About this Collection

Oswald Theodore Avery (1877-1955) was a distinguished Canadian-born bacteriologist and research physician and one of the founders of immunochemistry. He is best known for his discovery that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) serves as genetic material. The work of Avery and the members of his team at the Rockefeller Institute, observes Nobel laureate Dr. Joshua Lederberg, was "the historical platform of modern DNA research" and "betokened the molecular revolution in genetics and biomedical science generally."

Because of the strong connection between his and Avery's work, Dr. Lederberg collected materials related to Avery's career and donated them to the NLM. Additional materials were drawn from the Oswald T. Avery Papers at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Documents in NLM's Oswald T. Avery Collection range from 1912 to 2005. The collection contains awards, laboratory notes, research reports, published articles and books, correspondence, unpublished manuscripts, speeches, photographic prints, and audiovisual materials.

As part of its Profiles in Science project, the National Library of Medicine has made available online, in collaboration with the Tennessee State Library and Archives, a digitized selection of the Oswald T. Avery Papers. This website provides access to the portions of the Oswald T. Avery Papers that are now publicly available. Individuals interested in conducting research using the full collection of Oswald T. Avery Papers should contact the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the National Library of Medicine.

This Profile is designed to introduce you to the various phases of Avery's scientific career and professional life. Narrative sections available from the navigation bar under "The Story" focus on Avery's life and major scientific contributions.

Researchers can search the digitized items using the Search box or browse all Documents and Visuals in the collection by selecting "Collection Items" from the navigation bar.