Horace Willard Davenport

34th APS President (1961-1962)
Horace Willard Davenport
(1912- 2005)

Horace Willard Davenport became thirty-fourth president in July 1961 after service on Council for five years (1951-55 and 1959-60). Elected to membership in 1942, he had previously served on the Central Committee for the Survey of Physiology (1952-56), the Membership Advisory Committee (1951-53), the Committee on Use and Care of Animals (1952-59), the Porter Fellowship Committee (1952-56), the Education Committee (1958-59), and the Committee on Matters Related to Loyalty (1953-54). Subsequent to his presidency Davenport has been on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Physiology and the Journal of Applied Physiology (1961-67), the Senior Physiologists Committee (1978-81), the Centennial Celebration Committee (1978-80), and the Honorary Membership Committee (1980-1983). (For one who appears to find committee activities onerous, Davenport has certainly put up with a great deal of pain in service to the Society.)

Born in Philadelphia, he received his B.S. (1935) and Ph.D. (1939) degrees from the California Institute of Technology and B.A. (1937) and B.Sc. (1938) degrees from Oxford. After two years of fellowship at Rochester and Yale, he became instructor in physiology at the University of Pennsylvania (1941-42) and Harvard (1943-44). In 1945 he was appointed professor and chairman of physiology at the University of Utah and chairman of the division of Biology in 1948. In 1956 he moved to the University of Michigan as professor and chairman of physiology. He became emeritus as William Beaumont Professor of Physiology in 1978.

Davenport's scientific work has concentrated on gastrointestinal physiology, especially the secretion of HCl by the stomach. In 1947 he authored ABC of Acid-Base Chemistry; a very popular text that went through six editions.

During Davenport's administration, the Society was faced with the complex and stressful job of reorganization brought on by the demise of its Board of Publication Trustees. This required complete restructuring of the finances of the Society, new contracts with those involved in the publication operation, and implementation of the new committee structure (Publications and Finance Committees). Also during Davenport's presidency, the Journal of Neurophysiology was purchased, a move that had been considered before but without success and that required delicate negotiations.

In recent years, especially since becoming emeritus, Davenport has directed his activities toward the history of physiology and medicine. He is a painstaking and demanding student of history who has made numerous contributions of professional quality in the field. Recently a number of historical papers drawn from the lectures given to students have appeared in The Physiologist. At the request of the Centennial Celebration Committee, he prepared an article on how to write a departmental history, and his supplement to The Physiologist, "Physiology, 1950-1923: the view from Michigan" (4), has provided a model for other departmental historians.

Few members of APS have made contributions to the Society covering such a broad range of interests as has Horace Davenport.

Selected Publications

1. Davenport, H. W. Human voices. Past president's address. Physiologist 5: 265-269, 1962.

2. Davenport, H. W. A. N. Richards; or, why I don't have an M.D. Physiologist 21(6): 25-30, 1978.

3. Davenport, H. W. Some notes on preparing a history of a department of physiology. Physiologist 22(1): 30-31, 1979.

4. Davenport, H. W. Physiology, 1850-1923: the view from Michigan. Physiologist Suppl. 24(1), 1982.

5. Davenport, H. W. The apology of a second-class man. Annu. Rev. Physiol. 47: 1-14, 1985.

6. Fenn, W. O. History of the American Physiological Society: The Third Quarter Century, 1937-1962. Washington, DC: Am. Physiol. Soc., 1963, p. 51-53.