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Harold W. Beams Papers

Identifier: RG99.0193

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. Sjostrand.


  • 1927-1988


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

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.


3.50 linear feet


Professor of zoology with focus in cytology, 1930-1971. Ground-breaking work in electron microscopy. Manuscripts and correspondence.

Method of Acquisition

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

Related Materials

Folder, "Beams, Harold W.," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG01.0015.003)

Beams, Harold W. "Oral History Interview." University of Iowa Oral History Project, 25. 49 pp. 1976 (RG01.0006.001)

Lee, Arthur Bolles; Harold W. Beams; J. (James) Bronte 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 (RG99.0195)

Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242