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Francis S. Chafee Barometric Pressure Readings, 1929-1990

Biographical note

Francis H. Chafee was born December 12, 1903 in Providence, Rhode Island, the youngest of the six children of Zechariah and Mary Dexter (Sharpe) Chafee. Like his father, his brothers, and his sister Mary, he attended Brown University, graduating in 1927. In June of 1929, Chafee married Jane Spofford, and they later had three children: Richard in 1933, Mary in 1935, and Nathaniel in 1940. After graduating from Brown, Francis attended Harvard Medical School, receiving his M.D. in 1931. He then moved to New York City for an internship at Presbyterian Hospital from 1931 to 1933.

Chafee returned to Providence in November of 1933 and began his medical practice as a staff member at Rhode Island Hospital. In the late 1930s he began specializing as an allergist and founded the Rhode Island Hospital allergy clinic, acting as its Director from 1938 until 1965. He was also a member of the Brown University Division of University Health from 1935 to 1961, and consulted as an allergist at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Butler Health Center, and Miriam Hospital.

During World War II, Chafee served for three years in Europe as a captain, then major, in the Army Medical Corps. He returned to Providence in 1946, again taking up his medical practice, which he continued until 1975. During his career he published 29 research papers and maintained memberships in many professional associations. He was a Fellow in the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Allergy (for which he served as Vice-president in 1968), the American College of Allergists, and the American Medical Association. He was also a member of the American Federation of Clinical Research and the International Society of Allergists, and served as President of the Providence Medical Association in 1955, and of the New England Society of Allergy and the Rhode Island Society of Allergy from 1970 to 1972.

Chafee was also a member of many clubs and associations in Providence, including the AE, Art, Hope, Review, Shop, and University Clubs, as well as the Rhode Island Historical Society, and the Sneeze, Wheeze, and Itch Club in Boston.

Chafee also had a number of hobbies. He was an amateur astronomer, spending many summer nights outdoors with a telescope. He also collected books, including numerous editions of Nathaniel Bowditch’s Practical Navigator, which he donated to Brown University’s John Carter Brown Library on his retirement. He developed a lifelong interest in sailing when, during his college years, he sailed along the New England coast. Later, he would spend summers at his house in Sorrento, Maine, sailing on Frenchman Bay. He became the first Secretary of the Sorrento Yacht Club, and was a member of the Sorrento-Sullivan Historical Society. Another of his hobbies, recording barometer readings, is the source of the Francis Chafee Barometric Pressure Readings collection.

Francis Chafee died in East Providence on April 24, 1990 at the age of 86.