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Paul Webb Collection

Identifier: MS-426

Scope and Content

The Paul Webb Collection consists of records accumulated by Dr. Paul Webb between the years 1953 and 1993. It is arranged in five series and six subseries. The bulk of the collection consists of the records of Dr. Webb's research firm, Webb Associates, relating to three major calorimetry studies the company conducted for the Air Force, the Office of Naval Research, and the U. S. Department of Agriculture, as well as several smaller projects. These studies measure the amount of body heat given off by a subject, i.e. the energy used, and how it was affected by different variables. The collection also includes correspondence relating to these studies, publications by Dr. Webb, and several suits either used or designed by Webb.

Series I, Experiment Data and Notes, consists of records and information accumulated by Webb Associates during the course of three major contracted studies, as well as scattered data from miscellaneous experiments and work undertaken by Webb and his company. It is divided into four subseries based on the entity that contracted the study.

Subseries IA, Office of Naval Research (ONR) Studies, contains data and experiment summaries for body heat loss studies Webb performed from 1972 to 1982. Dr. Webb describes these studies in Chapter 5 of Human Calorimeters.

Subseries IB, Air Force Sleep Loss Study (AFSL), contains data, as well as the project contract, for a sleep loss study Webb performed in 1978-1979. The data includes graphs, food diaries and printouts for several subjects, both male and female. The variables in these tests are sleep and diet. Progress reports and correspondence for the Navy and Air Force studies can be found in Series II.

Subseries IC, USDA Study (USDA), contains notes and data from calorimetry experiments undertaken by Webb Associates for the USDA. The purpose of the experiments was to examine the effect of different diets on energy use. There were two distinct studies, "Overeating" and "Undereating," carried out from the summer of 1979 to the summer of 1981. Each study was divided into phases based on types of diet, caloric intake, and activity level. The subseries is organized with analyses of food and menu information first, followed by experiment data mostly in the form of graphs of energy expenditure, weight records, and analyses of waste matter, and experiment logs containing hour-by-hour activities, events, and equipment readings. Dr. Webb describes these experiments in Chapter 5 of Human Calorimeters.

Subseries ID, Other Projects, contains data and notes from various smaller projects undertaken by Webb and his company between 1967 and 1984. Projects include a study called CALDEP performed in Paris in 1983, comparing energy use of Asian men to that of American men; tests of a "thermistor harness," a device for measuring temperatures at various points on the body simultaneously; two relatively large but incompletely documented calorimetry studies labeled "AF" and "MSC" Calorimetry. This subseries also contains miscellaneous notes on elements of Webb's research, such as nutritional value of foods, methods of testing certain variables, and equipment used.

Series II, Research Correspondence, is a small series containing correspondence between Paul Webb and several research associates. There is correspondence with individuals in America and Europe. Project correspondence, contracts, and reports for Paul Webb's studies with the Navy and Air Force are also in the series. The series covers the years 1970 to 1993.

Series III, Articles and Publications, consists of published articles by Paul Webb. They cover a date range of 1953 - 1995. There is a draft of Webb's book, Human Calorimeters and preliminary artwork for this title. The book references some of the studies documented in Series I. Correspondence between Webb and his publisher, Praeger Scientific, can be found in Series II.

Series IV, Computer Data Cartridges, contains data collected and programs used in some of the experiments in Series I, including the USDA, ONR, and Air Force studies, as well as data from several smaller studies not documented elsewhere in the collection. It also contains test and calibration programs. The cartridges were probably used with a Hewlett-Packard 9825, an early desktop computer released in 1976, which Webb mentions in his notes for the USDA study. The same or a similar model would be required to read the data on these cartridges.

Series V, Suits, is broken up into two sub-series.

Subseries VA, Vari-Temp Suits, consists of Webb's Vari-temp suits, as well as photographs and specifications for the Vari-temp suits and correspondence between Webb and ILC Dover, the company that manufactured them. There are three suits, two with tubing still attached. These were part of Webb's suit calorimeters, which were used in some of his experiments. They were the water-cooled undergarments. Images of this undergarment, as well as the full suit calorimeter, can be seen in the artwork for Webb's book, Human Calorimeters, located in Series III.

Subseries VB, Unfinished Suits and Materials, consists of what may be prototype suits. Some of the garments seem to be finished while others are in pieces or pinned together and unfinished. The manufacturer of these suits is Jobst, of Toledo, OH.


  • Creation: 1953-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1972-1984


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biography of Paul Webb

Dr. Paul Webb is a research scientist and consultant who has done extensive research in aerospace and undersea medicine. He received his M.D. from the University of Virginia in 1943, and his MS in physiology from the University of Washington in 1951. He served in the U. S. Army from 1948 to 1950, and worked at the Air Force Aeromedical Laboratory from 1954 to 1958. In 1959 he founded Webb Associates, a research company in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Webb Associates performed several major studies for the United States Department of Agriculture, the Office of Naval Research, and the Air Force. While conducting research for the Office of Naval Research Webb developed an interest in protective clothing for dangerous environments, and with support from NASA began to work on an elastic space activity suit which reduced the physical energy cost to the wearer.

During this period Webb also designed and built his own suit calorimeter, a device for measuring the heat given off by the human body. Webb's calorimeter design emerged from his study of the kind of device used to cool astronauts while they were moving around outside their spacecraft. Webb's calorimeter consisted of a water-cooled undergarment worn next to the skin, three layers of insulating garments to isolate the subject's body and the undergarment from the surrounding environment, a "water loop" to control the flow and temperature of water through the undergarment, and an array of equipment, including an early computer, to test and control experiment variables. By monitoring the temperature of water passing out of the undergarment the calorimeter could measure the heat given off by the subject (i.e., the energy used). The suit could also be used to manipulate the subject's body temperature, as Webb did during his study of body heat loss for the Navy. Suit calorimeters like Webb's are the smallest variety of these machines - other versions are compartments or small rooms in which the subject remains alone for extended periods of time. Tests using Webb's suit calorimeter were performed in a special temperature-controlled apartment, and the subject was attached to an "umbilical cord" containing the calorimeter's various cords and tubes, but otherwise could engage in (relatively) normal activities and social interaction.

Webb closed his lab in 1982 and moved to France with his calorimeter for a short time to perform experiments at Hopital Bichat in Paris. From 1984 to 1988 he was employed by companies and universities in Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden. During this period he completed the book Human Calorimeters, which was published in 1985. Since 1993 Dr. Webb has served various academic appointments at Andrews University in Dayton, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wollongong in Australia, and he has worked for Honeywell International, a diversified technology company in Torrance, California.

Dr. Webb is the recipient of many awards for his work, including the AILSA award from the Aerospace Industrial Life Sciences Association, and the Fritz J. Russ Award in bioengineering. He is also a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Aerospace Medical Association. Dr. Webb is currently Clinical Professor of Community Health (Aerospace Medicine) and Research Professor of Biomedical, Industrial and Human Factors Engineering at Wright State University. He is also a member of the team of experts at the Webb Elastic Garment Group, a company which is still developing Webb's Space Activity Suit design. The Group's website is at


21.2 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Paul Webb Collection consists of records and files accumulated by the research firm Webb Associates during the course of experiments in human physiology and calorimetry between 1972 and 1984, as well as articles, book drafts, and other publications on similar topics, written by or citing Dr. Paul Webb. The collection also contains several Vari-Temp suits which were part of a calorimeter designed and used by Dr. Webb, as well as prototype space activity suits also designed by Webb.

Statement of Arrangement

The Paul Webb Collection is arranged in five series and six subseries

  1. Series I: Experiment Data and Notes
  2. Subseries IA: Office of Naval Research Studies, 1972-1982
  3. Subseries IB: Air Force Sleep Loss Study, 1976-1979
  4. Subseries IC: USDA Study, 1979-1981
  5. Subseries ID: Other Projects, 1971-1984
  6. Series II: Research Correspondence
  7. Series III: Articles/Publications
  8. Series IV: Computer Data Cartridges
  9. Series V: Suits/Materials/Equipment
  10. Subseries VA: Vari-Temp Suits
  11. Subseries VB: Unfinished Suits and Materials

Technical Requirements

The cartridges in Series IV may have been used with a Hewlett-Packard 9825, since Webb refers to this model of computer in his USDA notes. Since the HP 9825 has not been in wide use for roughly 25 years, it will likely be difficult to find a working model to read these cartridges. Some cartridges were accompanied by printout tapes; however, some of the tapes are too faded to read, and the reader would need to be familiar with the type of experiment being undertaken and the computer program which produced the tapes in order to understand them.

Acquisition Information

Materials were donated to Special Collections and Archives by Paul Webb in 2001.


Human Calorimeters (Endocrinology and Metabolism Series, Volume 7). Webb, Dr. Paul; New York: Praeger Publishers, 1985.
Guide to the Paul Webb Collection (MS-426)
Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Stanze and Kasey Eichensehr, March 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA