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Avanelle "Nell" Kirksey papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 502
The Avanelle (Nell) Kirksey papers (1943-2012; 7.8 cubic feet) document the life and career of Dr. Avanelle Kirksey, a prominent researcher in maternal and infant nutrition. The collection reflects the impact of Kirksey as an educator and researcher, as well as the continued significance of her research on maternal and infant nutrition. The coverage of her work in Egypt and on vitamin B6 is particularly strong. Additionally, the collection is an indication of Kirksey’s ongoing legacy via the research of her graduate students. These materials could be useful to researchers interested in Kirksey’s career, the NCRSP projects, Vitamin B6 research, maternal and infant nutrition, early studies in lactation and breast milk composition, mixed methods and interdisciplinary research in the health and nutrition field, and women in higher education. Types of materials include: papers, publications, correspondence, clippings, photographs, and artifacts, etc. The collection is organized into three series.

Dates

  • 1943 - 2012
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1975 - 1995

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. 24 hours' notice is requested to access the collection.

Conditions Governing Use

All rights belong to Purdue University per deed of gift.

Extent

7.80 Cubic Feet

20 boxes other_unmapped

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Abstract

The collection documents the life and career of Dr. Avanelle Kirksey, a prominent researcher and educator  in the area of maternal and infant nutrition.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dr. Avanelle (Nell) Kirksey (1926-2016) was born in Mulberry, Arkansas to Odell and Blanche Kirksey. She had two brothers, Ozell (who was killed during WWII) and Joe, a prominent figure in the soybean industry. Her father, Dr. Odell Kirksey, was a noted obstetrician and opened Arkansas/ first maternity hospital (the Kirksey Maternity Hospital) where he is estimated to have delivered 4700 babies over the years. Although she was discouraged from practicing medicine, it is likely that Avanelle’s later research interests took some inspiration from her father’s work. Kirksey received her B.S. in 1947 from the University of Arkansas, with a major in Home Economics and minors in chemistry and biology. Her M.S. in home economics and dietetics was attained in 1950 from the University of Tennessee. Finally, she received her PhD from Pennsylvania State University in 1961 in the field of Nutrition and biochemistry. Her work at Penn State was supervised by Dr. Ruth Pike whose research focused on Vitamin B6, which was another contributing factor to the trajectory of Kirksey’s research. During the course of her postsecondary education, Kirksey taught at a handful of institutions before accepting her position at Purdue University upon the completion of her PhD work. Kirksey’s work in the area of maternal and infant nutrition has left a lasting impact, both directly and through the ongoing legacy of the many graduate students she mentored. Much of her work focused on the role of Vitamin B6 in maternal health and infant development, as well as the impact of mild to moderate malnutrition. Kirksey is perhaps best known for her involvement in and oversight of the multi-institutional Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Program which examined malnutrition in Egypt, Kenya, and Mexico. Kirksey was also involved in a large scale project designed to develop nutrition education programs in Indonesian colleges. Her work is credited with providing a better overall understanding of the role of micronutrients in maternal and infant health and nutrition. Kirksey was the recipient of numerous awards and honors over the course of career. She was awarded the title of Meredith Distinguished Professor of Foods and Nutrition during her tenure at Purdue (1961-1994). She was the second woman at Purdue to be awarded a distinguished professorship. Purdue also honored Kirksey’s research by awarding her an Honorary Doctorate. Additionally, Kirksey was a distinguished Alumna at both the University of Arkansas and Penn State. Other awards and honors of note were the Borden Award (1980), the Lederle Award (1994), and her designation as a Fellow of the American Institute of Nutrition (1994). Upon her retirement in 1994, the annual Avanelle Kirksey Lecture Series was established to honor Kirksey’s lasting contributions.

Note written by Virginia Pleasant

Arrangement Note

1.  Personal papers, 1943-2012 (1.2 cubic feet).  This series provides some insight into Kirksey’s personal and family life. It includes many pictures of her travels, miscellaneous clippings, correspondence, materials related to her retirement and the construction of her house, and college transcripts. Materials in the series are arranged chronologically by type. 2.  Professional papers, 1943-2007 (4.6 cubic feet). This series includes material related to Kirksey’s career in nutrition research and higher education. It provides insight into her role as an instructor and mentor, the impact and scope of her research, major presentations and publications, and the numerous awards with which she was honored over the years. Also included in the series are course materials from various courses that Kirksey taught (particularly Foods and Nutrition 525 and 601). These materials include course outlines, notes, lectures and presentations, and readings. This portion of the series provides insight into Kirksey’s approach to instruction. Materials in the series are arranged chronologically by type. 3.  Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Programs (NCRSP) papers, 1972-2001 (2 cubic feet). This series includes material relevant to Kirksey’s work with and oversight of the Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Programs. Materials included cover the maternal, infant, and child nutrition study in Egypt, Kenya, and Mexico, as well as a later proposed project on cowpeas in Costa Rica. The series is particularly strong in its coverage of the Egypt segment of research (likely because of Kirksey’s direct involvement in data collection there). Materials in the series are arranged chronologically by type.

Source of Acquisition

Myron Kirksey and Monica Freeland. Date acquired: 02/10/2018
Method of Acquisition Donation

Accruals and Additions

Addition 1, Donated November 7, 2016 by Myron Kirksey and Monica Freeland

Existence and Location of Originals

multi-part note content

Related Materials

UA 15, College of Health and Human Sciences records

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained.  All materials have been placed in archival sleeves, folders, and boxes, and metal fasteners have been removed. All newsprint has been photocopied and in most cases original newspaper clippings have been discarded. Some clippings containing images of people or color graphics, or front pages of newspapers, have been preserved for display purposes. In many cases, Kirksey’s original folder labels have been retained, original labels are indicated by the presence of brackets in the detailed inventory and on folders. Widely available books and the dissertations of Kirksey’s students have been separated from the collection; dissertations are now housed separately with the Purdue dissertation collection. Duplicate material in all forms (i.e. slides, photocopies, etc.) has been separated from the collection to better facilitate ease of research.
Title
Avanelle "Nell" Kirksey papers
Status
in_progress
Author
Virginia Pleasant
Date
11/05/2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

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