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Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Papers of Harold W. Beams
RG 99.0193
Collection Dates: 1927-1988
3.5 linear ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

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Acquisition and Processing Information: These materials were transferred to the University Archives by the Biology Department in January 1998.  Finding aid posted to the Internet November 2010.

Photographs: Box 2; Box 3; Box 4

Professor Harold W. Beams, March 29, 1968

Harold W. Beams, March 29, 1968

Frederick W. Kent Collection of Photographs

Scope and Contents

The papers of Harold W. Beams include correspondence, grant folders, manuscripts, notebooks, photographs, and reprints dated 1927 to 1987 on his cytology research, electron microscopy, and Golgi bodies. Collaborators and correspondents include Richard G. Kessel, Robert L. King, and Fritiof S. Sjöstrand.

Biographical Note

Harold William Beams was born August 3, 1903, in Belle Plaine, Kansas.  In 1925 he received a B. A. degree in biology at Fairmount College (later named Wichita State University) and received his M.A. in zoology from Northwestern University the following year.  He took the Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Wisconsin in 1929.

Beams' was appointed assistant professor of zoology at the State University of Iowa in 1930 and was named full professor in 1939.  His research in cell biology (cytology) was broad.  Beams had an older brother, Jesse W. Beams, a physicist at the University of Virginia, who invented the air turbine ultracentrifuge.  Harold utilized his brother's invention in his own research with Robert L. King in 1934 to settle a controversy over whether the Golgi Apparatus was real or artifact.  Among the 150 papers Beams published was a review article on the Golgi apparatus, which appeared in the International Review of Cytology in 1968.

Beams was the recipient of an award by the Iowa Microbeam Society for his ground-breaking work in electron microscopy, having published his first studies on this topic in 1949.  The Carver/Harold W. Beams Distinguished Professorship was established at the University of Iowa in 1989. 

Following his retirement in 1971, Beams continued his research.  His laboratory was housed within the Biology Annex, later named the Sciences Library.

Beams married Mona K. Murphy in July 1935 and they had a son, David, and a daughter, Marilyn.   Harold Beams died January 26, 1992.

[D. Anderson; 11/2010]

Related Materials

Folder, "Beams, Harold W.," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Beams, Harold W. "Oral History Interview." University of Iowa Oral History Project, 25. 49 pp. 1976 (RG 01.06)

Lee, Arthur Bolles; Harold W. Beams; J. (James) Brontë Gatenby. The Microtonmist's Vade Mecum; A Handbook of the Methods of Animal and Plant Microscopic Technique. London: J. & A. Churchill, 1950.

Phillips, Lincoln Ramsey. "What No Longer Exists, for Example: the Beams Lab, Biology Annex." M.S. thesis, University of Iowa, Iowa City, 1998.  This is a photo essay of the Beams Lab following a period of discontinued use.

Papers of Michael Solursh (RG 99.0195)

Box Contents List

Box 1

Reprints, 1927-1950

Box 2

Reprints, 1951-1961 [includes some photographs]

Box 3

Reprints, 1962-1987

Beams cited in works of other researchers, 1930-1955

Beams bibliography [incomplete], 1930-1968

Symposiums, seminars, society meetings, 1958-1963




Box 4

Research manuscripts [includes some photographs], 1956-1969

Box 5

Research manuscripts, 1970-1984

Box 6

S. U. I. course notes, [1967?]


Broseghini, Albert L., 1958

Danielli, F. R. S., 1965-1966

Flexner, Louis B. [includes Beams' biography of Frank A. Stromsten], 1959

Hadek, R., 1958-1959

Hancher, Virgil M., 1958

Kessel, Richard, 1961

Beams to Kessel, offer of position, 1961

Beams recommendation of Kessel to two positions and Kessel's vita, 1958; 1964; 1972

King, Robert L., 1965

Lacy, Dennis, 1956

Laster, Howard, 1980

Loehwing, W. F., 1958

Macleod, A. Garrand, 1958

Randall, J. T., 1958

Sjöstrand, Fritiof S., 1963

Requests for reprints, 1953; 1958; 1965

Thesis committee in Egypt, 1958

Box 7


Editors and publishers, 1961-1985

Suppliers, 1958-1967


Box 8

Grant applications and progress reports, 1966-1988

National Science Foundation grant guidelines; grant funding receipts, 1979-1982