The Thomas Francis Jr. collections consists of the personal and professional papers of one of the developers of the influenza and poliomyelitis vaccinations. Francis taught epidemiology at the School of Public Health and medical school from 1941 to 1969 and greatly influenced the direction of research in his field.
Important certainly for the study of influenza and poliomyelitis research, the Francis papers also document changes in the way scientific research, particularly medical research, was managed. In his correspondence files, the records from his work in combating influenza and poliomyelitis, and his participation in various professional societies, the researcher will find Francis interacting as a member of a scientific community, working with others, soliciting and exchanging views, and administering, when needed, vast programs of testing.
The Thomas Francis, Jr. papers have been arranged into seven series: General; Correspondence; Poliomyelitis Vaccine Evaluation Center; Organizations; University of Michigan; Speeches, Articles, etc.; Topical Files; and Personal/Biographical. Specific topics covered in the collection are mentioned in the descriptions of individual series. In sum, the collection documents more thoroughly Francis' work since coming to the University of Michigan in 1941. Francis' fame rests upon his research and his heading-up of influenza and poliomyelitis testing programs. For some topics, use of the Francis papers will require of the researcher at least a basic level of knowledge of epidemiology or disease control. Other subjects, such as the administration of research projects and the ways in which information is transmitted within the scientific community are less specialized and capable of being understood by the informed layperson.
Parts of the Francis papers have not yet been completely processed. Most of these subseries pertain to Francis' organizational commitments and to his membership on various boards and commissions. Types of records in these unprocessed subseries consist of minutes of meetings and procedural records. These unprocessed records are indicated on the finding aid along with the bulk size of the subseries.