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Professor Irvin M. Borish Papers

Identifier: 1997-001

The papers of Dr. Irvin Borish contain manuscripts, patents, awards and notices, conference proceedings, print items, correspondence, photographs, as well as audio and video recordings. Items in the collection date from 1937 to 1996, with most of the material dating from the late 1970s and 1980s. The majority of the material in the collection contains articles and other manuscript items written by Dr. Borish. However, the collection also contains numerous photographs, most of which are not labeled. Patent information and letters from prominent optometrists and ophthalmologists regarding Clinical Refraction might also be of interest to the researcher.

The University of Houston College of Optometry displays several of Dr. Borish's awards, honorary degrees, certificates, and other memorabilia (including a painting by him).

Dr. Borish's papers are arranged into twelve series: Résumé, Manuscripts, Patents, Awards and Notices, Conferences, Optometric Delegations, Print Items, Correspondence, Scrapbooks, Photographs, Audio Recordings, Video Recordings, and Miscellaneous. Original arrangement has been adhered to where possible. Subject file titles within the various series reflect titles created by Dr. Borish. Material arrangement, other than series arrangement, follows a chronological scheme whenever possible with the exception of the Manuscripts series. Subject files within the Manuscripts series are arranged alphabetically, with items in each subject file chronologically ordered.


  • 1939-2012
  • Majority of material found in 1939-1996


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.


5.00 linear feet

Biographical Information:

Irvin M. Borish was born on January 21, 1913, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son a Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. His father later contracted tuberculosis, forcing the family to move to Liberty, New York, where Borish graduated from Liberty High School. He returned to Philadelphia in 1930 to pursue studies in English literature at Temple University. In 1932 he enrolled in the Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago.

Dr. Borish graduated from Northern Illinois College of Optometry in 1935 and achieved the best academic record in the institution's history. During the same year, the Northern Illinois College of Optometry also appointed him to the position of Instructor on the school's faculty as well as Chief of Staff for the college's Eye Clinic. By 1942, Dr. Borish held the position of Assistant Dean.

In 1944 Borish moved to Kokomo, Indiana, where he started a successful private optometric practice. A heart attack in 1973 forced him to retire from private practice. After recovering, he assumed a full-time faculty position at Indiana University's Optometry School. Between the 1944 and 1973 he actively pursued many endeavors. In 1948 the first of numerous editions of Clinical Refraction, still a standard for optometry students, was published. While in private practice, Borish lobbied for the establishment of an optometry school in Bloomington, Indiana, wrote nearly one hundred articles, delivered numerous lectures, served as a visiting professor to at least nine optometry schools, and patented hard toric and bifocal contact lenses. He also contributed to the by-laws establishing the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, coauthored the original manual of Accreditation used by the Council on Education and Accreditation in Optometry, as well as working on the by-laws of the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association which sets standards for the safe manufacture of contact lenses.

Dr. Borish retired from Indiana University in 1982, at which time he assumed the Benedict Professorship of Optometric Practice at the University of Houston. Since his arrival at the University of Houston, the University of Houston College of Optometry has established the Irvin M. Borish Chair in Optometric Practice (1987), an endowed chair with more than one million dollars of support. In 1995, Indiana University honored him by establishing the Borish Center for Ophthalmic Research.

Dr. Borish passed away on March 3, 2012.

Acquisition Information:

Donation from Dr. Borish, 1997


Other Information:

Uploaded to TARO, 2005.

Additional information may be found at

Processing Information:

Tyler Selle, February 1997

Guide to the Professor Irvin M. Borish Papers
Tyler Selle
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA