Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Henderson, Lawrence Joseph (United States 1878-1942)
biochemistry, physiology

Harvard University Archives, HUP Henderson, L.J. (2)

Henderson was a man of many talents, excelling as a chemist, biologist, physiologist, sociologist, and philosopher. From his early direction as a chemist he moved into physiology and biochemistry, along the way developing a philosophically holistic perspective which featured his thoughts on "fitness": the notion that the inorganic environment supplied certain elements that lent themselves to the nourishment of physiochemical processes. These ideas were summarized in his most influential book, The Fitness of the Environment. Much of Henderson's most important research dwelled on the acid-base equilibrium of the body (c1906-1920), and the biochemistry of blood (c1920-1932). Late in his career he was introduced to Vilfredo Pareto's concept of the society as a system in dynamic equilibrium, and was influential in furthering the development of that concept. Henderson spent nearly his entire professional life associated with Harvard University.

Life Chronology

--born in Lynn, Massachusetts, on 3 June 1878.
--1898: A.B. magna cum laude, Harvard College
--1902: M.D. cum laude, Harvard Medical School
--1902-1904: post-graduate work, University of Strassburg
--1904-1905: lecturer in biological chemistry, Harvard Medical School
--1905-1910: instructor, Harvard Medical School
--1910-1919: assistant professor, Harvard College
--1913: publishes his The Fitness of the Environment
--1917: publishes his The Order of Nature
--1919: advanced to professor at Harvard
--1919: made a member of the National Academy of Sciences; its foreign secretary 1936-1942
--1920: founds the laboratory of physical chemistry at Harvard Medical School
--1924-1925: a founder and first president of the History of Science Society
--1927: creates the Fatigue Laboratory at Harvard
--1928: delivers the Silliman lectures at Yale University; Leyden lecturer at the University of Berlin
--1928: publishes his Blood: A Study in General Physiology
--1933: one of the co-founders of the Society of Fellows at Harvard
--1934: honorary Sc.D., University of Cambridge; honorary doctorate, University of Grenoble
--1935: publishes his Pareto's General Sociology: A Physiologist's Interpretation
--dies at Boston, Massachusetts, on 10 February 1942.

For Additional Information, See:

--Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.), Vol. 23 (1943).
--American National Biography, Vol. 10 (1999).
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 6 (1972).
--Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement Three (1973).
--Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 198(12) (1966): 1304-1306.
--Science, Vol. 95(2465) (1942): 316-318.
--Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 4(1) (1971): 63-113.
--Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 29(2) (1996): 155-196.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

Return to Home/Alphabetical Listing by Name
Return to Listing by Country
Return to Listing by Discipline