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Special Collections in the History of Medicine

David F. Opdyke, Ph. D.
Papers, 1943-1979
A Guide to the Collection

December 1982; Revised 2003

Table Of Contents

Opdyke, David F., PhD, 1997

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Biographical Sketch

David F. Opdyke was born in Montpelier, Ohio, in 1915. He attended Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio and received his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1937. For the next two years he was a graduate assistant in the Department of Zoology at Indiana University, working under Professor of Biology, Ira Wilson. His graduate study was in endocrinology. He was also working in the Original Research Division, Dept. of Fish and Game of the Indiana Conservation Commission. It was Dr. Ira Wilson who persuaded the young Opdyke to try another field of study, such as biology, so that he would have two areas of expertise. From 1939-1942, Dr. Opdyke was research associate of Dr. Oscar Riddle at Carnegie Institution of Washington, Cold Spring Harbor, and Long Island, New York.

In 1942 Dr. Opdyke received his Ph. D. degree from Indiana University, and during 1943, he served as Instructor in the Department of Physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine. The following year he became an Instructor at Western Reserve, spending half time teaching and half time research on war problems.

Between 1947-1951, Dr. Opdyke worked in the Physiology Department under Dr. C. J. Wiggers, a cardiovascular physiologist. By the time he left Western Reserve in1952, he was an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the department. Later that year, he accepted the position as head of the Department of Physiology at the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research in Rahway, NJ. He also accepted an appointment as Consultant Physiologist for the City of New York, Department of Hospitals.

He preferred teaching, however, and on February 1, 1956 he left Merck and became a professor and chairman of the Physiology Department of the new Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry. It was the first faculty appointment made by the new College. He accepted the position at Seton Hall because it was a new school and he hoped to be able to influence the curriculum, since he was always interested in curriculum revision.

His assignments included not only planning and recruiting for the Physiology Department, but for the College as a whole. From February to September 1956, he assisted in the preparation of the physical facilities in the Basic Sciences Building, planned the curriculum and recruited a staff for his department. At the same time, he also acted as Admission Officer and Assistant Dean in charge of Student Affairs.

In July 1961, Dr. Opdyke had a chance to use this extensive organizational experience. He was invited by the Indonesian medical community to reorganize the Department of Physiology in the Medical School in Surabaju, Indonesia. For approximately eighteen months, he worked on this project of modeling the Indonesia medical school curriculum after that in this country.

During the summers and during sabbaticals, Dr. Opdyke did radiation studies at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee Institute of Nuclear Studies, and work on hypertension and the shark's low blood pressure at the Biology Lab in Bar Harbor, Maine.

In 1979, he resigned his post as chairman of the Physiology Department and in 1981 Dr. Opdyke retired from the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, after being with the College through twenty-five years of change.

For recreation, he participated in the Explorers Club in New York City, was a member of the Westfield Barber Shop Quartet, and enjoyed photography and wood carving.

Scope and Content Notes

The David F. Opdyke Papers spans the years from 1943-1979 and consists of nine series. The collection occupies one linear foot.

Dr. Opdyke donated the collection upon his retirement from the College of Medicine and Dentistry in December 1981. The collection includes correspondence, memorandum, reports, documents from the period of the Seton Hall School of Medicine, speeches, publications, and photographs and slides.

The collection is very issue oriented, and shows the changes and growth of the College throughout its history. Dr. Opdyke started as a chairman of a department and served as Admission Officer right from the beginning of the Seton Hall School of Medicine. He became involved and continued to be involved in the current issues of the day, such as, academic standards, open policy for minority students, and curriculum changes. He was especially interested in curriculum change, and in 1967, he wrote a Curriculum Proposal for the entire medical school (FC/2-C). The Proposal was never accepted.

The collection also includes a series of 108 slides (FC/2-H-3) taken by Dr. Opdyke of the Seton Hall College of Medicine, New Jersey College of Medicine, and the Jersey City Medical Center. They include slides of the buildings, labs, faculty and staff, students, and graduation exercises, and create a visual history of the early days and beginning of the present University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

An Oral History interview of Dr. Opdyke was completed in 1982 and the transcript is in Special Collections.

Series Description

Series A: Correspondence, 1943-1978 1970-1976


Contains both personal and professional correspondence from 1943-1978 with the bulk of the material covering 1970-1976. The material is arranged in chronological order and covers Dr. Opdyke's early career through 1978.

Series B: Memorandum, 1970-1979 1974-1976


Contains memorandum from 1970-1979. The documents are arranged in chronological order. The majority of the material deals with student power issues, affirmative action and academic standards, the John Brown affair, and the boycott of the dedication ceremonies of the Newark campus.

Series C: Reports, 1967-1974


1. Curriculum Proposal for Medical School, 1967 (prepared by Dr. Opdyke)
2. Department Reports and Documents, 1956-1971

Contains various reports, memorandum, and other documents covering the working and running of the Physiology Department form 1956-1971. The material is arranged in chronological order.

3. The Kahn Salary Controversy Papers, 1967, 1971-1974

Contains documents, memorandum and statements from Dr. Opdyke's personal file on the salary controversy surrounding Dr. Kahn.

Series D: Speeches 1960-1962 1976-1979


Contains speeches made on campus and off from 1976 to 1979. These include speeches to students, medical societies, faculty meetings and a sermon. They are arranged in chronological order.

Series E: New Jersey Medical School Documents, 1954-1969


Contains copies of documents form 1954 to 1969 on the founding and early years of the Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry in Jersey City. The documents include the Agreement of Lease, 1954; the Affiliation Agreement, 1963; Special Report to the President of Seton Hall University; and a statement by George F. Smith, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, 1969, on the added costs of taking over Martland Hospital.

Series F: Publications, 1963-1964


1. By-laws of the Jersey City Medical Center Medical-Dental staff, 1963
2. Report of the Seton Hall Fact Finding Committee, 1964
3. Reprint from the March issue of the Alumni Bulletin, School of Medicine and Affiliated Hospitals, Western Reserve University, n.d.

Series G: Award 1974


Award granted to Dr. Opdyke in 1974, making him an honorary member of Omicron Kappa Epsilon (Dental Honorary Society), Omega Omega Chapter.

Series H: Media


1. Newspaper Clippings from three newspapers: The Daily Journal (Elizabeth, NJ) Jan. 31, 1973 on Dr. Opdyke's career; the Boston Sunday Globe, May 16, 1976 on the Harvard Medical School and minorities; and the Evening News (Newark, NJ) not dated, on the end of the New Jersey College Medicine and Dentistry boycott.
2. Photographs: Contains a photograph of Dr. Opdyke as a member of the high school class of 1993 taken at a class reunion, n.d.; negatives of Admission Committee members, probably from Seton Hall College of Medicine; and photographs taken of Dr. Opdyke as a faculty member for the new Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry Year Book, n.d.
3. Slides: Contains two sets of slides taken by Dr. Opdyke. The first set consists of 38 slides taken in 1960 of seven different college campuses. The second set of slides consists of 108 slides taken of the Seton Hall College of Medicine and the Jersey City Medical Center in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They are categorized here into twelve sub-division listed alphabetically for the benefit of the researcher. The slides are numbered and filed sequentially from 1-108 with the subject of the slides in no particular order.

A. City Views
#1Looking north from the 14th floor of the Basic Science Buildings. Lower right-Baldwin Avenue. Upper left-Journal Square, Jersey City.
#3New York City skyline. Taken from14th floor Basic Science Building, Seton Hall College of Medicine (SHCM).
#90View of Jersey City looking towards Journal Square form 14th floor of Basic Science Building. SHCM
#92New York City skyline form Jersey Central RR ferry slip. Many students and faculty members used the JCRR. A bus ran from ferry to the Jersey City Medical Center and SHCM.
#93See #92


B. Faculty
#6Admission Committee Meeting, 1958-1959. Left, Dr. Bernard Briody, Microbiology; center, Dr. Jeghers, Medicine; right, Dr. Nenno, Psychiatry.
#10Dr. J. Buelock, 1961, Research Asst. (later a faculty member) Dept. of Physiology.
#12Dr. Richard Mason, 1957, Asst. Professor, later Asst. Dean, Rutgers Medical School.
#17Dr. Mason in Physiology dog lab.
#19Dr. Charles Smith, standing, one of the original members of the Physiology Staff. Others were: Dr. A. J. Kahn, R.C. Mason, F. Sterbenz, and David Opdyke, chairman.
#20Dr. Opdyke, senior faculty member leading the academic procession.
#24Paul Hutcheon, R. Kushnick
#25Briody, Bonnycastle
#34Dr. Burke. Biochemistry
#35Dr. Calabro, Dr. Jeghers
#36Dr. Grosser, Medicine
#37Dr. Charles Smith, standing
#38-39not identified


C. Graduation
#20Dr. Opdyke, senior faculty member leading the academic procession.
#21-23not identified
#24Paul, Hutcheon, Kushnick
#25Briody, Bonnycastle
#26not identified
#60-66Graduation 1965-First class to graduate after state took over.


D. Historic Series
#44-50Development of Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC).


E. Hospital Scenes
#79Surgery, JCMC. Team unknown
#96Reception desk, Pollock Hospital, JCMC
#99Clinical chem. Lab, Pollock Hospital. Individuals unknown
#97Record room, Pollock Hospital, Individuals unknown
#100Operating team, JCMC, Dept. Surgery, SHCMD
#101See #100
#102Cardiology, JCMC
#103Pediatric Ward, JCMC
#105Surgery, JCMC. Nurse's name unknown.
#106Anesthesiology, JCMC
#107X-Ray conference, JCMC, Participants unknown
#108Patient care, JCMC.


F. Labs
Biochemistry Labs
#74Dr. Williams Burke's lab, Biochemistry. Technician unknown
#75Students Biochemistry Lab, Seton Hall College of Medicine & Dentistry (SHCMD).
#80Scene in Biochemistry Lab, SHCMD.
#87Biochemistry Research lab, SHCMD.
Clinical Chemistry Labs
#67Clinical Chem. Lab, JCMC. Person unknown.
#104Clinical Chem. Lab, JCMC. Technicians name unknown.
Gross Anatomy Lab
#68Original Gross Anatomy Lab, SHCMD, 10th floor.
Microbiology Lab
#72Student lab, Microbiology. Capacity 80 students.
Pharmacology Lab
#71Pharmacology Lab. Capacity 80 students.
Physiology Lab
#131957 students in Physiology Lab
#15Physiology Students Laboratory, 14th floor, Basic Science Buildings, SHCMD. Capacity 80 students.
#16Physiology Lab students
#17Dr. Mason in Physiology Dog Lab
#18Anthony Armino, Class of '62 and J. Morrow, Research Assistant, Physiology Lab
#70Patients were brought into the Physiology Lab as a part of the course.
#86Dr. Opdyke's first research lab, 14th floor, Basic Science Building, SHCMD, Physiology Dept.
#88Students working in Physiology Laboratory (Dog Lab).
#77Utility and electrical lab services station, Physiology Lab. Each station served 8 students.




H. Medical Buildings
#2JCMC taken from NW corner of Montgomery St. & Baldwin Ave. Main entrance on Baldwin Ave.
#4Building right was the Basic Science Building, 16 floors. Building on the left was Medical Building and main entrance, Jersey City Medical Center (Baldwin Ave.)
#5Main entrance, Basic Science Building, SHCMD, ca. 1957-1958
#51-55Present day JCMC
#91Entrance to Pollock Hospital, JCMC.


I. Medical Equipment
#73Bicycle ergo meter, constructed by Dr. Charles Smith and Robert Sniffen in the Physiology Shop. Original student lab equipment, SHCMD.
#76Centralized timing and recording controls, student Physiology Lab. Designed, built and installed by Robert Sniffen.
#82Student laboratory central timer. Designed and Constructed by Robert Sniffen in Physiology Instrument Shop.
#83Special blood withdrawal pump designed for Dr. Opdyke's research by Robert Sniffen built in the Physiology Instrument Shop.
#84Special electronically controlled dye injection pump designed and constructed for Dr. Opdyke's research by Robert Sniffen in the Physiology Instrument Shop.
#85Central student laboratory timer designed, constructed and installed by Robert Sniffen, Physiology Instrument Shop.


J. Miscellaneous
#56-59Curriculum Retreat, Buck Hill, Pa. June 1968
#69Brain model. Each student was required to construct one in neuroanatomy.
#89Dental School, Surgical chair.


K. Rooms
#81Physiology stock room. Tom Anderson, Technician
#95Autopsy room, JCMC, SHCMD.
#97Records room, Pollock Hospital. Individual unknown.


L. Staff
#7Joan Farley, First Registrar, SHCMD.
#9J. J. Corbett, first animal care taker, Jersey City 15-16th floors, Basic Science Building. SHCMD.
#11Mrs. Chris Hammerle, 1959, secretary of Dept. of Physiology.
#18Anthony Armino, Class of '62 and J. Morrow, Research Assistants, Physiology Lab
#40Joan Farley (Carroll) seated. Carol Snodyk, standing.
#41Registrar office, SHCMD, Admission Office.
#42Carol Snodyk, Asst. Registrar.
#43Jo Curly, Manager Bookstore.
#78First Bookstore, SHCMD, Mrs. Jo Curly, first manager.
#94Dental School Technician. Name unknown
#98Technician (name unknown) in Pathology.


M. Students
#8First Anatomy Class, Class of 1960.
#131957 students in Physiology Lab.
#27Elizabeth Alger, (now Dr. Alger) Mr. Boccabella, Professor of Anatomy, Medicine.
#28-33not identified
#88Students working in Physiology Laboratory (Dog Lab)

Series I: Twenty-fifth Anniversary Material Collection


The Committee of the Executive Council requested Dr. Opdyke to assemble some nostalgia and reminiscences of the early days of Seton Hall College of Medicine in commemoration of its 25th anniversary, as parent institution of the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Dr. Opdyke asked all the faculty members who were on the roster prior to 1970 and still on the faculty to contribute. In addition, he asked selected former students and faculty members. Joseph Boyle III, member of the charter class of 1960; John Bullock, PhD, Associate Professor, Dept. of Physiology; Robert Nenno, MD, first chairman of the Department of Psychiatry; Carroll M. Leevy, MD, Department of Medicine; David F. Opdyke, first faculty member hired; Francis P. Chinard, MD, former chairman of the Department of Medicine, now professor of Experimental Medicine, to contribute material for this collection. The material was never published or used in the anniversary celebration.

[Editor's note: 25th Anniversary Material Collection (Box 1, Fl. 17) was missing from the collection as of 5/31/95.]

For reference service and information contact:

Robert Vietrogoski
Special Collections
(973) 972-7830
FAX (973) 972-7474 Copyright © 2013, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Further Copyright Information)