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Fraser Family 1997 accession

Records documenting various members of the Fraser family including:

  • Zahn Family Chronicle and other family history items;
  • William H. Fraser's lecture notes in Spanish 1892-1905;
  • some family correspondence mainly belonging to either Donald T. Fraser and Frieda Fraser including Frieda Fraser's correspondence with her aunt and cousin in Germany;
  • sketches and paintings by Frieda Fraser;
  • family photographs.

Graphic material

This series documents Edith Williams' life, beginning with photoprints of her as a baby, taken probably late in 1900 or 1901, and ending with a colour photoprint of her in old age. In between are numerous black-and-white and several colour photoprints of her at various stages of her life and involved in a variety of activities, including mountain climbing. There are several photoprints of her with Frieda and of Frieda herself. There are also two photoprints of other members of her family as young children, including her elder sister, Betty.


This series begins with a single file of course notes taken by Frieda Fraser while a Form V student at Havergal College in 1915-1916. It is followed by others containing course and laboratory notes for the Physics and Biology section of the undergraduate honours Arts program at University College for second, third, and fourth year (1918-1921).

This is followed by a notebook for a biological project at St. Andrew's, New Brunswick, for the summer of 1921. It also contains a number of sketches that have no relationship to the course.

The series ends with some course and laboratory notes for the Bachelor of Medicine program at the University of Toronto.

Manuscripts, publications, and addresses

Professor Fraser had eleven scientific papers published between 1928 and 1964, though she wrote many reports and some papers that were not published. This series contains offprints of all of her published papers and a draft of one. Also included in this series is a short story she wrote in 1909, at the age of 10; a typescript of her undated "Report of a case of pernicious anemia", and an address, "D.P.T. vaccines" that she delivered on 4 December, 1964.

Research: general files

Beginning in the mid-1920s and even after her retirement in 1965, Dr. Fraser carried on research at the University of Toronto. For the first twenty years, usually with her brother, Donald, her research concentrated on the development of scarlet fever and other antitoxins. This research formed part of ongoing studies of certain aspects of infection and immunity in pneumonia, diphtheria, and scarlet fever, often in conjunction with health departments across Canada. It also involved the testing of products and the monitoring of scarlet fever outbreaks.

As the Second World War began, she started investigating the incidence of agglutinative types of strains of haemolytic streptococcus in a small scarlet fever ward at the Riverdale Isolation Hospital. Through the use of exacting technical procedures, she was able to prove the transfer of agglutinative types from one patient to another in the same ward. She continued work in this field and, in 1941-1942, by examining cultures from 650 people, was able to identify the incidence of particular types of streptococci in various groups of persons. The techniques perfected proved of particular use in studying the outbreak of scarlet fever in Royal Canadian Air Force bases across southern Ontario between 1941 and 1944. In 1942-1943 she worked on the preparation of a combined antigen containing diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, and tannic acid precipitate of scarlet fever toxin.

During the war, her research also included the development of penicillin, especially in relation to the campaign to combat venereal disease. From January,1944, in co-operation with the penicillin committee of the armed forces, she conducted a bacteriological investigation of clinical material from patients treated with penicillin. At the same time she was actively engaged in the investigation of two antibiotics, streptothricin and streptomycin.

After the War Dr. Fraser continued her laboratory and clinical studies in antibiotics. One aspect of her research, between 1946 and 1948, was to test the effectiveness of penicillin in oil and wax in the treatment of gonorrhoea. In 1947, as a member of a team including researchers from the Department of Botany, she spent much of her available time testing a group of new strain of micro-organisms for their activity against selected cultures. A number of new preparations of penicillin designed to prolong its action were also tested on laboratory animals and then on humans, this project extending into 1949. Further refinements in the testing of the effectiveness of penicillin were continued the next year.

In 1948 Dr. Fraser began a major study of antibiotic substances with special reference to tubercle bacillus and gram-negative cocci. A year later she was studying the antibiotic activity of several strains of penicillin against gram-negative bacilli of the enteric group. In 1950 she began another two-year project, studying the toxicity and protective effect of partially purified antibiotic substances isolated from fungi, utilizing
samples of Arctic soil. She also investigated the conditions for the production of antibiotics in deep culture.

In 1952 she began expanding on earlier research by exploring methods for the concentration of antibiotic from one of the strains of penicillin previously studied. The following year she was investigating methods for the electrophoresis on paper strips of vaccinia virus and a strain of bacteriophage, research that continued to be refined over the next several years with particular references to viruses. By 1957 she was beginning chemical tests of the fractions obtained by electrophoresis separation. Simple synthetic media were also developed for the propagation of phage on a non-pathogenic mycobacterium. In the late 1950s and the early 1960s Dr. Fraser's principal research was in a major project on the development of the anti-tuberculosis antigen, compound 377.

The eight boxes in this series contain research notes, background material, correspondence, data, articles and reports. The associated nine boxes of records of laboratory experiments are found in the next series.

The series begins with three boxes (B1995-0044/019-021) of mimeographed and printed articles, and reports, and research notes on areas of interest, especially scarlet fever, tuberculosis, cultures, penicillin, electrophoresis, rheumatic fever, serum sickness, smallpox, spectrophotometry staphylococcus, streptococcus and venereal disease. The arrangement is largely alphabetical by topic.

B1995-0044/022 contains applications for, reports on, and correspondence regarding research grants for the years 1944-1964, on projects such as testing the effectiveness of penicillin, on new antibiotics, the electrophoresis of viruses, and tuberculosis vaccine trials.

B1995-0044/023-/024 contain correspondence, notes, and test results for research on scarlet fever streptococcus toxin production, and papers describing the results. Included are data for tests on rabbits, in schools, isolation hospitals, the Ontario School for the Deaf, orphanages, and students in the Public Health Nursing program at the University of Toronto. Much of this research was carried out at the Connaught Laboratories, and the researchers corresponded with several other research institutes including the Richardson Pathological Laboratory at Queen's University.

B1995-0044/025 contains files on scarlet fever outbreaks amongst the Royal Canadian Air Force and other military personnel in bases across Ontario between 1941 and 1944. There are also more files of correspondence, notes, and reports, primarily from the 1930s and the early 1940s, on the development of scarlet fever antitoxin, on testing the effectiveness of penicillin in oil and wax in the treatment of gonorrhoea, and on the survival of streptococci and staphylococci in various products. The files from the 1950s relate largely to work on bacteria and viruses and to research methodology.

B1995-0044/026 contains the last general research files in this series. The correspondence, data, and reports are associated with the development of compound 377. Sensitivity tests, clinical and drug trials were carried out at the Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton, at the Toronto Hospital for Tuberculosis in Weston, and in London and Woodstock.

Personal and biographical

This series consists of a volume of Longfellow's poetry (last part, including back cover missing), with a bookplate with the coat-of-arms of the Williams family (Sir John Bickerton Williams, Kt., LLD, FSA), a certificate for the family plot in Mount Pleasant Cemetery (1916), a medical certificate for Edith (Bud) Williams from England (1927), and press clippings about her passion for mountain climbing (1962).

Research: Laboratory Reports

Associated with the research files are nine boxes of laboratory notebooks with the results of experiments conducted between 1925 and 1964. The arrangement is chronological, and by notebook number where more than one is used in a project. The earliest results, from 1925 to 1942 (B1995-0044/027-/029), relate largely to scarlet fever antitoxin research, though there are also some for vaccine research beginning in 1935. From 1942 to 1948 (B1995-0044/030-/031) the notebooks contain data for experiments on penicillin absorption, on Griffith cultures, on streptomycin, and the effectiveness of penicillin in the treatment of gonorrhoea.

The remaining notebooks in B1995-0044/031 and the first one in B1995-0044/032 (1948 to 1953) contain data collected for the experiments on the new strains of micro-organisms, on gram-negative cocci experiments. There follows five notebooks of data from experiments carried out between December,1950 and December,1952 on antibiotic strains of fungi, including strains isolated from samples of Arctic soil, and possibly on other projects as well.

The first notebook in B1995-0044/033 contains data from experiments conducted in the first four months of 1953 that are not identified. There follow, in B1995-0044/033-/034, eleven notebooks of data from experiments conducted between May,1953 and March,1958 that are from Dr. Fraser's experiments on methods for the electrophoresis on paper of viruses and a strain of bacteriophage. These notebooks are related to six more containing data on phage experiments, beginning with the last file in B1995-0044/034. They cover the period October,1952 to September,1957. This may be the data that led to the development of simple synthetic media for the propagation of phage on a non-pathogenic mycobacterium.

The last two laboratory notebooks in this series contain later data (April1958-January 1959) on phage experiments, and swabs from Public Health Nursing students taken between 22 January and 3 December,1964.


This series consists of correspondence divided into two distinct parts. Except for a few letters received from family and friends between 1916 and the 1940s, the first part contains letters received by Bud from Frieda between 1924 and 1942, most of which were written before the end of 1927.

The second group of letters and cards is those received just before Bud's first stroke in 1976 and between then and her death in 1979. As Bud was unable to write, Frieda answered them, drafting most replies on the backs of cards and envelopes, which have been retained here. There was an enormous outpouring of support from friends and colleagues, and Bud's eldest sister, Betty, visited regularly.

Administrative and professional records

The first part of this series contains files documenting Frieda's employment at the University of Toronto and her administrative duties, especially in the School of Hygiene. Included are files on the Committee on Antigens (1944-1952); minutes of the councils of the Schools of Hygiene and Nursing (1956-1966); course outlines and curriculum revisions for the School of Hygiene, including annual refresher courses in the 1960s, and the Department of Preventive Medicine (1962-1966); and the Royal Commission on Health Services, for which the School of Hygiene prepared a brief in 1961.

The second part consists of files on professional activities. They document her work with the Canadian Joint Services Penicillin Committee (1944-1947) and the Canadian Association of Medical Bacteriologists (1958). There are also notes and scripts for the "Here's Your Health" and "Science a la Mode" programs on CBC radio in 1946.

Lecture notes

The School of Hygiene played a threefold role in the educational programme of the University by offering instruction in public health subjects to graduates, by providing courses for undergraduates, and by conducting research. For almost forty years Dr. Fraser taught preventive medicine courses for students in the senior course, the diploma in Public Health; in the B.Sc. program in the School of Nursing, and to medical students. In the mid-1950s the School of Hygiene began to move towards a complete programme of diploma courses to cover the needs of physicians and other professional workers in specialized fields. By 1958 these courses were in place and included bacteriology and hospital administration. These changes are reflected in her lectures for this period.

As Dr. Fraser discarded very little, this series provides an overview of the evolution of the courses she taught from 1928 to 1965, and comprehensively from the mid-1940s.

The first three boxes in this series contain the files on her lecture and laboratory courses for the Public Health Nursing students, and the fourth the Bachelor of Science in Nursing courses. Some of the files also contain notes for the B.Sc. and other programs, as Dr Fraser's lectures were related to specific topics such as streptococci and diphtheria. The courses evolved with new material being introduced over the years, and some topics were dropped and others added. There are also files on nurses' skin tests, on tuberculin tests, on a penicillin seminar offered in 1955, and a file on streptococci infections for the diploma in bacteriology course (1959-1965).

The earlier files are largely arranged according to the course outlines. From the late 1950s the lectures are divided into undergraduate and graduate courses and filed accordingly.

Works of Art

Frieda Fraser was an amateur artist who sketched most of her life. While she drew only for herself and her friends, the items in this series, and scattered through her correspondence and notebooks elsewhere, demonstrate more than a little talent. Dr. Fraser had a good eye for form (human, animal, or nature) and the small events in life that amused her. Her letters to Bud are a particularly revealing source of her artistic humour.

The earliest sketch here is one she made as a child on 30 September,1906 and the latest date from 1964. Included are two fine watercolours, untitled but probably of the Go Home Bay area where she often vacationed. Dr. Fraser also experimented with block printing and there are several examples in this series.

Graphic material

This series consists of photoprints, some photonegatives (including nitrate negatives), and slides documenting the activities of the Fraser family over two and more generations. While most of the images document the activities of Frieda and Bud, individually and together, there are numerous images of other members of the family, especially at the cottage at Go Home Bay and, occasionally, in other places such as the mountains of British Columbia. There are also a few images of relatives in Germany and some of colleagues and friends.

This series has not been arranged. Boxes B1995-0044/003 to /010 contain photoprints and negatives, with the occasional slide. Boxes B1995-0044/011 to /014 contain slides.

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