Frank Y. Chuck papers now available for research
The Frank Y. Chuck papers are now open for research. This collection consists of materials relating to the life and career of Frank Y. Chuck, a noted research chemist and one of Stanford University’s earliest graduates of color. Included are academic transcripts, diplomas, domestic and international patents, professional papers, notebooks, correspondence, photographs that feature Stanford’s Chinese American student community from the 1920s, and an oral history interview transcript. Though the collection materials reference Chuck’s time at Stanford, most of the files concern his research and patents on the dehydration of milk and the treatment of coccidiosis, a parasitic disease that devastated California’s poultry industry in the early half of the 20th century.
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About Frank Y. Chuck
Frank Y. Chuck (1900-1994) was a research chemist who patented a technique for the dehydration of milk and the stabilization of whey through crystallization so they would dissolve easily in liquid, a process that allowed milk products to be shipped overseas during wartime and is still used today in the production of household items such as instant hot cocoa mix and powdered milk.
He also developed an effective treatment for coccidiosis, an avian disease that ravaged California in the 1930s, and was credited with saving the state’s poultry industry at the time. In addition, he began his own research laboratory where he studied the stabilization of vitamins to manufacture vitamin concentrates and other nutritional products for the animal husbandry industry.
For his research and innovations, Dr. Chuck was awarded twenty-seven U.S. patents and ten foreign patents. He was also called in as an expert witness in a Canadian lawsuit involving an infringement on his milk dehydration patents in the 1960s between two large dairy companies.
Frank Y. Chuck, born Faw Yap Chuck, received three degrees in Chemistry from Stanford University: a Bachelor of Arts in 1922, a Degree of Engineer in 1923, and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1925.
During his time at Stanford, he was actively involved with the Chinese Students Club and, after witnessing an instance of prejudice in which a Chinese student was physically thrown out of the Encina Hall dormitory due to his race, assisted with the successful fundraising efforts for the Stanford Chinese Clubhouse, which became the campus residence for students of Chinese descent.
In 1923, he was elected president of the Western Section of the Chinese Student Alliance, a national organization, and served in this role through 1924. As president, he convened an annual regional conference held at Stanford for all Chinese students studying at American universities west of Chicago.
After graduating with his doctorate, he did postgraduate work at Columbia University, then received a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship to teach organic chemistry abroad at Ling Nan University in China. One of the students he met during his time at Ling Nan was Mao Tse-tung.
When his fellowship ended in 1927, Dr. Chuck returned to the United States and embarked on a career in industry as a research chemist, first working for Western Condensing Company, where he developed his process for dehydrating milk products, then for Anderson-Smith Milling Co., where he developed his treatment for the avian disease coccidiosis. In 1950, he branched out on his own by starting his company, Fla-Pana Research Laboratories, which specialized in the manufacture of nutritional supplements for livestock.
He was also a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus, a national Catholic men’s organization, and in 1954 was the first minority to be elected as California’s State Deputy. In this role, he founded the Columbian Charities, a still-running organization that assists fellow Knights and their families in need.
Once he retired from research, he formed his own real estate company called Frank Chuck Realty, located in Palo Alto. Chuck retired for a second time at the age of 90 in 1990.
Throughout his life, Frank Y. Chuck persevered in navigating and succeeding against the challenges of living and working as a Chinese American and person of color during a time when overt racial discrimination and prejudice were part of daily life. Among his numerous awards and citations, Dr. Chuck received the Stanford Asian/Pacific American Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1992 for his many positive contributions.
Chuck passed away in 1994 at the age of 94. In 1995, he became the first inductee to the Stanford Multicultural Hall of Fame.
His daughter Dr. Bernadine Chuck Fong, also a Stanford graduate and former president of Foothill College, became a Trustee of Stanford University in 1987. She generously donated the Frank Y. Chuck papers in 2020.
The Stanford University Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to content in any format that documents the history of the university, in support of teaching, learning, and research at Stanford and beyond. Through the All Stanford Initiative, the University Archives strives to improve documentation of communities of color, gender diversity, the queer community, people with disabilities, and activists. Please contact us if you would like to discuss sharing your materials with us, or if you have any questions about using the collections.
[Oral history interview transcript, 1985] Frank Y. Chuck papers (SC1550). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
[Biography prepared by Bernadine Chuck Fong, 2020] Frank Y. Chuck papers (SC1550). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.