be used to create the necessary ethanol. One hundred farmers invested $100 each to help fund the cooperative plant, which was situated in Medford.

Anderson retired from Oregon State University in the summer of 1980, after 27 years at OSU. He continued work as a freelance food industry consultant and researcher, however, consulting with several alcohol production plants in Oregon and commercial firms evaluating the potential of growing mushrooms in straw. Arthur Anderson died October 1, 2005 in Salem, Oregon.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Arthur W. Anderson Papers contain biographical materials, correspondence, a lab notebook, publications, reference materials and subject files, and photographs. Topics of research in these records include food-borne pathogens and toxins, food irradiation and preservation, mushrooms and fungi, and single-cell protein generation from agricultural and industrial waste. Of particular interest are articles and reference materials documenting Anderson’s isolation and subsequent investigations of the radiation-resistant bacterium micrococcus radiodurans.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

Arthur W. Anderson Papers (MSS AndersonA), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  Biographical Material, circa 1960-2001Return to Top

Biographical records, personal documents, and keepsakes are organized into Series 1. Records in this series include resumes, curriculum vitae, and publications lists; certificates of membership and appreciation; financial records and patent information; and materials relating to personnel materials during Anderson’s tenure at Oregon State College. Of particular note in this series is a group of records that suggest Anderson may have applied to serve as Chair of the Department of Microbiology.

Container(s) Description Dates
Curriculum vitae, list of publications
Includes a passport photograph of Anderson, circa 1990.
circa 1960-2001
Includes New York Academy of Sciences certificate of membership and two Certificates of Appreciation from Kiwanis International.
Personnel materials
Includes a dossier of materials that suggests Anderson may have applied to serve as Chair of the Department of Microbiology.
Financial records and patents

Series 2:  Correspondence, 1949-2000Return to Top

Series 2 is primarily comprised of correspondence relating to Anderson’s career and research, and is arranged chronologically. Early correspondence in the series documents Anderson’s application to continue his graduate studies at OSC in 1949; later correspondence includes letters of thanks from other teachers for his advice or for sending cultures, requests for letters of recommendation, and letters regarding consulting work Anderson undertook in his “retirement.”

Of note is a series of correspondence between Anderson and Jolynne Strang, a Paris American High School student stationed in France with her mother and father, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Strang. Their exchange documents Strang’s own work with micrococcus radiodurans, samples of which she received from Anderson. Also included in this series is a letter celebrating the Department of Microbiology’s 90th “birthday” in 1989; included with the letter is a “History of the Department of Microbiology at Oregon State University,” written by W.B. Bollen.

Container(s) Description Dates
Includes correspondence written by Jean Fuller Anderson regarding the Guinness Book of World Records incorrectly attributing the discovery of micrococcus radiodurans to a scientist other than Anderson.

Series 3:  Lab Notebook, 1980Return to Top

The single lab notebook comprising Series 3 documents Anderson’s – and his partner, Dan Morton’s – research determining growth response of two strains of Flammulina velutipes (also known as “winter mushroom,” or enoki in Japan), given different substrates or growth mediums. Growth rates were tested once per week for each growth medium: rye grass supplemented with different concentrations of red oak, and rye grass supplemented with ammonium sulfate ( (NH4)2SO4 ).

Container(s) Description Dates
Growth response of Flammulina velutipes on rye grass

Series 4:  Publications, 1956-1980Return to Top

Series 4 contains reprints of published articles authored by Arthur Anderson. The majority of the publications center on Anderson’s research with micrococcus radiodurans, clostridium botulinum, and staphylococcus aureus; the irradiation of food; and survival rates of food-borne pathogens and toxins after radiation. Also included are reprints of articles documenting Anderson’s research into economically feasible uses for agricultural wastes, namely the fermentation or hydrolyzation of straw to increase nutritive value and/or produce glucose isomerase. Materials in this series are arranged chronologically.

Container(s) Description Dates
Bacteria in bread dough fermentations
Irradiation and food toxins
Includes Anderson's work with micrococcus radiodurans, clostridium botulinum, and staphylococcus aureus.
Irradiation and food toxins
Includes Anderson's work with micrococcus radiodurans and the radicidation of seafoods.
Microbial processes with economic value
Includes an incomplete copy of the National Science Foudation publication, "Underexploited Microbial Processes with Potential Economic Value." Anderson was a member of the subpanel that worked on chapters dealing with cellulose degredation.
Straw - fermentation, as feed
Yeasts and molds

Series 5:  Reference Materials and Subject Files, 1945-1994Return to Top

Series 5, Reference Materials and Subject Files, is comprised of publications authored by scientists and researchers other than Anderson and serves to further document Anderson’s research interests and the evolution of those interests. Topics include the use of agricultural crop residue and industrial waste as fuel; cellulose fermentation and conversion to ethyl alcohol; toxins and pathogens such as clostridium botulinum and micrococcus radiodurans; food irradiation and preservation; and mushrooms and other fungi.

Of particular note are materials documenting the 4th Annual Nuclear Science Seminar at the Phillips Petroleum Company Materials Testing Reactor (MTR) in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1957. These materials include Press Tour fact sheets regarding Gamma Irradiation Facilities at the MTR, a list of abstracts for papers presented at the seminar, and a booklet about the National Reactor Testing Station situated near Pocatello, Idaho.

Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Container(s) Description Dates
Agricultural crop residue and waste, uses
Beer brewing and yeast
Includes publications by Schwartz Laboratories, Inc.
circa 1955-1993
Beer brewing and yeast
Includes "Microbiology Applied to Brewing," published by the United States Brewing Academy.
Casein precipitation of bacteria
Cellulose fermentation / conversion and ethyl alcohol
Includes 17 presentation slides on the properties of alcohol and the conversion of cellulose.
Clostridium botulinum (botulism)
Publications specifically relate to Clostridium botulinum in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.
Includes information on consulting Anderson did for the Instituto de Tecnologia de Alimentos (Institute of Food Technology) in Campinas, Brazil.
Corn, nutritional values
circa 1980
Energy farming
Federal Fuels from Biomass program
Includes Volume III, "Feedstock Availability," and Volume V, "Biochemical Conversion of Biomass to Fuels and Chemicals."
Fishing and preservation of fish
Includes materials in Swedish about Gothenburg, Sweden, and coastal fishing in Sweden.
circa 1960
General, applied, and ecological microbiology
Includes one aerial photograph of an unidentified processing plant.
circa 1982-1983
Industrial microbiology
Includes publications used as reference materials or course readings for Industrial Microbiology, MB 447, Utilization of Wastes with Microorganisms.
circa 1972
Institute of Food Technologists, Oregon section
Includes a history of the Oregon section of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), and a membership directory for the IFT.
Irradiation and food preservation
Irradiation and food toxins
Irradiation and food toxins
Irradiation and food toxins
Irradiation and food toxins
Low Temperature Research Station; Cambridge, England
Mushrooms and fungi
Mushrooms and fungi
Mushrooms and health
National Conference on Food Protection
National Controlled Atmosphere Research Conference
Oak mushroom cultivation
Passive solar hydroponic greenhouse and classroom
circa 1979
Phillips Petroleum Company, Materials Testing Reactor (MTR); Idaho Falls, Idaho
Includes materials relating to the 4th Annual Nuclear Science Seminar held at the Materials Testing Reactor in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1957.
Pulp mill waste and slime growth
Pyrolysis of industrial waste
Radiation sterilization of medical products
Straw - fermentation, use as feed

Series 6:  Photographs, circa 1955-1970Return to Top

The photographs in Series 6 document Anderson’s lab work, and include images of lab mice, and of the gel electrophoresis unit Anderson created to test for food toxins (disassembled). Also included are microscopic images of micrococcus radiodurans and sarcina RS, and photographs of presentation charts and graphs.

Container(s) Description Dates
Laboratory mice receiving injections
circa 1955-1970
Photographs of charts and graphs
Charts show products derived from aspartic acid and other members of the aspartic and glutamic family. Graphs show percent survival of radiation-resistant micrococcus pyogenes var aureus.
circa 1955-1970
Arthur Anderson
Anderson pictured in a lab, adjusting unidentified scientific apparatus. An unidentified woman in a labcoat stands to Anderson's left.
circa 1955-1970
Images of micrococcus radiodurans and sarcina RS
Includes an image of lanthanum-stained sarcina.
circa 1955-1970
Unidentified scientific apparatus
The apparatus is comprised of the following: electrodes, cooling chambers, upper and lower reservoirs, gel slot, and assembling bolts. May be a photograph of Anderson's gel eletrophoresis unit, used to detect the presence of toxins in food. Includes two negatives.
circa 1955-1970
Negatives depict an unidentified scientific apparatus, a chart showing culture turbidity for different elements (potassium, manganese), and two graphs showing correlation between protein factor and acid production in milk.
circa 1955-1970
Images of microscope slides showing cell division
circa 1958

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Agricultural wastes--Research.
  • Food--Safety measures.
  • Industrial microbiology.
  • Irradiation.
  • Mushrooms--Research.
  • Personal Names :
  • Anderson, Arthur Wallace, 1914-
  • Corporate Names :
  • Oregon State College. Department of Bacteriology and Hygiene.
  • Oregon State University. Department of Microbiology--History.
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Film negatives.
  • Photographic prints.
  • Slides (photographs).
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Anderson, Jean Fuller. (creator)