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Photographs from the Dr. Michael Somogyi Collection


Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Dr. Michael Somogyi was born in Austria-Hungary in 1883 and earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Budapest in 1905. After immigrating to the United States, Somogyi worked as a Biochemistry Assistant at Cornell University Medical College from 1906 to 1908 before returning to Budapest to become chief chemist of the Municipal Laboratory. Somogyi earned his Ph.D. from the University of Budapest in 1914 and subsequently returned to the United States in 1922 in the wake of ongoing political turmoil in his homeland. While serving as an instructor in biochemistry at Washington University in St. Louis, Somogyi collaborated with Drs. Phillip A. Shaffer and Edward Adelbert Doisy on the development of a new method for preparing insulin of a sufficient quantity and quality viable for the treatment of diabetes. Somogyi's work at Washington University inspired a life-long interest in the treatment and cure of diabetes and over the course of his career he published over seventy papers on subjects ranging from the determination of glucose in blood and urine to the physiology of the behavior of insulin and other hormones. Somogyi is best known for his theory, first presented at a medical society meeting in 1938, that excessive insulin treatment could destabilize diabetes; this theory, that hypoglycemia begets hyperglycemia, eventually became known as the "Somogyi effect." In 1926, Somogyi became the first biochemist appointed to the staff of the newlyopened Jewish Hospital of St. Louis and remained there as director of the clinical laboratory until his retirement in 1957. Dr. Somogyi died in 1971 in St. Louis at age 88.

This collection consists of slides and print photographs related to the career of Dr. Somogyi and his research on insulin and diabetes. The collection was assembled by Dr. Harvey Walker, Jr. and used by Dr. Sam Frankel (retired Head Chemist of the Jewish Hospital of St. Louis) to write an article about Somogyi. The bulk of the collection is made up of photographic and lantern slides from presentations of the Somogyi Diabetes Foundation and address such topics as the goals and complications of insulin therapy, insulin injection sites, and the relationship between diabetes, nutrition, and diet. Together, these charts, graphs, and illustrations provide a rich visual history of early diabetes treatment and research. The remainder of the collection consists of portraits of Dr. Somogyi; generally, the portraits are undated, but appear to span Somogyi's lifetime, from his years in Europe to his career at Washington University. In addition, there are several photographs of Somogyi's home and his lab assistants, but no images of the lab itself or Somogyi with his noted colleagues Drs. Shaffer and Doisy.

Selected materials from this collection have been digitized and are available online in our Digital Collections:

Separated from the Dr. Michael Somogyi Collection, 1912-1979 (bulk 1924-1970); Gift of Dr. Harvey Walker, Jr., 2001.

Processed by Hillary S. Kativa in 2014. Object identification numbers were assigned to individual photographs and slides.

Science History Institute Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid created by Hillary S. Kativa and encoded into EAD by Melanie Grear
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Use Restrictions

To obtain reproductions and copyright information, contact:

Collection Inventory

Photographs—Portraits of Somogyi .
Box 1
35mm presentation slides—Illustrations.
Box 2
Lantern presentation slides—Charts, graphs.
Box 3
Lantern presentation slides—Charts, graphs.
Box 4

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