Caldwells to Hamilton (1940-1960)

A very important chapter in the history of biology at the U of A was contributed by George and Mary Caldwell. Mary took her B.S. and M.S. degrees at the U of A and joined the Biology faculty in 1919 as Instructor. Among her duties was as an assistant to James Greenley Brown in teaching physiology. She was then Mary Estill. In 1920 George Thornhill Caldwell joined the biology department and took responsibility for teaching physiology and histology. In the early 20's Caldwell and Estill were listed as teaching physiology. In the 1927 catalog Caldwell and Estill became Caldwell and Caldwell. Actually they were married in 1925. Both subsequently received Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago. While George retained his interest in physiology and zoology, Mary's interests were in bacteriology and she became head of that department in 1935. Concurrently George served as head of Zoology. Both continued in those capacities until the mid-fifties. George died in 1956 but Mary continued her association with the university, carrying on an active research program until recently on the cancer chemotherapy and anti-tumor properties of certain plant extracts.

I would like to digress from this theme slightly to talk about a pioneer American physiologist who has the additional distinction of having been born and raised in Arizona. William Ferguson Hamilton was born in Tombstone, Arizona on March 8, 1893. This was coincidentally during the first year of operation of out university. His father Isaac Beeson Hamilton, was a mining camp doctor and sometime instructor of anatomy. His mother, Clara Eddy Hamilton, was a journalist in Los Angeles before her marriage. The story is told in Hamilton family circles that after their marriage and move to Tombstone, the young bride was taken by her husband to a local restaurant for dinner. the waiter inquired whether she would like some Arizona strawberries to which she most agreeably assented. He brought her a dish of red kidney beans.

It is said that William Hamilton's father treated the Earp brothers for the after-effects of a social engagement in Tombstone, known as the shoot-out at OK corral, as well as treating other numerous lesser known figures engaged in similar pastimes.

William Hamilton grew up in southern Arizona in various mining camp towns but graduated from high school in Tucson where he was on the varsity football team. He attended Pomona College in Claremont, California and subsequently received the Ph.D. degree in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. He subsequently became Head of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia. He developed a very strong department, was President of the American Physiological Society and designed the seal of the Society. At the time William Hamilton was President of the APS - 1955 - the issue of establishing a medical school was becoming of increasing interest in the State of Arizona, with both Phoenix and Tucson expressing interest. The Board of Regents agreed to a study which strongly advised its location in Tucson because of the maturity and quality of the educational programs in this University.

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