Mendel Newsletter
Table of contents
n.s. 8 (February 1999)


Once again, research in genetics has made front page headlines this year. In this space for the last two years, Dolly, the cloned sheep, has represented part of the controversy surrounding the direction of cutting-edge genetics research. Now, ownership of information gleaned from the human genome project has ethicists and philosophers sounding new warning bells. Private researchers are trying to patent ESTS, DNA fragments that may have enormous commercial potential According to the Philadelphia Inquirer (16 November, 1998, p. CI), "Government scientists are trying to thwart [several private companies] by decoding and dumping as much genetic information as they can onto the Internet." Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, is quoted in a letter to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, saying, "Our concern is that patents are being used in ways that create obstacles to conquering human disease." Jonathan King, Professor of Molecular Biology at MIT, and a board member of the Council for Responsible Genetics, puts the argument even more strongly: "The attempt to obtain patent protection of ESTs violates the intent of patent law, violates the spirit of patent law, and uses the patent system exactly opposite its true intent. It is the suppression of invention and the constraining of discovery." The relationship between the market forces of our economic system and new developments in science is not always so complicated, but in this case, it seems apparent that some very complex issues in genetics may break new ground defining the means and motives for the conduct of scientific research. As with Dolly, questions are being asked of those who seek to understand the ramifications of genetic research; and as with Dolly, the answers to those questions are likely to affect more than just a few of us. As in the 20th century, geneticists promise to keep ethicists -- and historians -- busy in the 21st.

Martin L. Levitt
American Philosophical Society


Unraveling the History of Eugenics in Mexico1

Alexandra Stem
University of Chicago
Reconstructing the history of eugenics in Mexico requires a great deal of archival detective work and a flexible definition of the term. While in the United States the most prominent eugenicists were usually trained in some specialization of biology or the still emergent field of genetics, almost all Mexican eugenicists were physicians educated at the country's premier medical school (La Facultad de Medicina). Eugenics was formed by this professional milieu which included hospitals, laboratories, public clinics, and private practice-and shaped by unique historical patterns which included a tumultuous revolution, a strong attachment to tenets of French positivism and physiology, and scarce state resources for the development of science in general. Members of the Mexican Society for the Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis of Venereal Diseases (founded in 1908), the Mexican Society of Puericulture (1929), and the Mexican Eugenics Society (1931) dominated the National Academy of Medicine, the National Medical School, and governmental agencies of public health, education, and justice. Indeed, it is difficult to understand the remaking of the Mexican state following the revolution of 1910 without grasping the far-reaching influence of eugenic ideas, proposals, and laws. As in many other countries during the same period, theories of hereditary difference, attempts to control reproduction, and increasingly elaborate techniques of anthropometrics and biometrics were central to doctrines of nationalism and citizenship. Since the papers of the Mexican Eugenics Society were disposed of long ago and those of other pertinent societies are nowhere to be found, any scholar seeking to study eugenics in Mexico must traverse many archives.1 In this essay I will describe the principal archival sources and explain their historical significance.2

Historical Archive of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (Archivo Histótico de la Secretatia de Salubridad y Asistencia):
This archive is the best starting point for reconstructing the activities of Mexican eugenicists. First of all, it houses one of the most complete collections of the second series of Eugenesia, the official publication of the Mexican Eugenics Society which ran from 1939-1954. The first series (1932-1935) is only available outside of Mexico, at the New York Public Library. Materials related to eugenics are scattered throughout this ministry's records since eugenicists were frequently in charge of the country's most touted sanitary efforts and prestigious departmental offices. Created or revamped as part of the post-revolutionary government's concern to modernize the public health system and protect society from endemic and epidemic disease, the Institute of Hygiene, the Campaign against Yellow Fever, and the School of Sanitation were all, at one time or another during the 1920s or 1930s, run by active or future members of the Mexican Eugenics Society. At first glance, these agencies might appear more related to bacteriology and public medicine than eugenics, but given that the majority of Mexican eugenicists espoused the neo-Lamarckian theory that acquired characteristics could be inherited, germs and genes were often viewed as cytologically interdependent if not synonymous. The motto of the Mexican Eugenics Society-for the improvement of the race-must be interpreted in these terms, as part of a broader public health agenda that often conflated hereditary, congenital, and contagious conditions.

As in other Latin nations such as Argentina, Spain, and Brazil, eugenics made its initial entrance into Mexico as "puericulture," the term defined by the French obstetrician Adolphe Pinard as "the scientific study of the child."3 Bemoaning France's declining birthrate and fearful of signs of increasing degeneracy among the body politic, Pinard had seized upon the term at the turn of the nineteenth century. As Nancy Stepan eloquently demonstrates in "The Hour of Eugenics': Race, Gender and Nation in Latin America, an orientation towards French philosophy and medicine, the legacies of Catholicism, and skepticism towards many aspects of Weismannian-Mendelian determinism led many Latin American scientists and physicians to embrace and promote puericulture and the related field of homiculture (whose focus expanded to the human species as a whole). 4 Following the contours of the French eugenics movement, many Mexicans embarked upon pronatalist campaigns to combat infant mortality and boost population density, eradicate dread diseases with potentially dysgenic effects, instruct mothers on every facet of efficient child-rearing, establish public clinics and milk stations, and monitor the development of the nation's children through the gathering of all sorts of biomedical statistics. 5 The development of puericulture in Mexico is best documented by papers housed at the Archive of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (then known as the Department of Public Health), specifically the School Hygiene Service and Infant Hygiene Service collections. The doctors, nurses, and medical technicians who made up these two services had initially been brought together in 1921 at the First Congress of the Mexican Child, where they took part in the country's first formal conference sections on eugenics and puericulture. The delegates who converged upon this gathering -- including feminists, obstetricians, pediatricians, journalists, and engineers -- fanned out to different state and civic groups in the 1920s and were instrumental in incorporating new ideas of heredity, reproduction, and social and racial difference into public discourse.

Formed in 1920, the School Hygiene Service sought to establish standards of "normal" development for children of all ages, participate in international conferences on child welfare, enforce sanitary laws and building codes in the schools, and compile anthropometric data of pupils. Although only consisting of four boxes, the papers are nonetheless quite revelatory; showing, for example, that in 1922 a commission of school hygienists began the project of designing intelligence tests for use in Mexican schools. While in 1925 this Service was transferred to the Department of Pyschopedagogy and Hygiene at the Ministry of Education (see below), public health activities related to infants remained within the purview of the Department of Public Health. The establishment of the Infant Hygiene Service close to a decade later in 1929 demonstrates the growing importance of notions of puericulture and eugenics to post-revolutionary leaders. Decreed into law by president Emilio Portes Gil, the Infant Hygiene Service was entrusted with decreasing rates of infant mortality, inculcating a new ethos of "responsible motherhood" among Mexican women, and tracking the health of newborns. Comprising nine boxes, the records of this Service contain some of the richest materials on puericulture and eugenics in Mexico. Included in the collection are puericulture manuals and courses, reports written by the directors of the Service's infant hygiene centers, medical charts enumerating patients consulted and diseases treated (including the ever-feared "hereditary syphilis"), and dispatches from visiting nurses hired to monitor the status of pregnant mothers. Correspondence shows that several months after this Service was formed its Director organized the first meeting of the Mexican Society of Puericulture, the organization which provided a forum for the physicians who would found the Mexican Eugenics Society just two years later.

Together, the papers of the Infant Hygiene Service and articles published in the Mexican Society of Puericulture's official journal (La Revista Mexicana de Puericultura) reveal that puericultors worked with the Civil Registry to enforce legislation requiring fiancées to obtain medical certificates before marriage. Mandated into law by both the 1926 Sanitary Code and the 1928 Civil Code, prenuptial exams became a rallying point for many eugenicists and puericultors who differed on other issues such as birth control, sterilization, and castration. Perhaps because attempts to make the premarital medical exam a fundamental requisite of participation in civic life failed miserably during the early 1930s, Socialist president Lázaro Cárdenas reissued the marriage law in his 1940 Regulations for the Campaign against Venereal Diseases. The public health agency that was responsible for drafting this legislation, the Anti-Venereal Disease Campaign Office, was comprised principally of well-known eugenicists. Records of its activities comprise close to half of the six boxes which make up the Anti-Venereal Inspection collection which dates back to 1867. Newspapers clippings indicate that the Mexican Eugenics Society and the Service organized gatherings to discuss the importance of abolishing prostitution, criminalizing venereal diseases, and enforcing prenuptial exams. Often written in a dramatic and triumphalist tone, these materials document a sui genetis moment in Mexican history when political radicals, feminists, and moralists came together under the banner of eugenics to insist on a state-sponsored program of medicalized control. Although laws were often ignored and logistically impossible to implement, by the late 1930s public health discourse had fused eugenics, maternalism, reproduction, and nationalism in ways similar to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The admonition of the Director of the Public Health Department in 1936 -- that "every woman living in the territory of the Mexican Republic, having been born in it or only a resident, temporary or permanent, has the duty to contribute within the law and according to the principles of eugenics, to fomenting a strong and healthy populace"6 makes more historical sense after having examined and contextualized the papers of the School Hygiene Service, the Infant Hygiene Service and the Anti-Venereal Disease Campaign.

Aside from these three collections, the Ministry of Health and Welfare Archive also contains materials related to eugenics and puericulture in records of the Legal Service, the Section on Conferences and Conventions, the Personnel Office, and the Institute of Hygiene. During the 1920s and 1930s Mexican eugenicists were actively involved in most of the sub-agencies of the Public Health Department. Moreover, their concern with issues of procreation, child maturation, and state assistance was central to the creation of the Ministry of Assistance in 1937 (which later merged with the Department of Public Health) and most importantly, the Mexican Social Security Institute, founded in 1943. The eugenic legacy in Mexico is inscribed on the many buildings and institutes named after stateemployed physicians who spent the formative years of their career as members of either or both the Mexican Eugenics Society and the Mexican Society of Puericulture.

Historical Archive of the Ministry of Public Education (Archivo Histórico de la Secretatia de Educación Pública):
While puericulture and welfare programs aimed at increasing population density and raising health standards were carried out in the name of public health, similar medicalized projects were undertaken under the aegis of education. In the eyes of many of the post- revolutionary leaders, the key to creating a new state lay in seizing hold of the minds of citizens; throughout the 1920s and 1930s Mexico was characterized by a cultural project which stressed temperance, anti- clericalism, momlity, the forging of national homogeneity and various aspects of racial hygiene. The governmental site for waging this ideological battle was first and foremost the Ministry of Public Education.7 Little studied in Mexican history is the role that the Department of Pyschopedagogy and Hygiene played in this process. The records of this department are voluminous -- comprising over 80 uncatalogued boxes -- and fascinating.

Created in 1925, the Department of Psychopedagogy and Hygiene was staffed by physicians previously affiliated with the School Hygiene Service at the Public Health Department. Building upon his knowledge of pediatrics, psychometrics, and neurology, Dr. Rafael Santamarina, who had spoken in the puericulture section at the First Congress of the Mexican Child, directed the Department of Psychopedagogy and Hygiene during the late 1920s. The records of this department include materials related to Santamarina's massive project of adapting foreign intelligence tests to the Mexican milieu. Convinced that the mental development of Mexican children had to be measured with instruments apposite to the "Latin" race, Santamarina translated and recrafted the Binet-Simon, Descoeudres, Stanford, Otis, and Pinter tests. He then sent young educators out to the field to administer batteries of exams, tabulate scores and determine quotients of various kinds. Contained in this collection are extensive monthly and yearly reports written by Santamarina's underlings, treatises on the development of school hygiene in Mexico, documents about Santamarina's role as national representative to the First Panamerican Congress on Homiculture and Eugenics- held in Havana in 1928, essays by psychopedagogists on the distinction between subnormal, normal, and superior children, and correspondence with U.S. eugenicists such as Lewis Terman. Researchers can also peruse charts, curves, and graphs comparing intelligence levels according to "race" and gender, examine materials on physical culture and exercise, and read mimeographs by the department staff on the connections between criminality, alcoholism, and heredity. As in the Public Health Department, many of the active members of this department were members of the Mexican Eugenics Society or other affiliated organizations such as the Mexican Association of Sciences and Arts (Ateneo de Cienicas y Artes de Mexico). Further study of the Department of Psychopedagogy and Hygiene's myriad cultural, medical, and social activities is needed to better understand the intersection of eugenics, psychology, state-building, and education in modem Mexico.

Documents related to eugenics are also contained in the records of the Educational Radio Station founded by the Ministry of Public Education in the early 1920s. These archival materials reveal that the Mexican Eugenics Society broadcast a weekly radio show in the early 1930s, speaking on themes such as the dire hereditary effects of alcoholism and tuberculosis, the need for state agencies to protect single mothers, and the patriotic obligation of citizens to submit to Wassermann tests for syphilis. Any scholar of eugenics in Mexico will also need to consult the official publications of the Ministry of Public Education which date back to the early century. Review of its bulletin, for example, indicates that the first article published in the country containing the word "eugenics' -- a translation of an essay by the British neo-Lamarcldan eugenicist C.W. Saleeby -- appeared in this Ministry's monthly journal in 1905. 8

Historical Archive of the Medical School (Archivo Histórico de la Facultad de Medicina):
While this archive contains a great deal of material that is administrative in content, it is an essential font for scholars who wish to trace the career biographies of Mexican eugenicists. Two sets of overlapping finding aids -- one chronological and the other onomastic and alphabetical -- allow the researcher to locate with relative ease course syllabi, student rosters, medical essays, annual reports and occasional personal correspondence. These materials show that by the 1920s sections on eugenics and puericulture were being offered in required medical school courses such as embryology, hygiene, obstetrics, and legal medicine; many others, including anatomy, psychiatry, surgery and general pathology were taught by members of either or both the Mexican Society of Puericulture and the Mexican Eugenics Society. Another guide for key medical faculty, also permits the researcher to obtain the curriculum vita of Mexico's preeminent physicians, many of whom studied abroad at schools such as Johns Hopkins University or the Pasteur Institute. In addition, of special interest is the personal archive of the renowned Mexican physiologist, José Joaquín Izquierdo, who presented a paper at the Second International Congress of Eugenics held in New York in 1921 and was head of the eugenics section of the Second Congress of the Mexican Child in 1923. Izquierdo's career, which included study under and collaboration with Harvard physiologist Walter B. Cannon, is suggestive of the kinds of influences that shaped Mexican medicine. On the one hand, Izquierdo was trained before the revolution in a medical school profoundly influenced by the ideas of the French physiologist François Broussias -- a perspective resonated with the Comtean positivism so in vogue at the time.9 On the other hand, when ready to travel abroad in the 1920s to be further mentored in his field, instead of following in the foot steps of his nineteenth-century compatriots, Izquierdo chose not to travel to France but to the U. S. where he was exposed to experimental physiology and genetics as well as the labors of the Eugenics Records Office.10

Historical Archive of the National Medical Academy (Archivo Histórico de la Academia Nacional de Medicina):
Although small, this archive is an invaluable resource for scholars of eugenics and medicine in Mexico. Researchers can consult record books containing minutes of the academy's regular meetings dating from the mid-nineteenth century as well as correspondence ledgers. These documents provide much insight into the changing composition of overlapping generations of physicians as well as of the importance of professional and private social networks to the production of scientific knowledge. The Academy's library houses obscure and historically significant periodicals, books, and medical instruments, many of which were donated by members. Dr. Everando Landa, for example, whose career in obstetrics and internal medicine spanned the early to mid-twentieth century and included membership in the Mexican Society for the Social and Moral Prophylaxis of Venereal Diseases, the Mexican Society of Puericulture, and the Mexican Eugenics Society bequeathed the library's shelves with a wide range of materials related to eugenics and puericulture. The exceedingly rare publication of the Mexican Society for the Social and Moral Prophylaxis of Venereal Diseases, La Cruz Blanca (1908-1913), is housed in the Academy's library. Researchers can also take advantage of the complete run of the National Academy of Medicine's official publication, La Gaceta Médica de México, which dates from 1836 and published the country's first articles on puericulture in 1903.11

Other Relevant Archives:
Researchers should also consult materials at the National Archive (Archivo General de la Nación) which is Mexico's largest repository and contains materials from the colonial and modem periods. Scholars interested in uncovering the role of eugenic and bacteriological language in Mexico's anti-Chinese movement should spend time with materials located in the collections of presidents Alvaro Obregón (1920-24) and Plutarco Calles (1924-28); similar documents recording Sinophobic and anti-Semitic agitation in the 1930s -- although only cursorily indexed -- make up part of general governmental files from the era. Pertinent documents are also available and easily accessible at the Historical Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Archivo Histórico de la Secretaria de Relaciones Extetiores); included in their holdings are folders with proceedings from international medical and eugenics congresses. Finally, the adventurous historian will want to travel to Jalapa, Veracruz to examine collections at both the municipal and state archives. In 1932, under the governorship of Adalberto Tejeda, a social radical and strict moralist, the state of Veracruz enacted Latin America's only sterilization law and established a Section of Eugenics and Mental Hygiene. According to this piece of legislation state medical authorities had the right to sterilize individuals who suffered from epilepsy, alcoholism, or syphilis or were seen as threats to the social collective. Researchers should allow several weeks for investigation, however, since there are no finding aids or reference tools for most collections at the state archive (one year's worth of materials sometimes surpasses 80 large boxes). The holdings of the municipal archive are computerized and very accessible; a small segment of materials record local anti-prostitution campaigns and touch tangentially on the state's eugenic project. Finally, no research trip to Mexico is complete without a visit to the National Periodical Library (Hemeroteca). Attached to the National Library at the country's main public university in the southern part of Mexico City, the periodical library contains dozens of newspapers and journals relevant to the history of eugenics and puericulture. Just to mention a few, scholars should consult Criminalia, Pasteur, La Revista Mexicana de Biologia, Medicina, El Universal, and El Heraldo de México.

Final Remarks:
Unraveling the history of eugenics in Mexico involves multi-site research primarily in medical and public health archives. Although post-revolutionary leaders of the 1920s and 1930s sought to legitimize themselves by calling upon science as a source of objective and secular truth, scarce pecuniary resources meant that the stuff of modem science -sophisticated laboratories or streamlined medical equipment -- often remained a chimera. Largely for these reasons, experimental genetics did not take shape in Mexico until the late 1930s, and then only at agricultural institutes where biologists were attempting to hybridize new varieties of corn and chili. A starting point for the history of plant genetics is the archive of the National Agriculture School at the Autonomous University of Chapingo. It was there in the 1940s that Edmundo Taboada, who had studied with Ralph Emerson at Cornell University, began to offer genetics courses and train a cohort of students who would play a pivotal role in the "green revolution" of the 1960S. 12

The emergence of population genetics in the 1940s and 1950s was partially due to the studies of eugenicists and demographers who worked together at the Department of Indigenous Affairs, the Statistical Office of the Finance Ministry, and the Mexican Institute of Social Security.13 For example, in 1939 the Mexican Committee for the Study of the Population Problem -- created by the well-known state economist Gilberto Loyo -- met with the Mexican Eugenics Society to propose a biotypological study of the nation's ethnic groups and immigration policy.14 To date, no in-depth archival research in governmental agencies concerned with population and demography has been carried out. Even less studied, however, is the establishment of the Mexican Association of Human Genetics in 1968. In 1976 this association helped to host the Second Latin American Congress of Genetics in Mexico City; over the past twenty years its membership has grown to 400.15 While its links to the eugenics movement of the 1920s and 1930s may be far from direct and linear, studying the composition, mandate, and research foci of this Association is critical to understanding how ideas of heredity and life itself have transformed over time in modem Mexico.


  1. After close to one year of dissertation research in Mexico City I found no site, mention, hint of the papers of either the Mexican Society of Puericulture or the Mexican Society for the Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis of Venereal Diseases. The papers of the Mexican Eugenics Society, retained by the society's founder and perpetual president, Dr. Alfredo M. Saavedra, were apparently quite extensive. Unfortunately, after Saavedra's death, a fwnily member decided that the materials occupied too much space in the basement and threw the collection into the garbage. Saavedra's daughter, Aurora Myrna Saavedra, was able to salvage about 20 letters and receipts pertaining to her father's participation in conferences from 1930 to 1970. According to Ms. Saavedra, her father's correspondents included Paul Popenoe and Charles Davenport. (Author's interview with Aurora Myrna Saavedra, October 14, 1997).
  2. All of the key archival sources outlined in this essay are located in Mexico City. Because locations and hours change, interested researchers should search for up-to-date information on the World Wide Web (see, for example, the excellent site of the University of Texas at Austin, In addition, once in Mexico City, researchers should venture first to the National Archive (Archivo General de la Nación) where current data on all of the repositories listed herein is kept on file. The National Archive is located in the old Lecumberri prison, on Eduardo Molina y Albañiles Street, in the Colonia Penitenciaria Ampliación. Telephone: 795-7311. The closest metro station is San Lázaro on the pink line.
  3. Nancy Leys Stepan, "The Hour of Eugenics": Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 77.
  4. Domingo F. Ramos, a Cuban eugenicist, defined homiculture as "the science which has as its object the research and application of knowledge concerning the reproduction, conservation and improvement of the human species.' See his "Homiculture in its Relations to Eugenics in Cuba, " in Scientific Papers of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, Vol. 2, Eugenics in Race and State, 432-434, 432.
  5. On puericulture in Latin America see Stepan, 76-84; for France see William H. Schneider, "The Eugenics Movement in France, 1890-1940," in Mark B. Adams, ed., The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany, France, Brazil, and Russia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 69-109; Alisa Klaus, Every Child a Lion: The Origins of Maternal and Infant Health Policy in the United States and France, 1890-1920 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993).
  6. Principios que profesa el Departamento de Salubridad Pública en favor de la infancia. Protección a mujeres y niños," quoted in José Alvárez Amezquita, Miguel E. Bustamente, Antonio López Picazos, Francisco Fernández del Castillo, eds., Historia de la Salubridad y de la Asistencia en Mexico, Vol. 2 (Mexico City: Secretaria de Salubridad y Asistencia, 1968), 385.
  7. See Mary Kay Vaughan's The State, Education, and Social Class in Mexico, 1880-1928 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1982) as well as her more recent Cultural Politics in Revolution: Teachers, Peasants, and Schools in Mexico, 1930-1940 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997). For a general introduction to the post-revolutionary cultural project see Gilbert M. Joseph and Daniel Nugent, eds., Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 1994).
  8. "Los Problemas de la Herencia," Boletin de Instrucción Pública V:5 (Dec. 20, 1905), 330-342.
  9. On the overlapping epistemological framework of Broussais and Comte see Georges Canguilhem, The Normal and the Pathological (New York: Zone Books, 1991).After advanced study with Cannon, lzquierdo returned to Mexico determined to make experimental physiology the cornerstone of medical education. He translated Claude Bernard's An Introductory to the Study of Experimental Medicine and was responsible for establishing the National Medical School's Department of Physiology in 1934. (See Hugo Aréchiga, "José Joaquín Izquierdo, Impulsor de los Estudios de Fisiología en México," Ciencia, Universidad y Medicina (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1997), 213-226).
  10. In 1923, lzquierdo related his enthusiasm for U.S.-style eugenics to the readers of Medicina, the journal published by the Medical School. See his "Necesidad de que en México emprenda el Estado estudios de Eugenesia," Medicina 3:32 (February 1923), 189-192.
  11. An index for this journal is available and exceedingly useful. See Francisco Fernández del Castillo, Bibliografía General de la Academia Nacional de Medicina, 1836-1956 (Mexico City: Academia Nacional de Medicina, 1959).
  12. See José Luis Meléndez Ibarra, "La Génetica Relacionada a la Evolución en México," unpublished manuscript, 1997.
  13. See Luis A. Astorga A., "La Razón Demográfica de Estado, " in Revista Mexicana de Sociología (Jan-March 1989), 193-210.
  14. Eugenesia, 2d. series, 1: 1 (November 1939), 2-4.
  15. Fabio Salamanca and Salvador Armendares, "The Development of Human Genetics in Mexico, " in Archives of Medical Research 26, Supplement (1995), 55-62.


APS Mellon Resident Fellowships
The American Philosophical Society Library is accepting applications for short-term residential fellowships for conducting research in its collections. The Society's Library, located near Independence Hall in Philadelphia, is a leading international center for research in the history of American science and technology and their European roots, as well as early American history and culture. The Library houses over 7 million manuscripts, 240,000 volumes and bound periodicals, and thousands of maps and prints. Outstanding historical collections and subject areas include the papers of Benjamin Franklin; the American Revolution; 18th and 19thcentury natural history; western scientific expeditions and travel; the Peale-Sellers papers; American Indian languages; anthropology; the papers of Charles Darwin and his forerunners, colleagues, critics, and successors; genetics and eugenics; biochemistry, physiology, and biophysics; 20th-century medical research; and modern physics. (The Library does not hold materials on philosophy in the modern sense.) The fellowships, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, are intended to encourage research in the Library's collections by scholars who reside beyond a 75-mile radius of Philadelphia. The fellowships are open to both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who are holders of the Ph.D. or the equivalent, Ph.D. candidates who have passed their preliminary exams, and independent scholars. Applicants in any relevant field of scholarship may apply. The stipend is $1,900 per month, and the term of the fellowship is a minimum of one month and a maximum of three, taken between June 1, 1999 and May 31, 2000. Fellows are expected to be in residence for four consecutive weeks during the period of their award.

There is no special application form and this notice provides all the essential information needed to apply. Applicants should submit the following: (1) cover sheet stating a) name, b) title of project, c) expected period of residence, d) institutional affiliation, e) mailing address, f) telephone numbers, and g) social security number; (2) a letter (not to exceed three single-spaced pages) which briefly describes the project and how it relates to existing scholarship, states the specific relevance of the American Philosophical Society's collections to the project, and indicates expected results of the research (such as publications); (3) a c.v. or resume; and (4) one letter of reference (doctoral candidates must use their dissertation advisor). Published guides to the Society's collections are available in most research libraries, and a list of these guides is available on request. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the Library staff by mail or phone regarding the collections.

Address applications or inquiries to:

Mellon Fellowships
American Philosophical Society Library
105 South Fifth St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3386.
Telephone: (215) 440-3400.

Applications must be received by March 1 of 1999.


Archives of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (APAM)

Amy Crumpton, Melanie Hunter, and Allison Vines
American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) was established in 1848 to bring together scientists from all disciplines and geographic locations into an organization dedicated to promoting science and creating a professional identity for scientists in the United States. For a century and a half, AAAS efforts have mirrored changing concerns in scientific fields such as physics, biology, chemistry, geology, anthropology, and ecology. The AAAS archives of papers and publications document the Association's activities in areas such as science education and policy, and the globalization, public understanding, and communication of science.

According to AAAS Proceedings, early discussions of Mendelian genetics occurred at the December 1902 AAAS meeting in Washington, D.C. At that meeting, zoologist Edmund B. Wilson delivered a paper on "Some Recent Cytological Investigations and their Bearing in Mendel's Principles of Heredity" and W. A. Cannon reported on "The Cytological Basis of the Mendelian Theory of Hybrids." Research findings were announced, too, through the pages of the AAAS journal Science. E. B. Wilson published the first photographs of the details of cell division in the February 24, 1905, issue (vol. 21, no. 530, p. 281) and Thomas H. Morgan, extending Wilson's work, published his findings on the genetics of Drosophila melanogaster in the July 22, 1910, issue (vol. 32, no. 812, p. 120-122). Begun with financial backing from Thomas Edison and then Alexander Graham Bell, Science has reported on research findings and news of interest to the scientific community since 1880.

Presidential addresses, also published in Science, provide an enlightening look at the evolution of the sciences in this century. In addition to documenting important changes in the sciences, the impassioned speeches reflect the political atmospheres of the times. For example, geologist Kirtley Mather on anti-intellectualism and McCarthyism in the 1950's, while animal ecologist Thomas Park, concerned with population issues in 1961, warned that, "if man does not manage his biology, it will manage him!" (vol. 138, no. 3548, p. 1375).

A number of well-known geneticists have served as President of the Association -- Thomas H. Morgan (1930), Albert F. Blakeslee (1940), George W. Beadle (1955), Laurence H. Snyder (1957), and H. Bentley Glass (1969). Some have provided optimistic and revolutionary visions of their changing field in their presidential addresses. George Beadle, in 1956, proclaimed that through the understanding of heredity, man "has won the knowledge that makes it possible deliberately to determine the course of his own biological evolution. He is in the position to transcend the limitations of the natural selection that have for so long set his course."(vol. 125, no.3236, p.11) Fifteen years later, Bentley Glass concluded much the same stating, "As he acquires more fully the power to control his own genotype, and to direct the course of his own evolution, he must produce a man who can transcend his present nature." (vol. 171, no. 3966, p. 29).

Such aspirations for human evolutionary transcendence, however, have been tempered by increasing concern over the ethical, social, and legal implications of genetic science and technology. The AAAS Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility and the joint AAAS-American Bar Association National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, both multidisciplinary bodies formed in the 1970s, have explored dilemmas arising from the impact of advances in genetics on society, particularly issues of privacy and the integrity of human subjects. The AAAS Science and Human Rights Program has taken a lead in promoting the use of genetic techniques in forensic anthropology a tool for identifying victims of human rights abuses.

The AAAS archives contain a considerable number of records and papers that are unique. In addition to a complete collection of the journal Science, there is a complete set of annual meeting programs and proceedings, as well as other now defunct Association journals such as The Scientific Monthly and Popular Science Monthly. Other than these publications, however, documents from the late 19th and early 20th century are sparse. Before 1907, AAAS did not have a permanent home and records were housed with the permanent secretary; thus much has been lost or destroyed from this period. More complete records begin with the 1940s, providing materials of particular relevance to scholars interested in post-World War II science and the role that AAAS has played in the scientific community since. The wide variety of materials available include AAAS Board and Council meeting minutes, correspondence, records on a variety of educational and policy programs, resolutions, audiotapes of sessions from many of the annual meetings, and miscellaneous publications. In March 1998, Dr. Al Teich, Director of the AAAS Directorate for Science and Policy Programs, was given responsibility for supervising restoration and reorganization of the archives. Amy Crumpton, a science and technology studies researcher, was hired to work on the day-to-day tasks involved in accomplishing these goals. She has been assisted by Melanie Hunter and Allison Vines, two undergraduate interns from the Biology and Society Program at Arizona State University. AAAS has made a commitment to revitalize its archives by the year 2000. Much of what has already been accomplished can be attributed to Michele Aldrich, who acted as the organization's archivist for approximately 15 years ending in 1995. Her commitment to preserving the heritage of AAAS affairs was instrumental in the initiation of this work in progress.

As part of the Association's 150th anniversary this year, AAAS created a retrospective history exhibit using some 400 artifacts and documents drawn mainly from the archives. A number of early documents, such as the 1848 meeting signature book, are on display. A complete set of presidential portraits, most of which have letters accompanying the photograph and which were shown together for the first time at the Association's 150th anniversary meeting in Philadelphia, is also part of the exhibit. The exhibit is located on the second floor of the AAAS headquarters at 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. through December 1998 and is open to the public. For more information about the AAAS archives, contact Amy Crumpton at 202-326-6791 or


Archives and Published Resources on Vernon Lyman Kellogg

Mark Largent
University of Minnesota

Vernon Lyman Kellogg (1867-1937), an early twentieth century American biologist who studied evolution in insects, left a number of published and unpublished works concerning his experiments on Mendelian inheritance. Kellogg sought to "uncover" the processes of evolution by organizing his experiments around several evolutionary questions, rather than focusing on any one specific hypothesis. In this manner, Kellogg's work illustrates the way in which Mendel's theory was tested by being integrated into a larger study of evolutionary mechanisms. While his career included a number of scientific and administrative positions, this essay will focus primarily on his work and writings on Mendelism.

Kellogg's training consisted of five years with Francis Snow at Kansas University and a year each with John Henry Comstock at Cornell and Karl Leuckart in Leipzig, Germany. In 1893 David Starr Jordan hired him to replace Comstock as professor of entomology at Stanford. In the years before the turn of the century, his work focused on the classification, detailed description, and quantitative analysis of lice, butterflies, and other insects. After the rediscovery of Mendel's work, Kellogg organized a bionomics lab, where he used experimental methods to explore many of the questions commonly asked by natural historians. His work on Mallophaga led to what E. O. Essig called Kellogg's Law, which predicted evolutionary relationships between host species based on the evolutionary relationship of their parasites. By the mid-1910s Kellogg had left the laboratory and classroom to work with his former student Herbert Hoover in the Commission for Relief in Belgium and the American Food Administration. After the war he took office as the Permanent Secretary of the National Research Council, a position he held until health problems forced him to retire in 1931.

Biographical information on Kellogg is found in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, The Dictionary of American National Biography and C. E. McClung's "Biographical Memoir of Vernon Lyman Kellogg" in the Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. Shortly after his death, his friends and colleagues published a collection of tribute letters and selections from his writings in the form of a book titled Vernon Kellogg (1939). For information regarding his entomological work, see E. O. Essig's A History of Entomology (1965), Herbert Osbom's Fragments of Entomological History (1946), and Arnold Mallis's American Entomologists (1971).

Kellogg published several books and articles in which he detailed his work in Stanford's bionomics lab from 1900 to 1914. What follows is a brief listing of the location and contents of his most important books and - articles that relate to his work on Mendelism.

The most significant of Kellogg's published works on Mendelian inheritance was his Inheritance in Silkworms, which he authored with Ruby Green Smith in 1908. The book resulted from six years of carefully planned and controlled rearings to test for Mendelian inheritance and the inheritance of acquired characteristics in silkworms. Kellogg concluded that while there were some inconsistencies in his data, the vast majority of the information he collected showed the "strong and suggestive tendency through all the silkworm heredity towards Mendelian behavior."(p. 66) Kellogg stated that his data and conclusions were similar to those found in Davenport's poultry studies. His intention in publishing the results was not to disprove existing theories or posit new ones. Rather, he stated, I offer the data as facts as nearly as I can see and describe them, contributing toward our gradually growing knowledge of inheritance phenomena."(p. 67) He hoped that by publishing his data other scientists, like William Bateson, would use it to develop more complex theories of inheritance. The book also included an appendix with summations or reprints of seven articles Kellogg wrote from his work on silkworm inheritance.

Kellogg made only a brief reference to the Mendelian theories of inheritance in his well-known book Darwinism To-Day (1907). There is, however, a great deal of discussion on Mendelism in Evolution and Animal Life, which he authored with David Starr Jordan that same year. In it they stated that the Mendelian 'laws' applied only to characters that were not blended or combined. Kellogg and Jordan pointed to the significance of Mendel's numeric ratio of 9:3:3:1, saying that it expressed the regularity of heredity based on actual recorded statistics of inheritance and provided a satisfying fundamental reason for this regularity. They concluded with illustrations of some of the problems and inconsistencies in Mendel's laws and warned readers of the incomplete nature of the theory.

Kellogg also published a number of articles in The Journal of Expertimental Zoology, Science, Psyche, The American Naturalist, and The Scientific Monthly between 1900 and 1910 that detailed results from his laboratory work. In them, he mixed discussions of Mendelism with explanations of his work on artificial parthenogenesis, sex differentiation, regeneration, variation, and inheritance of vigor, sex, and special characters. Kellogg's experiments on Mendelian inheritance were part of a larger program to use experimental techniques to uncover basic mechanisms of evolution by testing various theories of inheritance and variation.

There is no single archival source for information on Kellogg's work. I have found a number of collections that include Kellogg's materials, but others probably exist that I have not yet located. The Entomology Department's records in Stanford's Department of Special Collections provide some evidence of the species he collected and studied, but nothing about his experimental work. Also at Stanford are Jordan's papers, which contain 183 letters to or from Kellogg, most of which are administrative and not very useful in understanding his scientific work. Between 1898 and 1908 Kellogg spent a total of three years in Germany, during which time he wrote to Jordan describing his work in the labs there and his views on evolutionary theories. The Jordan papers are well organized and the Stanford Department of Special Collections has a detailed collection description. The papers are microfilmed and available through inter-library loan.

There are three large folders of letters from Kellogg to Charles Benedict Davenport in the Davenport papers at the American Philosophic Society. The first folder contains several letters in which Kellogg explains his research interests and activities to Davenport. There are also a number of letters in which Davenport explains how Kellogg might gain funding from the Carnegie Institute of Washington for his research at Stanford. The last two folders consist mainly of letters related to Kellogg's work with the National Research Council and the Rockefeller Foundation. There is more of this type of material throughout the "Genetics Collection" in the Carnegie Institute's archives in Washington, DC. Davenport's papers at the APS are well organized and have a finding aid, but the materials at the Carnegie Institute are not arranged or cataloged.

Several smaller collections that contain Kellogg's correspondence exist, such as William Emerson Ritter's papers in the Bancroft Library at Berkeley or William Allen White's papers at the Library of Congress i n Washington, DC. Unfortunately, most of these archives contain very little information about his experimental work or views on Mendelism. Similarly, Luther Burbank's papers at the Library of Congress contain a number of letters from Kellogg with occasional reference to Mendelism or experimental biology. There is some discussion of Mendelian inheritance in Kellogg and Jordan's book The Scientific Aspects of Luther Burbank's Work (1909).

There is a great deal of archival material relating to Kellogg's later work as an administrator. The National Research Council papers at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, chronicle his work in promoting a national science policy when he was Permanent Secretary of the NRC. His material at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford, the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa, and in the Kellogg-Dickie papers at Yale all focus on his World War I relief work and contain nothing about his scientific work.

In total, Kellogg spent about a decade performing experiments on Mendelian inheritance. He was one of the earliest American researchers to apply experimental techniques to test Mendel's theory. However, Mendelian inheritance was only one of a number of questions Kellogg asked in his experiments, as his primary goal was to uncover the processes by which evolution occurred.

In total, Kellogg spent about a decade performing experiments relating to Mendelian inheritance and other issues of evolution. He was among the earliest American researchers to apply experimental techniques to test Mendel's theory. His publications and papers reveal that he was deeply engaged in both methods and theory during these critical years of scientific research. Kellogg was primarily interested in the processes of evolution and he studied Mendelism along side several other competing or complimentary theories.


Edmund Beecher Wilson Letters at the Marine Biological Laboratory

Garland E. Allen
Professor of Biology
Washington University

The Special Collections division of the Marine Biological Laboratory/Woods Hole Oceanographic Library in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, has recently received a collection of letters and photographs from the late Sally Hughes-Schrader (1895-1984). A student of Columbia University cytologist Edmund Beecher Wilson (1856-1938), Hughes-Schrader was a long-time MBL summer investigator, instructor at Bryn Mawr, Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, and Duke Universities, among others. The collection was presented to the MBL/WHOI Library in April, 1998, by Sheila Counts Niklas from the Biology Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Readers of The Mendel Newsletter will be particularly interested in a group of letters written to E. B. Wilson in response to the publication of the first edition of his text, The Cell in Heredity and Development (1896).

There are approximately twenty letters to Wilson, almost all from November-December, 1896 from such figures as Maynard M. Metcalfe (Women's College of Baltimore), Hans Driesch (Naples), G.H. Parker (Harvard), Playfair McMurrich (University of Michigan), E.G. Conklin (University of Pennsylvania), S. Watase (along with Wilson, a student of W.K. Brooks at Johns Hopkins -- University of Chicago) Charles S. Minot (Harvard Medical School), C. O. Whitman (University of Chicago, and Director of the MBL where Wilson had done much of his cytological work), William Morton Wheeler (Milwaukee), T.H. Morgan (Bryn Mawr), Theodor Boveri, to whom the volume is dedicated (Wurzburg), Oskar Hertwig (Berlin), and Wilson's student Albert Mathews, then in Naples. There is also a short but interesting letter from Herbert Spencer, written from Regents Park in September of 1897. All of the letters appear to be in response to having received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, and all are, as might be expected, praiseworthy. Some, however, contain various corrections, critical comments, or discussions of Wilson's interpretations, especially of chromosome structure and function. Typical of the congratulatory responses are those from Driesch, Conklin, Watase, Minot, Morgan, Whitman and Boveri. Driesch wrote (in English):

"I have to thank you most sincerely for having sent me your fine book on the cell. I have read it throughout most carefully and have finished it yesterday. I have never read any summary on a large number of facts so clearly written, so well discussed ... Even when treating the most minute details the writing remains interesting and suggestive. I have learned a good many things from your book and it is especially valuable for me, as I was not very at home in the these matters."

Conklin wrote:
I desire to thank you very much for your kindness in sending me a copy of your book on the Cell. I have been through the whole book and have read some parts of it carefully and I am convinced that it is far and away the best book on this subject which has yet appeared. I am particularly pleased with its comprehensive point of view and the way in which it brings many isolated observations into a philosophical system... I think all biologists owe you a debt of gratitude for your services in bringing together into one place so many valuable observations, as well as in advancing the science by your own research, and I for one desire to acknowledge that obligation. (Nov 24, 1896)
Watase saw its immense utility for filling in gaps in students' knowledge:
Your latest work on "The Cell" which you were very kind to send me through its publishers, came to me in due time, and I have just finished a careful reading of it. It is magnificently done and it fills the void that all students in the developmental phenomena will have felt and now finds deeply fruitful. While its value with the general biological public is immense, its real value will be best appreciated by those who handle the subject at first-hand. ( Dec 14, 1896)
Charles S. Minot was brief but captured a significant aspect of what made The Cell: such an important work:
What I like best of all are two qualities, the effort to make the best use, giving credit always, of what others have done, and your expressing your judgment on the various points -- the latter is a hard thing to do, but it is very helpful to others. (Nov 19, 1896)
Morgan was laudatory but playful:
For several days I have been intending to write and thank you for your book on the cell. I have read a lot of it with the greatest interest. When I went down to Baltimore last Saturday I found Andrews and Howell also saying all sorts of nice things about your book. My students 'evy for it' [sic, maybe "vie"]. I cannot tell you how much I like it -- and I flatter myself that I have gone over a part of the subject and know how great the difficulties are and appreciate how you have crossed such dangerous ground with flying colors. We think [ . ] Hertwig's and other books of the sort are left far behind -- but then you know we are prejudiced." (no date)
Whitman saw in the work not only a valuable contribution to cytology, but also a major contribution to biology by an American:
Now, let me congratulate you most heartily on the completion of your great work on the cell. I have not yet found time to read but a small part of it. But it pleases me greatly and I am proud of such a production in America and by an American. While there is no America in scientific labor, I yet have a little patriotic satisfaction in seeing good work done on this side. I shall write you again when I have read more at length." (Dec 16, 1896)
That same theme was echoed by a colleague (the name is difficult to decipher) from Utrecht who wrote:
When your beautiful volume on the Cell was yesterday delivered into my hands, I was most pleasantly reminded of a delightful hour spent during my American trip in your company . . . . The lead in biology is rapidly passing out of the hands of old Europe! (Dec 13, 1896)
Boveri would, of course, be expected to write back a laudatory response, but his letter is the model of understated praise (affected no doubt by having been bedridden with rheumatism that particularly affected his right arm):
Vorgestem habe ich Ihr Zellenbuch erhalten und will Ihnensogleich meinen herzlichen und meine grosse Freude darber aussprechen. . . . Und in dieser Hinsicht stelle ich Ihr Buch hoch ber dasjenige von O. Hertwig. . . Die ganze Plan der Darstellung, die Anordnung des Stoffes, die Klarheit des Ausdrucks, die Anzahl der Abbildungen -- alles ist vorg ["The day before yesterday I received your book on the cell, and I want to express my great joy about it. . . In many respects I place your book above that of Oskar Hertwig ... The whole plan of presentation, the organization of the material, the clarity of expression, the quantity of illustration -- it is all unprecedented and masterful."]
Among the criticisms, disagreements or questions (queries), the more detailed ones are revealing about the degree to which microscopic observations, especially of chromosome movements during mitosis and meiosis were subject to different interpretations (one major problem was presented by the apparent "disappearance" of chromosomes during interphase) while another was the role of the centriole. Conklin's criticisms focused on the problem of describing the mitotic and meiotic apparatus (the centrosome, or in today's terminology, centriole, that forms the basis for the mitotic/meiotic spindle) in the egg cell, disappearing at the end of a cell division cycle:
With most of your positions, upon which I have any opinion at all, I can fully agree... Wholly apart from observations on fertilized, parthenogenetic, unfertilized and abnormal eggs there are certain a priori considerations which count with me for very much. If egg and sperm are complete cells, derived from similar primitive sex cells and resembling each other in all essential respects, then each must contain a centrosome at every stage in its history, essentially similar in the two cases. Why should the egg centrosome disappear when its homologue, the sperm centrosome, persists? Who is able to say in these days when every part of a cell is found to come from a preexisting similar part, that an organ which disappears has really been annihilated? Such a view goes against the whole current of modem biology. There are fads in our science as well as in secular affairs and while the "Quadrille" may have been a fad, may not the "Anti-Quadrille" be another?
* In addition, there were a variety of criticisms by Ethel Sargent, a skilled microscopist in her own right, and instructor in biology at Quarry Hill College (England). An interesting one relates to the then-ongoing controversy as to whether chromosome pairs were qualitatively distinct from one another, as Boveri had proposed, or whether they re-formed in all sorts of new groupings with each new mitotic cycle: * "Quadrille" refers to the dance-like motion through which the chromosomes displayed during meiosis as they group at the cell equator during metaphase, intertwine, and move apart at anaphase. The quadrille was a French dance analogous to the American square dance in which individuals formed two separate lines and then moved together in the center of the floor twirling around arm-in-arm. "In the section on the hypothesis of the Individuality of the Chromosomes (p.215), I was very much interested in the account of Boveri's observations of abnormal figures in Ascaris. I have myself, however been led to the opposite conclusion by the study of the normal development of the embryo-sac of Lilium martagon. Guignard showed some years ago that the primary nucleus of the embryo-sac divides by longitudinal fission of 12 chromosomes, and that therefore each daughter nucleus is built up of 12 chromosomes. Nevertheless the lower of these nuclei when it divides in its turn exhibits 16 to 24 chromosomes while the upper one shows 12 (Guignard, "Nouvelles recherches sur le Noyan cellulaire, 1887: p. 333; and "Nouvelles etudes sur la fecondation, 1891: p. 187). I have had occasion to confirm this fact and have sometimes found the number of chromosomes to be greater than 24 (American J. of Botany, Sept, 1896). The two divisions in question are separated by a very short resting stage. It is difficult to reconcile this with a theory of the permanence of chromosomes. " Driesch raises a point that has an interesting ring in our own era, dominated by the Human Genome Project:
Do you really think, that chromatin (in a most general meaning) is the hereditary substance? Could it not be possible that the word "substance" is not on [sic] its place [meaning] here? Is not also perhaps an 'underestimating' of the problems of life?
Driesch was, of course, echoing his own anti-materialist bias against interpreting all living processes in terms of physics and chemistry (he even chides Wilson to that effect directly in an earlier part of the same letter). All in all, then, this small collection of letters provides some fascinating insights into a very active and exciting period in the study of cell structure and function.

Sally Hughes-Schrader received her PhD at Columbia in 1924 under Gary Calkins, James McGregor and E.B.Wilson. She taught first at Grinnell college (from which she had graduated in 1917), then as a lecturer at Barnard College (of Columbia University), moving successively to Bryn Mawr and Sarah Lawrence, back to Columbia and finally to Duke University. She was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her research focused on problems of cell development, including detailed anatomy of the cranial nerves of the dogfish, the nature of haploidy and parthenogenesis. She developed several important staining techniques that were used widely in cytological preparations.


The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives: Something for Everyone

Margaret Henderson
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) occupies a special place in the history of eugenics, genetics and molecular biology. The CSHL Archives documents this interesting past with records, photos, clippings, scrapbooks, letters, books, and more. However, the Archives also contains a few surprises. The importance of CSHL in the history of genetics can be seen by looking at the major collections listed in A Guide to the Genetics Collections of the American Philosophical Society by Bentley Glass.1 Five of the 13 major collections are scientists who have worked at CSHL. There has been seven Nobel Prize winners affiliated with the Laboratory, Max Delbrück, Alfred Hershey, Salvador Luria, Barbara McClintock, Richard Roberts, Phillip Sharp, and James D. Watson, and many others have attended meetings and courses offered at the Lab. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory also has important early connections with other famous places such as Woods Hole and Jackson Laboratory.

Most of the collections in the Archives relate to the numerous institutions that have existed on the grounds of CSHL and have been precursors to the current Laboratory.

Brooklyn Institute, 1890-1924:

2 There was great community support for the Bio Lab. In 1912, $965 was collected in subscriptions for original research and equipment, $100 of that coming from neighbor Louis C. Tiffany.3

The Archives contains early course announcements, a card file of students with the courses they participated in and the fees they paid, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences annual reports and prospectuses, director's reports for the Bio Lab, price lists for supplies, information on housing, and budgets and ledgers. There are also some correspondence files about trustee meetings, and scientific publications written by Bio Lab participants and instructors. A listing of courses that were offered is on the Archives web site.4 Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1904-1962:

In 1898, Charles B. Davenport became the director of the summer program at the Biological Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor. Davenport swill his career in 1892 with an instructorship at Harvard where he started the experimental morphology course which he eventually developed into a textbook. In 1899 he moved to the University of Chicago. Davenport's evolutionary studies tried to link field zoology with physics, chemistry and physiology.

Davenport loved his summers at the BioLab and felt that Cold Spring Harbor was perfect for year round science. He was able to convince the Carnegie Institute of Washington to support his vision and in 1904 the Carnegie Institute of Washington (CIW) at Cold Spring Harbor was formed. In 1905, the first CIW building was dedicated. At the ground breaking ceremony on June 11, 1904, Charles Davenport explained the purpose of the Station:

We do not celebrate here the completion of a building, we are dedicating no pile of bricks and lumber - rather, this day marks the coming together for the first time of the resident staff for their joint work, and we dedicate this bit of real earth, its sprouting plants and its breeding animals, here and now to the study of the laws of the evolution of organic beings.5
Every one of the workrooms in the building was supplied with both cold and hot fresh water and salt water. Built to support year-round research, the building now houses the CSHL Library and Archives, and offices for the CSHL Press journals.

The Carnegie Institute of Washington at Cold Spring Harbor was originally called the Station for Experimental Evolution but the name was changed to the Department of Genetics in 1921. Many of the CIW researchers made significant and lasting contributions to the science of genetics.

George Schull was one of the first full-time staff members appointed by Davenport. He taught summer courses and studied the breeding methods of Luther Burbank, and eventually gravitated to maize genetics. In 1908 he wrote one of the first papers on the development of hybrid corn.6 Early Associates (non-resident staff) of the Station included William E. Castle, of Harvard University, and E.B. Wilson, of Columbia University.

Oscar Riddle was also an early appointment of Davenport's. He was at the station from 1914-1945. Riddle and Davenport were both proteges of Charles Otis Whitman (1844-1910), who founded and first directed the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole. Riddle came to Cold Spring Harbor with Whitman's pigeons and continued his research. Riddle worked with Bio Lab scientists Robert Bates and Simon Dykshom to isolate prolactin and demonstrate that it produces lactation.7

Clarence C. Little demonstrated a genetic component of cancer when he found that Japanese "waltzing" mice were susceptible to transplanted sarcomas.8 Little went on to found Jackson Laboratory after he left Cold Spring Harbor in 1923.9 E.C. MacDowell also studied cancer using mice. He discovered the C58 strain of mice that consistently develop leukemia in 1928. Albert Blakeslee, who was a researcher and then director from 1934-1941, was the first to show chemical mutagenesis by using colchicine to cause chromosome duplication in plants.

Milislav Demerec started at the CIW as a staff investigator, working with Drosophila to identify lethal genes that he was later able to link to deletions of chromosome segments. He collaborated with Calvin Bridges from 1934-38 to determine the locations of many mutations and create large-scale chromosome maps of Drosophila. When Demerec became director of the Bio Lab and the Department of Genetics in 1941, he used his influence to encourage bacteriophage research and bring more genetics researchers to Cold Spring Harbor.

Demerec appointed Barbara McClintock to the Carnegie staff in 1942. By the time McClintock was hired she had already made an impact in the field of cytogenetics. She and Harriet Creighton used a differential staining technique to show that chromosome segments are physically exchanged during crossing over in maize. McClintock continued to study corn looking for a cytological basis for variegations in pigmentation of plants. McClintock's study of corn variegation patterns led her to develop the theory of "jumping genes"10 Transposable elements were later found in other organisms and McClintock won a Nobel prize for her research in 1983. McClintock continued to work at Cold Spring Harbor for the CIW until her death in 1992.

Alfred D. Hershey had been to meetings and courses at Cold Spring Harbor but he became a permanent staff member of the CIW in 1950. In 1952, he and Martha Chase conducted the "blender experiment" that showed conclusively that DNA is the molecule of heredity.11 The original blender is in the CSHL Archives. Hershey worked for the CIW at Cold Spring Harbor until his retirement in 1973, during which time he devoted as much care and energy to gardening and music as he did to genetics.

Hershey died at his home near Cold Spring Harbor in 1997. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press will be publishing a book in 1999 that will include a few key papers by Hershey, his director's reports (1962-1973) and lab reports while he was at the CIW, and essays and reminiscences by many of his colleagues.

Records from the Carnegie era fill three file cabinets. There are administrative files including interesting files about the wartime efforts of the Lab and correspondence files. There is an excellent set of scrapbooks covering 1926 to 1950, compiled by Kitty Brehme Warren. Another scrapbook, with photos of staff members including Riddle and Demerec, and early building photos 1909-1938, was found in 1983. A finding aid for the Carnegie files and the Brehme Warren scrapbooks can be found at the Archives web site, The papers of Davenport, Demerec, Luria, McClintock and Shull are all at the APS, although the Archives holds some correspondence and secondary items, such as reprints and photographs, from these scientists.

The CSHL Archives houses an excellent collection of books that were collected by the Station for Experimental Evolution and the Department of Genetics. There is a comprehensive eugenics collection which includes titles from Europe and some anthropology books. There are key animal and plant genetics texts from the early part of this century, but there are also some books on embryology and experimental biology from this time as well. There are many rare books in this collection as well. Erasmus Darwin's three-volume Zoonomia, many Francis Galton works including Hereditary Genius and Finger Prints, and The Mutation Theory by Hugo de Vries. There are even a few 17th and 18th century works in French on the care and song of canaries. A few books from this collection are still in the regular Library collection, but most are shelved in the Archives. Many can be found in the online Library catalog12 and hopefully the full collection will be listed online in the near future.

Eugenics Record Ofrice, 1910-1940

Charles Davenport eventually turned his attention to human genetics. In the early 1900's he worked on the inheritance of various human traits and wrote several articles with his wife, including reports on the heredity of eye13, hair14, and skin color15. This led Davenport to become involved in the eugenics movement. In 1910, under the auspices of the American Breeders' Association, he established the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) adjacent to the Carnegie station with a donation from Mrs. E. H. Harriman. Harry H. Laughlin waq recruited by Davenport to be superintendent of the Cold Spring Harbor ERO office. In 1917 the CIW took responsibility for the annual operating expenses and future expansion of the ERO16. The Cold Spring Harbor ERO office was closed in 1940.

Most of the ERO records were dispersed, first to the Dight Institute, then in 1993 to the APS, Jackson Laboratories, and The Genealogical Society of Utah,17 but some materials remain. There are sets of Eugenical News and ERO Bulletins, as well as Davenport and Laughlin reprint books, photos, CIW files that pertain to the ERO, and some eugenics materials in the papers of Reginald Harris (Davenport's son-in-law and a BioLab director). There is an original copy of 'Minutes of Meetings' from the Third International Congress of Eugenics and 'Official Records in the History of the Eugenics Record Office', compiled by Harry H. Laughlin in December 1939. A Davenport family tree album is also in the Archives. A more complete listing of materials is on the Archives web site.

Long Island Biological Association, 1924-1962:

The Long Island Biological Association (LIBA) was established in 1924 when the Brooklyn Institute decided to discontinue its research at CSH and a local group of interested neighbors came to assume responsibility for the Bio Lab. The first director of the Bio Lab under LIBA was Reginald Harris, son-in-law of Charles Davenport. He had come to Cold Spring Harbor as a summer researcher but when he returned in 1924 he set about to improve the year-round research at the Bio Lab. Harris was an able administrator and proved to be an excellent fund-raiser for the Bio Lab, especially in his ability to interest the neighbors in the work at the Lab. William K. Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, Mr. & Mrs. Marshall Field, and many others regularly donated money to the Bio Lab. In 1932, the Fields even held a dinner and circus party to raise money, featuring celebrity-run carnival-type concessions. Harris also started the Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology (see below). Several new laboratories were added by LIBA and the Lab grounds expanded.

Scientifically, Harris set out to develop more year-round research at the Bio Lab, although some courses were still offered. Biophysicist Hugo Fricke was hired by Harris in 1929. His laboratory was in the newly built Walter B. James building. James was the second chairman of LIBA. Fricke continued the X-ray and ultraviolet light research he had begun at the Cleveland Clinic. Fricke's studies of the effects of X-rays started with inorganic materials but eventually he worked on living cells. In the mid-1930s he received two National Research Council grants to study the genetic effects of X-rays. Fricke left Cold Spring Harbor in 1955 to move to Argonne National Laboratory. Fricke died in 1972 and in 1976 his papers were given to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library by his wife, Dorothy Newman Fricke.

A few early researchers worked on endocrinology. Joseph J. Pfiffner and Wilbur W. Swingle18 were the first to develop a practical method of preparing an extract of the adrenal cortical hormone19 and later showed it could treat Addison's disease.20

Bio Lab and Carnegie scientists worked together during World War II. Demerec and other Carnegie researchers were able to use Fricke's X-ray techniques to mutate Penicillium mold to produce higher yields of penicillin. And Vernon Bryson developed an aerosol penicillin spray for respiratory infections using the "Cold Spring Harbor Aeroliser" developed by Bio Lab scientists.

Bacteriophage researchers had been visiting Cold Spring Harbor for meetings and courses but in 1941 the Phage group began to form when Max Delbrück and Salvador Luria met at Cold Spring Harbor to work on phage techniques. In 1943, Alfred Hershey was included as a founding member.21 In 1945, Delbrück taught the first course to introduce the techniques he and Luria had developed. In 1947, Leo Szilard took the course, instructed by Delbrück. The course was taught for 26 summers and has trained many important scientists.

The last experiments at the Bio Lab were performed by psychiatrist Harold Abramson. He studied the effects of LSD on Siamese fighting fish and carp. It was later revealed that the CIA had supported his research.

For 38 years LIBA operated the laboratory in conjunction with the Carnegie Institute, but in 1962 the two units merged. The Archives was recently given three boxes of LIBA materials. A file guide is available for these boxes. Course and meeting information, scientist files, photos and reprints, and administrative files are available in the Archives. As mentioned above, the Hugo Fricke papers were given to the Library and are now part of the Archives. A finding aide is available for this collection.

Cold Spring Harbor Symposium, 1933- present:

Reginald Harris established the Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology in 1933 to bring together researchers from physics, microbiology, genetics, and physiology for the discussion of a multidisciplinary, quantitative approach to biology. This meeting of specialties gave rise to the hybrid field of molecular biology. The Symposium became the place to announce significant results. In his autobiography,22 François Jacob mentions the importance of the Symposium even before the famous 1953 talk by James Watson about the paper he and Francis Crick published in Nature that year.23 The Archives holds attendees lists, extensive photographs, meeting programs when used, and there are searchable lists of participants names and meeting titles.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1962-present:

There was a short period, from 1960 to 1962, when the state of the CIW Department of Genetics was uncertain. But eventually, the CIW gave its physical resources to the Bio lab and continued to support the research of Barbara McClintock and Alfred Hershey at Cold Spring Harbor. The interim director of the Department of Genetics, Berwind Kaufman, upset the scientists by having the head of the library, Guinevere Smith, lock the doors every day at 5 p.m. This didn't last long and today, the Library continues to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

John Cairns was director of the new Laboratory from 1963-1968. Cairns had spent a sabbatical year as a visiting scientist with Alfred Hershey. Without the Carnegie money, it was difficult to keep the new facility going, but Cairns was able to secure an NIH grant to renovate the top floor of James Laboratory as a teaching laboratory and the Lab was able to expand its teaching program to include courses on animal viruses and tumor viruses. And sales of Symposia volumes helped bring in much needed cash. The 1966 Symposium on the Genetic Code was the first important meeting to be held since the genetic code became known,24 and was in essence, one of the first molecular biology texts.

The third director, starting in 1968, and current Laboratory president is Nobel Prize laureate James. D. Watson. Watson wanted to make the Lab into a world class cancer research institute, so he hired virologist Joseph Sambrook. Sambrook received a large government grant in 1969 which helped hire the scientists who formed the nucleus of the tumor virus group. When the war on cancer was declared by President Richard Nixon in 1971, Cold Spring Harbor was prepared and in 1972 was able to secure the first of an ongoing series of Cancer Research Center five-year grants.

The work of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory tumor virus researchers was key to developments in the use of restriction enzymes to cut DNA and the elucidation of the mechanism that transcribes viral DNA into RNA messages for protein synthesis. In 1977, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory researcher Richard J. Roberts and MIT Scientist Phillip A. Sharp, who worked at CSHL from 1971-1974, both announced independently at a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory meeting, research which showed that the RNA message is edited before protein synthesis. They were both awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for this discovery. The many uses of restriction enzymes meant new enzymes were needed. Richard Roberts developed techniques and isolated over 100 new restriction enzymes and supplied these enzymes free of charge to researchers around the world before commercial firms started up. In 1992 Roberts left CSHL to head New England BioLabs.

In 1980 a new course introduced at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Molecular Cloning of Eukaryotic Genes, became the most popular course at the Lab and still runs today. The lab manual derived from this course, Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual by Joseph Sambrook, Edward Fritz, and Thomas Maniatis has become the standard reference book of recombinant-DNA techniques.

While there. are no recent scientists' papers in the Archives, there is extensive documentation of events at the Lab Photos, abstracts, and attendees lists are available for meetings and courses, although this collection ' is not complete. As Lab buildings have been dedicated, the photographs, historical research and attendees lists have been saved in the Archives. There have been special celebrations for David Botstein, Gunther Stent, and Alfred Tissières which are documented in the Archives. In 1990, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory celebrated its centennial with concerts, art exhibits, lectures, fireworks, and even a reenactment of the first Bio Lab class sailing out to collect specimens in the harbor. All the records for these events are in the Archives. The 40th anniversary of the Watson and Crick DNA structure was celebrated in 1993 and information and photos from these celebrations are housed in the Archives. There is an exceptionally good photographic record of all events at the Lab.

A complete set of the Lab newsletter, the Harbor Transcript, is held in the Archives, as well as copies of irregular newsletters from various Lab departments. Financial information is also available in the Archives. Employee events are also documented in the Archives, i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas, retirements, long-term service, Halloween, end of summer parties, and summer beach parties. The Lab still does fund-raising among the neighbors and the lectures, concerts, and other events are recorded in the Archives with photos, clippings, programs, etc.

Some Watson materials are in the Archives, but the bulk of his papers, most dating from his permanent move to Cold Spring Harbor in 1976, are in a restricted access collection in his home. Requests may be made to use this collection.

Outside of the scientific realm, the Archives also has some interesting items. Charles Davenport's daughter Jane, who was married to Reginald Harris and later to CSHL scientist James de Tomasi, was an artist and Laboratory hostess. The Archives contains many of her sculptures, watercolors and woodcuts, as well as her correspondence with notable figures such as David Burpee and Alexander Calder. Jane and Reginald Harris traveled to South America several times to study the native people, she for art inspiration, he for eugenical reasons. Their notes and lantern slides have been used by James Howe in his book "A People Who Would Not Kneel".25 Jane and James de Tomasi traveled to South America to collect orchids, and some of Jane's writings on the orchids and trips are in the collection as well. Many of the local wealthy families were involved with fundraising for the Laboratory so their letters from people such as Louis C. Tiffany, and the de Forest and Jones families. In 1994 the Laboratory site was placed on the National and New York State historical registers. The research on the buildings done by Elizabeth Watson for this project and her book, Houses for Science, 26 is held in the Archives.

lnterested researchers should contact Clare Bunce, Archives Manager, at (516)367-8493 or by e-mail at


Many thanks to Clare Bunce for all her help with this paper, and for her excellent work in the Archives.

End Notes:

  1. Bentley Glass, A Guide to the Collections of the American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society Library, 1988).
  2. Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, The Eleventh Year Book of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, (Brooklyn: Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, 1898-9)
  3. Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, The Twenty-fourth Year Book of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, (Brooklyn: Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, 1911-1912)
  4. Clare Bunce and Margaret Henderson, "Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives," (1998)
  5. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Year Book No. 3 1904," (Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1904)
  6. Ronald Rainger, Keith R. Benson, and Jane Maienschein, eds., The American Development of Biology (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988).
  7. Oscar Riddle, Robert W. Bates, and Simon W. Dykshorn, "A New Hormone of the Anterior Pituitary," Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 29 (1932): 1211-1212.
  8. C.C. Little, "The Heredity of Susceptibility to a Transplantable Sarcoma (J.W.B.) of the Japanese Waltzing Mouse," Science 51, no. 1323 (1920): 467-478.
  9. Karen Rader, "C.C. Little and the Jackson Laboratory Archives: Some Notes on the Intersecting Histories of Eugenics, Mammalian Genetics, and Cancer Research," The Mendel Newsletter New Series, No.5, no. February (1996): 1-7.
  10. Barbara McClintock, "Chromosome Organization and Genic Expression," Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 16 (1951): 13-47.
  11. A.D. Hershey and Martha Chase, "Independent Functions of Viral Protein and Nucleic Acid Growth of Bacteriophage, " Journal of General Physiology 36 (1952): 39-56.
  12. Margaret Henderson, "Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Online Catalog, " (1998)
  13. G.C. Davenport and C.B. Davenport, "Heredity of Eye-color in Man," Science 26 (1907): 590-592.
  14. G.C. Davenport and C.B. Davenport, "Heredity of Hair Color in Man," American Naturalist 43 (1909): 193-211.
  15. G.C. Davenport and C.B. Davenport, "Heredity of Skin Pigmentation in Man," American Naturalist 44, no. 641-672,705-731 (1910): 641-672,705-731.
  16. Garland E. Allen, "The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, 1910-1940: An Essay in Institutional History," OSIRIS Second Series, Volume 2 (1986): 225-264.
  17. Joseph Cain and Kimberly Koehler, "Records of the Eugenics Records Office Dispersed from the University of Minnesota," The Mendel Newsletter New Series, No. 3, no. November (1993): 10-13.
  18. J. J. Pfiffner and W.W. Swingle, "The Preparation of an Active Extract of the Suprarenal Cortex," Anat. Rec. 44 (1929): 225.
  19. Leslie T. Morton, A Medical Bibliography: An Annotated Check-List of Texts Illustrating the History of Medicine, Third Edition ed. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lipincott Company, ).
  20. W. W. Swingle and J.J. Pfiffner, "The Adrenal Cortical Hormone," Medicine 11 (1932): 371-433.
  21. Horace Freeland Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology, expanded edition ed. (Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1996).
  22. Francois Jacob, The Statue Within: An Autobiography, trans. Franklin Philip (Plainview, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1995).
  23. James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick, "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids," Nature 171 (1953): 737-8.
  24. F.H.C. Crick, "The Genetic Code Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow," Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology 31 (1966): 3-9.
  25. James Howe, A People Who Would Not Kneel: Panama, the United States and the San Blas Kuna Smithsonian Series in Ethnographic Inquiry (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998).
  26. Elizabeth L. Watson, Houses for Science: A Pictorial History of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1991).