Mendel Newsletter letterhead

Table of contents
  n.s. 12 (February 2003)
From the Editor
I am pleased to turn this space over to the American Philosophical Society Library's Frederick H. Burkhardt Fellow in the History of Evolutionary Biology, Joe Cain, for a short report on his ongoing project.
Martin L. Levitt
Managing Editor

Synthesis in evolution: looking back, looking forward

The APS Library is a special place for many reasons. For us historians of life sciences it houses manuscript collections central to understanding the synthesis period in American evolutionary studies. In 15 years visiting, I can't think of a time when a box of materials from one of the principals -- Dobzhansky, Mayr, Wright, Simpson, Dunn, or the like -- was absent from the Manuscripts Room. Lewis and Clark would envy the attention.

As part of a sabbatical fellowship at the Library I've been asked to organize a conference on the synthesis period. (I've drafted Michael Ruse to lend a hand.) Though plans are still taking shape, our aim is to spend two days discussing directions in current and future research on American activity during the synthesis period. We expect to hold this conference in Spring 2004 at the APS Library and hope to direct attention toward several themes:

Our conference design follows a vision set by the late Dr Carter before his untimely death in October. With his deep concern for cultivating young historians, Dr Carter insisted we organize around a small group of junior scholars and focus on the future. How might we be thinking about the subject (and using the Library) in decades to come? He also specifically asked for a small, informal workshop so everyone attending could make genuine contributions. Our list of prospective participants is large. Still, we invite suggestions, particularly of graduate students working in the area.

This conference and my sabbatical fellowship are funded by a generous grant to the APS The Barra Foundation, Inc. in honor of Dr. Frederick H. Burkhardt. We are working hard to ensure his investment and Dr. Carter's vision brings lasting rewards.

Joe Cain
on sabbatical from University College London at the American Philosophical Society Library


The Scientific Life of Paul A. Weiss (1898--1989)

Sabine Brauckmann
Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University

Some years ago, when finishing my thesis about the Austrian-Canadian biophilosopher Ludwig von Bertalanffy, a small book with the title "Morphodynamik" caught my attention. Its author was an Austrian physiologist named Paul Weiss who overviewed the state of affairs of developmental physiology until 1925.1 In adddition, he further developed Gurwitsch's field theory of morphogenesis, which nearly 50 years later paved the way for the concept of positional information. As I wanted to work on the history of theoretical biology, in particular on mathematical models of pattern formation, Paul Weiss' work became the center of my research. A few months later, in the very hot summer of 1997, I visited the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow for a few hours to look up the records of Paul Alfred Weiss (1898-1989). His papers were still unprocessed, and I could just glance at a few boxes. However, the finding aid told me that exciting material on developmental, cell and neurobiology was awaiting a closer view. At that time I did not know what it meant to investigate the scientific life of Paul A. Weiss, the American developmental neurobiologist.2 Now, after I have worked through the archival material at the RAC, the American Philosophical Society, the University of Chicago, besides many other places, I am still trying to grasp this eminent figure of American developmental and cell biology who opened up many frontiers in biology, into which other biologists then immigrated.

In neurobiology Weiss discovered the fasciculation of the fasciculation of peripheral nerves (axonal flow). In cell biology he explained the mechanisms of cell contact with immunological and morphological models and coined the term of contact guidance. In October 1960 he and his collaborator Cecil Taylor produced a media event when they announced their data on the self-sorting of cells, demonstrating that cell suspensions have the ability to reconstitute complete body organs, an experimental predecessor of modern stem cell research.3 During his war research on neurosurgery he developed a new technique for bridging cut nerves without sutures. Modern medical technology utilizes his patent for welded tantalum tubes to pin together broken bones up to now. In 1951 as Chairman of the NRC Divison "Biology and Agriculture" he sent a questionaire to hundreds of American biologists asking, among some other questions, how they define their own specialty, which experimental method they favor, on which topics they work, and how they teach it. When the answers were evaluated, he proposed to restructure the classical canon of biology and, thus, helped to initiate the new disciplines of developmental biology, cell biology, biophysics, and molecular biology. In addition to his research and teaching activities, he has borne a large share of professional responsibility, having served in editorial capacities on many of the leading biological journals, assumed important roles in the NAS/NRC, the ISCB, was a member of the Club of Rome, and served as an officer of numerous scientific societies, including the Society for Study of Development and Growth, and the International Institute of Embryology. In 1977 Eugene Garfield evaluated the Science Citation Index and listed the 250 most-cited primary authors in the sciences from1961 to 1975. Paul A. Weiss belonged to this list.4

Who was Paul Weiss?

Paul Weiss was born in Vienna on March 21, 1898. In fall 1918 he started his studies with law and engineering, switched to biology one year later and finished with a PhD under Hans Przibram in 1922 with a thesis about the movements of butterfly wings that sharply criticized the mechanistic tropism theory as formulated by Jacques Loeb. In the same year he gave a paper at the centennial of the "Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte" about the up-to-now controversial resonance theory by which he interpreted the data of his transplantation and explantation experiments with salamander limbs. He applied successfully for a RF fellowship in 1927 and conducted his research on tissue culture and nerve-muscle reinnervation at the Oceanographic Institute in Monaco, the Sorbonne in Paris, and the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institute for Biology in Berlin-Dahlem.5 In September 1931 he started his American career as a Sterling Fellow of Yale University where he worked in the laboratory of Ross G. Harrison, the doyen of American embryology and master of the tissue culture technics. At Yale Weiss reexamined whether his earlier results on the orientation of a mixture of coagulated blood plasma and embryonic extract which was affected by mechanical tension would also hold for the outgrowth of nerve fibers. After the Sterling Fellowship terminated in 1934, the University of Chicago appointed him Assistant Professor succeeding Benjamin Willier who had left for a position at Johns Hopkins University. Four years later Weiss was included in the Star Poll of Leading American Scientists, and in 1942 the University of Chicago promoted him to Professor of Zoology.

The research program that Weiss continued there centered on his dual interest in growth and development of embryonic and nerve cells. For example, he demonstrated the reality of neurofibrils in vertebrate nerve cells and investigated further the mechanical stress in cartilage. Furthermore, he took up a new experimental approach of neurosurgery derived from the discovery of nerve fasciculation, which led to the reunion of small nerves by tubulation. By serendipity he also discovered that spontaneous rhythmic nerve discharge is a fundamental property of motor nerve pools. It was a basic finding which in the 1960s showed the way for Weiss' work on peristaltic waves pulsating on the surface of neurons, or on contractile movements of the nerve sheaths. The tubulation technique became of great importance when Weiss was the principal investigator for governmental research on nerve repairs during World War II. During his work for the Committee of Medical Research of the OSRD, he and his group also tried to establish the first nerve banks of frozen-dried tissues. Moreover, he and his collaborators detected the role of colloidal exudates in tissue organization and how the caliber of nerve cells is established. Using radioactive tracers, his group measured the steady proximo-distal flow of fluid among nerve fiber that later resulted in the important discovery of the axonal transport of peripheral nerves by Weiss and research assistant Helen Hiscoe in 1948.6 It corroborated that growth of nerve fibers occurs from nerve centers in their nucleated cell bodies. Among the many works he published in that period, the textbook Principles of Developmeny (1939) stands out, even if it was over ten years until his fellow biologists comprehended this masterpiece of "experimental embryology".7

In 1948 the International Union of the Biological Sciences commissioned him to organize a conference at the University of Chicago dealing with the various aspects of the nervous system. The participants were, among others, Francis O. Schmitt (MIT), Viktor Hamburger (Washington University), Roger W. Sperry (Chicago), Holger Hydèn (Stockholm), Rita Levi-Montalcini (Washington University), Jan Boeke (Utrecht) and John Z. Young (Cambridge). Six years later Detlev W. Bronk, then president of the Rockefeller Institute, offered Weiss the opportunity to join the Institute as Member and Director of the newly founded Laboratory of Developmental Biology. Weiss accepted the position very enthusiastically and carried on his research about epidermal cell suspension and the effects of Vitamin A on cellular differentiation. In the fall semester 1956 he became Visiting Professor of Biology at MIT, and the University of Giessen awarded him his second honorary degree of Doctor of Science at the university's 350th anniversary celebration in June 1957. A few months later he received, as first American, the 500,000th Leitz microscope; predecessors were, among others, the Nobel-Prize winner Paul Ehrlich and Gerhard Domagk. With the concept of molecular ecology and the term contact guidance he explicated cellular specificity that he and Cecil Taylor investigated in a series of experiments at the University of Chicago and the Rockefeller Institute from 1950 to 1960. The task of their research program was to study the fate of single-cell suspensions which were obtained by mechanical dissociation of embryonic chick tissues into their constituent cells. Weiss and Taylor's joint work culminated in the famous finding that single cell suspensions from embryonic organs could reconstitute the original type of organs from which they had been derived (liver, kidneys), i.e., they underwent organotypic differentiation. In their experiments, he and his coworkers could confirm for the first time that cell suspensions to which the enzyme trypsin was applied to strip the cells of any memory or previous association, reaggregate to their initial organs.

Ten years later, in 1964, Weiss left the Rockefeller University to accept the deanship of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Houston (GSBS). Although he was more than hesitant, Weiss finally agreed to the offer, at the same time rejecting a prestigious position at Indiana University in Bloomington. Due to political reasons he resigned after 11 months and returned from Texas to the Rockefeller University in Spring 1966. After a mental breakdown he was hospitalized in White Plains, New York in 1978, where he died on September 8, 1989.

The Paul Weiss Papers at the Rockefeller Archive Center (Sleepy Hollow, NY)

The Paul A. Weiss Papers at the RAC, which span the period from 1922 to 1989, consist of 124 boxes and ca. 20,000 cb. ft. film material. The finding aid which is not yet accessible on the internet, is arranged in chronological and alphabetical order within each series. Series 1 contains the personal files, e.g. citizenship papers, personal photos that show him as a five-years old boy wearing an astrakchan fur, and several photos of the family of his wife Nina, who grew up in a castle in Bohemia. Other personal snapshots of Austria and his apartments, and professional photos of laboratories, colleagues, and governmental and society meetings can be found in the photograph box [Series 15]. The study book of the University of Vienna where Paul Weiss finished the PhD in 1922, demonstrates his interest in development and evolution. In effect, he studied biology because he had read Darwin's Origins of Species in the trenches of World War I. When he saw an announcement about a seminar Über Entwickelungsgeschichte [ontogenesis], he signed in, but realized soon that he had mixed up phylogeny with ontogeny. Nevertheless, it was the decisive event which determined his preoccupation with development and growth for the rest of his life. The most touching letters here are the ones Weiss wrote to his future wife during their engagement. The series also includes a biographical file and the guestbook of his laboratory at the Rockefeller University, which was visited by the Who'sWho of biology at the time. These three boxes are complemented by Series 14 (Memorabilia), which includes, besides various diplomas and a ceremonial sabre, the medals the Austrian Army awarded to him for bravery and his service in WWI.

Weiss' scientific life is encapsulated in the Series 2 to 6, and 7 to 9 that account for 83 boxes and amount in total, when one adds the preprints, to nearly 25 cubic feet. For lack of space I can here just sketch their contents and will focus on his correspondence [Series 2] , the lectures of Series 5, the manuscripts of Series 7, and the laboratory notes of Series 9. The alphabetically arranged correspondence [Series 2] is a vast collection of 40 boxes, which include, except for a few personal notes, mainly professional letters with colleagues on the research they did. Other topics deal with the societies of which Weiss was the president, e.g. the Society for the Study of Development and Growth and the International Society for Cell Biology, or discuss new research initiatives as the Neurosciences Research Program. Among the many professional correspondents I will recount here just a few, e.g. Marcel C. Bessis, John Eccles, Dame Honor B. Fell, Karl von Frisch, Sir Alexander Haddow, Caryl P. Haskins, Herman F. Mark, Peter B. Medawar, Alexander von Muralt, John Runnström, Francis O. Schmitt, Marshall R. Urist, Marius W. Woerdeman, Etienne Wolff, Benjamin Willier. When discussing his research, Paul Weiss explains the complex phenomena of peristaltic waves for pattern formation and cell locomotion, as well as the -- at that time -- disputed work on axonal flow and axoplasmic transport. Many scientists requested his famous films of cell movements, also the NLM and the "Institut für den wissenschaftlichen Film" in Göttingen wanted the collection. However, he regretfully denied all the requests for his nearly 70 hours of cell on celluloid. No doubt, the most exciting correspondence I could read, was his dramatic exchange with Arthur Koestler on the so-called Kammerer case.8 When Paul Weiss built his own summer cottage in Alpbach in Tyrol, the contact with Koestler became closer until they disagreed about the delicate issue of what it means to be a true scientist. Alas, the years from 1934 to 1954 are missing, except for some letters that relate to his lectures [Series 5]. Weiss blamed the moving company that organized his relocation from Chicago to New York in the summer of 1954 for the loss. To compensate, I have worked through the records of former PhD students, as e.g. Roger W. Sperry, or colleagues, like Ralph W. Gerard [UC Irvine], and mentors, as Ross G. Harrison [Yale].

The lectures are organized alphabetically according to the places where he delivered them. They start in 1940 and cover nearly 40 years. The 10 folders that are filled with declined lecture invitations, illustrate the standing of Weiss inside the biological community and his ranking as a speaker. From the many interesting lectures and course syllabi, I will here just mention the paper on Specificity in Growth and Development that Weiss gave at Yale Medical School in 1946, and its sequel Differential Growth at the Princeton Bicentennial Conference in the same year.9 These two lectures introduce the concept of molecular ecology and attempt to translate the purely descriptive vocabulary of experimental embryology to a terminology, which is more feasible for the molecular approach. Outstanding are also the 15 lectures at the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, where Weiss was appointed as Visiting Professor in summer 1950. They recapitulate the knowledge on development and growth until that year and were published as Weiss' contribution to Analysis of Development, edited together with Benjamin Willier and Viktor Hamburger in 1955. In the 1960s he introduced students of architecture at the Pratt Institute in New York to the esthetics of form, which he illustrated with films on the development of salamanders, of swimming ciliates, the flight of geese, Leduc's growth models, fighting army ants, and crowds at Coney Island.

The most interesting manuscript [Series 7] is the draft for a new edition of his famous textbook Principles of Development. The draft, that was not published, would have included the most recent data on molecular biology and genetics. However, Weiss did not feel comfortable with it, and instead of rewriting the textbook with his collaborator Ian Linden, he decided to publish a facsimile and to add a new foreword. As Weiss was often criticized that he needed too many pages and wrote too densely in his articles, I highly recommend reading his reports in this series, because they partly reduce the contents of his articles to three to five pages of a matter-of-fact rhetoric. They also clearly elucidate why it was said that Paul Weiss had no peers. For my biography particularly important was the "Final Report on Nerve Regeneration" that he submitted to the OSRD in 1946, explaining the work on frozen-dried nerve tissues and nerve-muscle reinnervation. In general, the manuscripts deal with such diverse topics as cell locomotion and contact, development in general and neuronal outgrowth in particular, with the crucial issue of a national policy for the environment and the communicability of science. Except a small booklet that lists his experiments on the influence of tension on tissue formation, a series of experiments he conducted at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Biology in Berlin-Dahlem in 1927 and 1928, all the lab notes relate to the electronmicroscopy studies of nerve cells in the 1960s. In the 16 boxes of Series 10 and 12 one can find Weiss' reprints, arranged chronologically and completed by a full bibliography in box 71. Besides the articles and books the two series have several electronmigrographs and a few notes about the vast collection of the time-lapse motion pictures on cellular locomotion and neuronal outgrowth. Everyone interested in Weiss' voice can listen to the four Holiday Lectures, which he gave at the Rockefeller University in 1960 [Series 13]. This series also includes projection and microscopic slides of spinal ganglia tissue culture and the damming of teased nerve fibers.

For the sociologist of science the Series 11 on professional societies might be the centerpiece of attention. In 16 boxes the international community of the biological sciences is pictured from the early 1950s to the mid 1970s. Shortly after he entered the Rockefeller Institute in 1954, Paul Weiss became a busy mandarin of science who was travelling back and forth from the States to Europe to organize symposia and restructure research institutes, e.g. the Stazione Zoologica in Naples. The bulk of the material concerns his chairmanship of the NRC Division "Biology and Agriculture", which Weiss used, as mentioned above, to restructure the biological sciences, and the International Society for Cell Biology that concentrated mainly on organizing symposia on cell biology.10


Recalling Weiss' contributions to the biological sciences and the many awards and honorary degrees he received, it is astonishing that historiography of biology has barely recognized the role that Weiss played in American biology of the 20th century.11 About the reasons one might speculate. Although one biologist called him respectfully "dean of growth," he was not unanimously liked by his fellow biologists. Paul Weiss' nomme de guerre, awarded to him when he worked at the University of Chicago, was "Herr Geheimrat" -- a rather obscure title reminding Americans of a caricatured German professor. No doubt, Weiss sometimes behaved like a version of it.12 Maybe, this is the reason why this phony question again and again flashes through my mind when working through the material I have accumulated, and reading the interviews I conducted with former collaborators and colleagues, friends and enemies alike. Then I recall a statement he emphasized in a lecture in the 1950s. Biology is an attitude, not an occupation. Paul Weiss lived it.


Without all the information and assistance of archivists and librarians I could not have done anything, and all of them will be acknowledged at length in the monograph. Laura L. Lovett and Michael R. Dietrich helped me to feel at home in New Hampshire for nearly one year, and Sharon Kingsland and Bill Leslie helped me to enjoy the Johns Hopkins Campus Baltimore. The research was funded by a Franklin Research Grant of the American Philosophical Society and a Grant-in-aid of the Rockefeller Archive in 1998; the latter also awarded me a Scholarship-in-Residence in 2000. The German Science Foundation [DFG] supported the project by grants [BR 1812/2-1 and BR1812/2-2] and a Research Fellowship [BR 1812/7-1] to conduct the project at the Department of Biological Sciences of Dartmouth College, at the Department of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology of Johns Hopkins University, and the Division of Medical Genetics of the University of Utah School of Medicine.


1. Weiss, P. 1926. "Morphodynamik. Einblick in die Gesetze der dynamischen Gestaltung anhand von experimentellen Ergebnissen." Schaxels Abhandlungen zur theoretischen Biologie, Bd. 23 (Berlin: Borntraeger).

2. My private life of the Weissian years is buried in the manuscript To Be a Scientific Tourist. To avoid misunderstandings, it did not mean a vacation in permanency. Quite the opposite, it touches on the many adventures one encounters when travelling around the States and Europe and depending on public transportation systems. To say it bluntly, it meant to be sentenced to Murphy's Law.

3. Weiss, P. A. and A. C. Taylor 1960. "Reconstitution of complete organs from single-cell suspensions of chick embryos in advanced stages of differentiation". Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 46: 1177-85.

4. Garfield, E. 1977. "The 250 Most-Cited Primary Authors, 1961-1975. Part II. The Correlation Between Citedness, Nobel Prizes and Academy Memberships", Current Comments, No. 50, pp. 5-15.

5. For some further details cf. Brauckmann, S. 2000. "Paul A. Weiss and the intellectual and institutional framework of science", Research Reports from the Rockefeller Archive Center, Spring 2000, pp. 6-9; and 2003. "Paul A. Weiss, 1898-1989: The Cell Engineer". In Creating a Tradition of Biomedical Research, Darwin H. Stapleton, ed. (New York: Rockefeller University Press) [in print].

6. Weiss, P. A. and H. B. Hiscoe. 1948. "Experiments on the mechanism of nerve growth", Journal of Experimental Zoology, 107: 315-95.

7. Weiss, P. A. 1939. Principles of Development. A Text in Experimental Embryology (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston).

8. Koestler, A.1971. The Case of the Midwife Toad (New York: Random House) and, Gliboff, Sander, "The pebble and the planet: Ernst Haeckel, Paul Kammerer, and the meaning of Darwinism" (Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University, 2001).

9. Weiss, P. A. 1947. "The problem of specificity in growth and development". Yale Jour. Biol. & Med., 19: 235-78.

10. For further information about NAS and NRC and their funding policy of biology after World War II, cf. Appel, T. A. 2000. Shaping Biology: The National Science Foundation and American Biological Research, 1945 - 1975. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press).

11. Overton, J. M. 1997. "Paul Alfred Weiss. March 21, 1898 - September 8, 1989", NAS Biographical Memoirs, vol. 72, Washington, pp. 373-86; Gaze, R. M. 1970. The Formation of Nerve Connections: A Consideration of Neural Specificity, Modulation and Comparable Phenomena, (London: Academic Press), and Jacobson, M. 1970. Developmental Neurobiology (New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston). Gaze and Jacobson have repeated the experiments on neuro-muscular reinnervation and discussed at length their controversial data.

12. For lack of space, a more rational answer will be offered in the biographical monograph, cf. S. Brauckmann. The homo scientificus Paul A. Weiss (1898-1989). A Life Along the Cell [in preparation].


The Galton Collection at University College London

Bryony Reid
Assistant Curator, The Galton Collection


University College London (UCL) contains four registered museums and ten departmental teaching collections. These museums and collections cover a range of subject areas including archaeology, Egyptology, geology, natural history, art, science, and ethnography. One of these departmental collections comprises the scientific instruments and papers which belonged to Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911).

Sir Francis Galton has been described as the founder of human genetics, of the science of statistics in the United Kingdom, and, of course, of eugenics (a word which he invented in 1883). The Collection, which Galton bequeathed to UCL in 1911, is housed in the University's Department of Biology and holds objects relating to these key areas; however, the Collection also reflects the diversity of his scientific interests. As the following review of the the Galton Collection will demonstrate, Galton was a true Victorian polymath, whose inventive curiosity led him in a variety of scientific directions.

Galton's connection with UCL extended beyond the bequest of his instruments and papers; in 1907, he set up the Francis Galton Laboratory for the Study of National Eugenics at UCL, and installed Karl Pearson as its director. This Galton Laboratory has been through several changes in function and name: it is now part of the Department of Biology and, fittingly, is the building which houses the Galton Collection. Galton also left £45,000 to the University to endow the Chair of Eugenics, with Karl Pearson as the Chair's first occupant.

Description of the Collection

In all, the Galton Collection totals 479 items. The Collection consists mainly of instruments and objects, with a small quantity of archival material: most of the archival material (papers and letters) pertaining to Sir Francis Galton is in fact held separately in the UCL Library and will be discussed below. The following is a list of the different sections of the Galton Collection, with brief descriptions of some of the key objects. The sections into which the Collection has been divided for the purposes of this description are fairly arbitrary, as Galton's investigations in statistics, inheritance, anthropometrics, composite photography, and to an extent fingerprinting, were really all connected – they were all parts of a wider, ongoing endeavour to understand human heredity. This investigation of human heredity occupied the second half of his career; in his younger years, Galton's central concerns were exploration, geography, and meteorology.


After completing his mathematics degree at Cambridge, Galton travelled extensively in the Near East and Africa, leading the first European expedition to Damaraland (modern day Namibia). On his return, he published several books on the subject of travel and was awarded a medal for exploration by the Royal Geographical Society. The Galton Collection holds a variety of instruments he used on his travels: compasses, telescopes, a sextant, barometer and artificial horizons, and also Galton's Sun Signal -- a hand held heliostat, invented by Galton, which allowed travelers to signal their position to others using the sun.

Geography/ Astronomy/ Meteorology

After returning to England, Galton focused on geography and meteorology, discovering the anti-cyclone weather system in 1861. Key items in the Collection relating to these subjects are printing plates which were used for the first published weather maps which appeared in The Times on April 1, 1875: Galton introduced the use of charts showing areas of similar air pressure – the modern weather map. The Collection also contains Galton's orrery, lunarium and tellurium, which belonged to his father, Samuel Galton.

Statistics and Inheritance

Charles Darwin was Galton's half-cousin. After the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859, Galton's attention turned first to studying pedigrees and the inheritance of intelligence, and then, more broadly, to the human body and mind, looking at the impact of heredity on both of these. The tool which allowed him to investigate these subjects was statistics. In terms of statistics, the Galton Collection includes arrangements of cress seeds illustrating the Law of Errors, and arrangements of peapods illustrating the Ogive Curve. The most important instrument in this section of the Collection is Galton's Quincunx. This instrument was invented and used by Galton as a relatively simple tool to illustrate the Law of Errors, especially in relation to the heredity process and human variation. Lead shot falls from the top of the instrument, through rows of pins, and creates a normal distribution in the compartments at the bottom.


In order to investigate human heredity, Galton needed a significant quantity of subjects to supply him with data, and, to this end, he set up an Anthropometric Laboratory, to which people came to be measured. The Galton Collection has a number of items connected with his anthropometric studies, including several head spanners for the measurement of head length, height and breadth; a hand dynamometer for measuring the strength of grip, whistles of different frequencies for testing the appreciation of high notes in people and animals; samples of different hair colours; samples of different glass eye colours; and an original poster from Galton's Anthropometric Laboratory.

Composite photography

Galton invented the technique of composite photography – superimposing photographs of several people's faces to make a single face – to see if certain groups of people shared common physical features; to see if there were "physical types" of people, for instance a "criminal type" or a "Jewish type". The Galton Collection contains a number of these composite photographs, plus the individual photographs of faces from which the composites were made. The categories of people photographed include criminals, inmates of a lunatic asylum, army officers and privates, tuberculosis sufferers, Jewish boys, and members of families. Most of the collection of composite photographs is on glass lantern-slides.


Galton's work in the fields of identity and heredity led him to consider whether social and racial differences might be evident from an analysis of an individual's fingerprints. Galton discovered that this was not the case, but, while others had previously contended that every individual's fingerprints are unique, his 1892 book Fingerprints set out for the first time the detailed scientific case for the uniqueness of individual fingerprints, arguing that the chance of two individuals sharing the same prints is one in 64 billion. Galton was also a key player in the development of the fingerprinting technique, and of the system of print classification: the latter system is essentially still used by police today. A substantial section of the Galton Collection is composed of fingerprinting equipment, including ink, rollers, palettes, plates, fingerprint examiners, and microscopes. The Collection also contains hundreds of cards bearing the fingerprints of families and criminals.


The largest objects in the Collection are Galton's desk and bookcase, which have recently been restored. The Collection also contains many of Galton's personal items – for instance, his wallet, spectacles, passport, and miniature diaries. There is also a large collection of photographs, prints and portraits of Galton, his family, and various eminent nineteenth century scientists, including Weldon and Pearson.

Development of the Collection

The Galton Collection receives a significant number of research enquiries from academics and the media, and loan enquiries from other museums. Most commonly, these enquiries focus on the fields of statistics, genetics, eugenics, and fingerprinting. The growth of interest in genetics and eugenics over the last few years is reflected in a marked increase in enquiries about the Galton Collection, and, in response to this increased demand, UCL has taken steps over the last twelve months to improve access to the Collection. From a curatorial point of view, the state of the Collection has been vastly improved. Rather than being dispersed throughout the University, the Collection now has its own dedicated collection room in the Department of Biology's Galton Laboratory; storage conditions of the objects have been improved; the Collection has been put onto a computer database and photographed; and educational resources have been developed for schools. Over the next few months, a Galton website will be created, and the database and photographs added to the site, to allow the entire Collection to be accessed online. Already these changes, although not yet complete, have had a clear impact on the number and quality of research visits to the Collection.

Researcher Access

Over the next few months, the Galton Collection website will be up and running, complete with a database and photographs of the full Collection. These pages will be accessible via Display of the Collection at UCL is limited by the available space, but the contents of the Collection can be viewed either by appointment or by contacting

The Galton Archive

The bulk of Galton's papers and correspondence -- the Galton Archive -- are held in UCL Library's Special Collections. Again these papers relate to all aspects of Galton’s work, life and travels. For more information on the Galton Archive, see


Bentley Glass, Century's Son

Audra J. Wolfe, Ph.D.
Rutgers University Press

Of all the postwar geneticists who attempted to shape American public life, perhaps none did so as quietly as Bentley Glass (b. 1906). If historians of science have heard of him at all, it's usually for his role in turning the APS's genetics collection into the best in the country. A few are familiar with his work on Drosophila or human blood groups, and others perhaps recall his fifty-year association with the Quarterly Review of Biology. But Glass, whose papers were made available to researchers in 2001, deserves another look from scholars interested in the scientific, social, and political development of postwar American science. Now nearing his hundredth birthday, Glass has by turns worn the cap of a research scientist, editor, teacher, administrator, and federal advisor. He was also a Baptist Sunday School teacher, a school board member, and a political activist during much of the turbulent 1950s and 1960s. Glass, as it turns out, was involved in nearly every controversy surrounding the relationship of science and society in the postwar era.<

Glass was born in China, the son of Baptist missionaries. He returned to the United States in the 1920s to complete his education, first at Baylor University (A.B., 1926; M.A., 1929) and then at the University of Texas, Austin (Ph.D., 1932). After completing a National Research Council Fellowship that took him to Europe and teaching jobs in Missouri and Maryland, Glass eventually received an appointment to the prestigious biology department of Johns Hopkins University. He left Hopkins in 1965 to become academic vice-president at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, a position he held for six years.

Glass's Hopkins years (1948-1965) were unquestionably his most productive in terms of scientific research. Although Glass initially made his name as a Drosophila geneticist, his work in the 1940s increasingly dealt with problems of human genetics, including blood group polymorphisms, genetic drift, and the effects of genetic mutation. It was through these research questions that Glass became involved in a number of public controversies, including but not limited to race relations, Lysenkoism, academic freedom, and nuclear fallout. In the late 1940s, he served as a vocal member of the Genetic Society of America's (GSA) Committee to Combat Anti-Genetics Propaganda, an action group created solely to counteract the spread of Lysenko's influence beyond Soviet borders. Around the same time, he was elected president of the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and chaired the American Association of University Professors' (AAUP) Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Both organizations opposed loyalty oaths and cautioned against unfair dismissal of suspected Communist sympathizers. Glass's involvement with these two issues ironically put him in the somewhat awkward position of having to choose to support or reprimand a young Oregon instructor who allegedly promoted Lysenko's views in his classroom. Glass eventually supported the professor, but by so doing earned the wrath of his former mentor-turned-red-baiter H. J. Muller, who declared Glass perhaps a bit pink. (The details of this exchange can be found the GSA's papers, also held at the APS.) Pink or not, Glass served as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission's (AEC) Advisory Committee for Biology and Medicine through much of the 1950s. He did, however, famously refuse an appointment to the Maryland Radiation Control Advisory Board when doing so would have required him to sign a loyalty oath.

Throughout his career, Glass displayed a passion for both classroom teaching and pedagogical theory rare at the university level. Along with like-minded colleagues in physics, mathematics, the earth sciences, and chemistry, Glass became involved in the late 1950s and early 1960s with major attempts to reform the secondary school science curriculum. From 1959 to 1965, Glass chaired the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), a collaborative project that produced three highly influential sophomore-level textbooks. Unlike typical high school biology textbooks that stressed memorization, the BSCS texts and the accompanying laboratory manuals focused on learning as a process. Although the textbooks enjoyed wide course use in the 1960s, they later encountered resistance from fundamentalist groups who opposed the books' underlying evolutionary framework. Glass's papers contain extensive records on both the successes and the setbacks of the BSCS. The collection unfortunately does not include much material on Glass's other notable effort as an educator: a stint as a member of the Baltimore County School Board from 1954 to 1958. Although little information is available on why or how he obtained this position, it is clear from newspaper and magazine reports that he used it -- and his authority as a geneticist -- to argue for desegregation of the city's schools.

Although the Glass collection is extensive (approximately 90 linear feet), it reveals surprisingly little about his personality or political views, especially in light of his public actions. Glass was a true administrator, and his correspondence is consistently tactful and discreet. His letters and memos -- even those written on behalf of the ACLU and the AAUP -- are oddly reticent about his personal convictions and motivations. Glass's personality emerges a bit more clearly in his dealings with the media. Personality reviews in both the Saturday Review of Literature (11/2/57) and the New Republic (6/27/60) characterize Glass as intensely "earnest," the kind of man who gets involved with righteous causes even to the detriment of his career. As examples of Glass's desire to emulate his parents' "devot[ion] to the welfare of people who were not white," the Saturday Review offered his votes on the school board as well as the Maryland ACLU's defense of young black men from Baltimore picked up by the police. At the same time, Glass shared the views of many white liberals of his generation, and reportedly told the school board that "differences in intelligence between the races of men do exist... but differences in opportunity also exist, and until opportunity is equalized no one can say what is inherent by [sic] natural law." The New Republic similarly described Glass as a unique "triple threat" to defenders of the status quo in Maryland: "by training a scientist, by political affiliation a Democrat, and by religious persuasion a Baptist."

These three affiliations -- surely a rare combination -- seem to have defined many of Glass's choices as a public figure. His opposition to the loyalty oaths of the McCarthy era, for example, was at least as much inspired by the Southern Baptists' reluctance to swear oaths as by devotion to traditional academic freedom. The Saturday Review likewise noted that Glass pointed to both Biblical and scientific evidence in support of his desegregation vote. Glass held several intriguing and seemingly contradictory beliefs, and his papers unfortunately reveal little about the logic behind them. I, for one, am intensely curious to know how this lifelong Sunday School teacher decided that evolution should from the central pillar of a high school biology education!

Perhaps not surprisingly given his political activities, Glass was the subject of several FBI investigations during the postwar years. Glass's FBI file is currently available only to those who have requested access directly from the scientist himself (or his family members). I had the privilege of meeting both Glass and his daughter in May 2001, at which point I obtained their permission to place the Freedom of Information Act request for these materials. The 228-page dossier that I received several months later is typical for a postwar scientist, consisting mostly of background checks for visa applications and AEC activities. Page after page of testimony from colleagues and neighbors describe both Glass and his wife as "staunch and loyal American citizens." More than one informant remarked on Glass's deep religiosity. Even so, Glass found himself labeled a "possible security risk" on the basis of a $5 donation to the Baltimore chapter of the American Youth for Democracy, an organization with alleged ties to the Communist Party. Glass paid the fee to attend a luncheon where he spoke against segregation in the military, and in 1944 he had signed a petition sponsored by the group on the same topic. Astonishingly, it was Glass's admittedly rather moderate views on race relations rather than his outspoken support of academic freedom and the fifth amendment which landed him on the security risk list. FBI agents filed updated reports on Glass's loyalty every six months from 1951 to 1955. Although his record was finally cleared in 1955, the FBI continued to collect information on Glass's views on genetic mutation, nuclear proliferation, and the Soviet threat throughout the 1960s.

After his retirement in 1976, Glass turned much of his energy towards preserving the intellectual history of his discipline, including a ten-year term as Director of the APS's Genetics Collection. It is ironic, then, that his own manuscript collection will be of more interest to scholars interested in the social and political history of the field than in the scientific discoveries that originally inspired his preservation efforts. As Glass himself confessed to the Saturday Review of Literature, he might not have known as much as he should have about Drosophila, but rather more, he hoped, about life.


2002 Acquisitions of the American Philosophical Society Library

Rob Cox
American Philosophical Society

In some years, the APS acquires collections from geneticists hale and hearty, and in others from their estates. In the past year, the latter category has predominated, with the APS adding material relating to Erwin Chargaff, Barbara McClintock, and John Belling.

Erwin Chargaff Papers

Chargaff died at the age of 96 on June 20, 2002. A native Austrian and pioneer in the study of nucleic acids, Chargaff is known largely for the discovery in 1950 of base-pairing regularities in DNA ("complementarity relationships"), providing a compelling rejection of the tetranucleotide hypothesis, and for nearly, but not quite discerning the double helical structure of DNA. A long-time member of the faculty at Columbia until his retirement in 1974, and thereafter at Roosevelt Hospital, Chargaff always considering himself a biochemist, adopting a notoriously dim view of the molecular biology he helped to usher in. By the 1970s, with genetic manipulation and recombination becoming a reality, he excoriated the bioethical poverty of the (in)discipline, complaining that molecular biologists were "running riot and doing things that can never be justified."

Chargaff's papers have been available at the APS since the mid-1970s, but late in the summer 2002, his son donated approximately four linear feet of additional material that had accumulated in the later years of Chargaff's life. Included among these are a large number of photographs taken at various points in his career, a suite of medals and awards, and correspondence from about 1997 until his death.

Barbara McClintock & John Belling

Joseph Gall, a cell biologist with the Department of Embryology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, donated two related sets of materials concerning Barbara McClintock and John Belling. The rather miscellaneous assortment includes two microscope lenses and an Abbe test plate, and more than a dozen rare works on microscopy owned by McClintock (and given to Gall) -- some of which, in turn had been given by Belling to McClintock. More interesting, perhaps, are some of McClintock's notes and lantern slides related to her research on Neurospora.

Accompanying the McClintock material were some notes of John Belling, a plant cytogeneticist, along with four volumes containing drawings and photographs of his preparations of plant chromosomes, mostly from the period 1927-1933. Belling's story is more obscure than McClintock's, but offers an unusual and very personal perspective on relations among geneticists and eugenicists, and the lengths that some went to to assist an ailing colleague.

The son of a schoolmaster in the English army, Belling (1866-1933) earned his keep from the age of 16 by teaching science to students barely younger than himself. Taking classes in botany and zoology aimed at workingmen at the Birkbeck Institute in London, he gained admittance into Mason College at the University of Birmingham and the University College London, earning a BSc in botany in 1894. From there, however, his late blooming career soon stalled. After a brief period as a resident lecturer at the Horticultural College in Swanley, opportunities in England dried up, and he was forced to return to teaching in secondary schools.

Already 35 and hoping still to salavage a future in research, Belling turned overseas, taking a position with the Imperial Department of Agriculture in the West Indies in 1901, and six years later moving to the Florida Experimental Station. As an assistant botanist, he worked on plant hybridization and patterns of inheritance and published several well-regarded articles in the Station's Bulletin, including some displaying a keen hand with chromosomal preparations. Yet just as his career began acquiring momentum, it skidded to a halt, when he resigned from the Station in 1916 due to ill health. Attributed publicly to the Florida climate, his hospitalization was instead the result of what would become a long term struggle with severe depression.

In 1918 or 1919, the first in a series of interventions by scientific colleagues brought Belling north. Paul Popenoe, the eugenicist whose first book had (perhaps ironically) been on date culture, attempted to assist Belling by bringing him to Washington for a change of venue and an opportunity to renew his work. Belling's erratic behavior, however, soon landed him back in hospital until Sewall Wright, who had come to know Belling, arranged to have the ailing cytologist come live with his parents. The change did Belling a great deal of good, and in 1919, he struck up a romance with Wright's Aunt Hannah, who became his collaborator and wife. By the fall, he was deemed well enough to assume an unpaid research post under Albert Blakeslee at Cold Spring Harbor.

After a hopeful and productive year at Cold Spring, Blakeslee commuted Belling to the payroll as assistant cytologist, assigning him to work focussing on the relationship between chromosomal abnormalities and hyrbid sterility. A fine microscopist and master technician, Belling developed an iron acetocarmine stain for chromosomes that resulted in a series of important papers on the cytogenetics of Datura, most co-authored with Blakeslee. Using the stain, Belling provided accurate counts of chromosomal numbers in a variety of angiosperm genera and more importantly, he and Blakeslee became the first to demonstrate the interchange of segments between non-homologous chromosomes. His work on crossing over gained wide recognition in the early 1930s, when both his staining technique and findings were taken up and furthered by his friend, Barbara McClintock.

Yet once again, just as his career was gaining steam, it ground to a halt. Belling was forced to suspend his research in December 1924 having spiraled into what Charles Davenport described as "a severe and somewhat prolonged depression in spirits." For three years, Belling was confined in King's Park State Hospital, continuing his research only sporadically, with Hannah mediating between Blakeslee and Belling, carefully monitoring the workload. However when she died in 1926, Belling spun deeper into depression and was left, as his brother later wrote, alone apart from the benevolent care of the Carnegie Institution.

For Belling, the Carnegie proved too benevolent indeed. Like Popenoe and Wright before him, Charles Davenport stepped in to assist. Feeling that another change of scenery would be beneficial -- and with Belling stewing over what he perceived to be Blakeslee's exploitation of his talents -- Belling's friends arranged for him to leave King's Park in October 1927 to take up an offer from E. B. Babcock at the University of California. Babcock had worked with both Belling and Blakeslee for several years, and agreed to provide laboratory space while Belling remained on the payroll of Cold Spring Harbor.

The move to California provided a temporary boost. Belling directed his technical skills to the cytogenetics of hyacinths and lilies, gaining a measure of recognition in 1928 for his claim to having observed and counted the physical genes on chromosomes. A productive author when he was well, Belling wrote several papers and small monographs on plant chromosomes and cytology, a popular text on microscopy, and two slender books of poetry, Life (San Francisco, 1928) and The Life World: Poems of Science (San Francisco, 1930). Yet as he appeared to have righted his career, fate stepped in. Belling died on February 28, 1933, of unstated causes, perhaps suicide. His major monograph on the current state of research on chromosomes was left incomplete.


The Situation in Genetics: Dunn's 1927 Russian Tour

Joe Cain and Iona Layland
University College London


In 1927 Leslie Clarence Dunn toured Russian and European genetics laboratories under a fellowship funded by the Rockefeller's International Education Board (IEB). Dunn's stated goal was to survey the state-of-the-art in "animal genetics and physiology."

After his tour, Dunn submitted two reports to Claude Burton Hutchinson, the IEB's Director of Agricultural Education and Dunn's principal contact for his fellowship. This article reprints the first of Dunn's two reports -- a 2 November 1927 letter describing genetics and experimental biology in and around Moscow.1 Dunn reported on activities at seven centers:

Dunn's tour was rushed and incomplete. He neither visited systematically nor traveled far outside Moscow. Dunn's letter also must be read through the lens of someone deeply sympathetic to the Soviet experiment. Despite these qualifications, this letter provides a thought-provoking synchronic directory of Soviet research in genetics and experimental biology during the 1920s. In reply to Dunn's Russian report, Hutchinson confided, "The situation in Russia is so complex and the problem so vast that the Board is hesitant to undertake activities there until its work in the rest of Europe is somewhat better established and until some of us can find time to go to Russia and make a careful first-hand study of the whole situation...."2

A future Mendel Newsletter will reprint Dunn's second letter to Hutchinson, a 26 Jan 1928 report on programs in Britain and northern Europe.3


1. Written from Berlin on his return, the report is Dunn to Hutchinson 2 November 1927, folder: "Hutchinson, CB [white folder]," Dunn Papers, APS Library. Dunn wrote about the Russian leg of his travels first, from Berlin before the International Congress of Genetics. His postal address in Berlin was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Biologie. Dunn volunteered to write these reports, see his 6 April 1927 letter to Hutchinson.

2. Hutchinson to Dunn 16 November 1927, folder: "Hutchinson, CB [manila folder]," Dunn Papers, APS Library.

3. Dunn to Hutchinson 26 Jan 1928, folder: "Hutchinson, CB [white folder]," Dunn Papers, APS Library.

4. Dunn to Hutchinson 6 April 1927, on p. 2, in folder: "Hutchinson, CB [manila folder]," Dunn Papers, APS Library.

5. Hutchinson to Dunn 16 November 1927, folder: "Hutchinson, CB [manila folder]," Dunn Papers, APS Library.

Notes on historical editing: Dunn's letters were typed and show no deletions, insertions, or corrections by the author. Transcription here is literal. Interventions by editors are set within [ ] brackets. No effort has been made to update Dunn's references. Bold and italics are added by editors. Page transitions are designated by [x|y]. Lines breaks are marked by "/". Deletions of text by editors are indicated by [ ...]. Major deletions are (1) one paragraph on page 1 concerning the logistics of travel to Moscow from Berlin, and (2) three paragraphs on page 7 containing closing comments and requests that IES information be sent to Alexander Gurwitsch in Moscow and E. S. Gumbel in Heidelberg. Thanks to the APS Library for permission to reprint these letters.

Correspondence to: Dr Joe Cain, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT Britain. .

Dunn's letter

Berlin, November 2, 1927 / Dear Hutchinson,

[...] In Moscow, I spent practically all the time visiting biologists. The chief institute is The Institute of Experimental Biology in Moscow, [...], Director professor Nicolai Koltzoff. I stayed there for four days as the guest of the Institute and talked with most of the people. The whole staff numbers about forty and there is a vast amount of work under way in experimental morphology, genetics, physiology, endocrinology, tissue culture, cytology, histology, biochemistry, cancer research, animal behavior and eugenics. Most of the work centers around genetics. Prof. Koltzoff's work is chiefly in the chemistry and inheritance of blood characters -- iso-agglutinin groups, precipitin reactions and most recently in the quite new and interesting field of the inheritance of the catalase content of the blood in many animals including man, fowl, guinea pig, sheep, cow and others. The largest department is pure genetics under Professor Tschetverikoff; this includes the largest group of Drosophila workers in Europe - six besides Tschetverikoff -- and I was greatly impressed with the men (and especially with Tschetverikoff) and with their problems and work. They have described and located a large number of new characters in several species of Drosophila. Their guiding idea is to study the geographic distribution of Drosophila varieties and mutants in the wild, and to sample a number of wild populations for type and frequency of mutations. Their study of wild populations of D. melanogaster in the Caucasus has shown that nearly all wild flies are heterozygous for at least one mutant character and the breeding experiments from the Caucasus sample of melanogaster have disclosed 32 new genes, many of them of considerable interest and use in Drosophila work. They are also searching for new insect [1|2] material to use in breeding experiments with which to supplement and test their results from Drosophila. The best man of this group seems to me to be Gershenson, a young man recently out of the University who has done two excellent pieces of work in Drosophila and who will probably be a brilliant investigator. He would be my first choice as a man to be helped to continue in research and to be sent sometime to work with Morgan. Professor Tschetverikoff is the ideal leader of this group. He published little himself but is content to work thru' and with his advanced students and assistants. In this group also belongs Dr. and Mrs. Kosminsky who are working on the genetics and cytology of intersexuality in Lymantria and have already shown that intersexes may occur within the same pure strain and that intersexuality may be inherited thru' the male which are new points of importance at present difficult to reconcile with Goldschmidt's theory and results. Shuvago, the cytologist, has studied the chromosomes of the fowl, sheep and other animals and is now at work on a new photographic method for studying the chromatin of the resting nucleus. Rosskin working with transplantable tumors has grown human tumors in mice and has discovered new transplantable tumors in guinea pigs, and has made a new study of transplantable tumors in fowls and ducks, and has discovered strain differences in receptivity to tumors in fowls - a new fact of great importance. Mrs. Koltzoff is studying the inheritance of educability in rats and has by selection bred families which now differ considerably in the speed with which a maze is learned. An important new discovery at the Institute is the effects of a specially prepared testis extract on characters of the blood and nervous system of senile or abnormal individuals. Two years experience indicates a rejuvenating effect which may be of therapeutic value in human medicine. I did not go into the work in experimental morphology (transplantation, regeneration etc.) or tissue culture in detail but was well impressed by the men in charge of these two departments. The Institute is housed in what was once a large private house, which however serves the purpose of a laboratory quite well. Its equipment is incomplete but good, much of it homemade. The library is good in respect of journals for the past two or three years. It is handicapped by the absence of back files of many important journals, and by almost complete lack of foreign books. The recent American books seem to be best represented. The library is of course supplemented by incomplete private reprint files of the investigators, altho' few of the workers can afford to buy any books at all. All feel that the greatest lack at the Institute is a complete biological library especially of works in German and English and all efforts are being made to remedy this lack first of all. In comparison with the general economic level in Russia, one must say that the Institute is well supported and that it has made a remarkable showing in biological research both in quantity and quality. The chief characteristics of the work of this institute as of other scientific institutions that I saw are first modernity and novelty of the guiding ideas. The problems frequently and the mode of attack nearly always are quite different from those in other countries and where they have followed an influence from abroad (as in the Drosophila work) they have given it a direction and a method that is peculiarly local or Russian. Apart from this peculiarity, they are nearest in spirit and sympathy [2|3] to the American type of experimental biology and this is especially true in genetics. They recognize this themselves and are more anxious for American sympathy and recognition than for any other except perhaps German. Practically all of the investigators speak and write some other language than Russian. German ranks first, English second, and French third, although French is being abandoned and the younger workers are learning English rather than German. The general impression of the Institute is a very favorable one. It is well managed. Professor Lebedeéf now gives all his time to the details of administration and management and is a very able and energetic man. Professor Koltzoff is, as judged by his work, his personality and the esteem with which he his held in Germany and Russia, a sound scientist and a sympathetic and successful director. He is probably the leading general biologist of Russia. The workers are enthusiastic and loyal. When one considers the amount and quality of the work which has continued without interruption through the famine years and the difficult conditions of life that now prevail in Moscow, one is continually astonished. I visited at the homes of three scientists. Serebrovsky with a wife and three children has one room and lives about as an American day laborer. Tschetverikoff with his wife, mother, brother and sister-in-law, shares with a workman's family of six, a five room apartment. Koltzoff has three rooms at the Institute for his family. All are poor and have no money for the amenities of life but on the whole seem to have adapted themselves to the new order and to be working in harmony with it. They seem to be as happy, even though not nearly as comfortable as the American scientist of the same grade. When I expressed astonishment over what had been accomplished Tschetverikoff answered that in the famine years they had to have something to keep their minds off their empty stomachs and general misery. But apart from this it seemed to me time and again that scientific, artistic and cultural life in general in Russia is to be regarded as a necessity and in no sense as a luxury. The theater and literature and the arts and sciences continued when the whole economic machinery had stopped and apparently represented things more important than food. This I think was the chief and final impression of my visit to Moscow. Another reason for the scientific activity in Russia is the attitude of the Government which attaches first importance to education and especially to research. Many of the confiscated houses and estates have been turned over to educational and scientific purposes. To be sure little actual money can be given for equipment for Russia is probably the poorest country in the world just now, but proportionately considerable money must be given if only to support the many persons engaged in research. Finally, the foundations for a scientific and cultural tradition were laid before the present regime took power and to this the revolution has given a certain degree of freedom which, if economic support increases, should result in a scientific renaissance similar to that of the last few decades in America.

Apart from the Institute of Experimental Biology, I visited the Genetical Station at Anikowo, about forty kilometers from Moscow. This consists of a country house and estate together with a new poultry and sheep plant built in the last few years. It has a permanent staff of about fifteen workers but in the summer many of the workers from Koltzoff's Institute work there. It is under the same direction as the Institute of Experimental Biology. The most important work here [3|4] is that of Serebrovsky with fowls, of which I have already written. In this he has had a number of collaborators although now he has but one assistant, Petroff, who carries on the work under Serebrovsky's direction. Next in importance is the work with sheep Mr. and Mrs. Wassin who have a large collection of sheep from all parts of Russia and are studying experimentally the inheritance of color and pattern, horns, earlessness and other morphological characters. The more expensive and laborious work on inheritance of wool characters is first beginning. They have many more varieties of sheep in all respects than most of us in America have ever seen. The native sheep populations are enormously variable and provide excellent material for genetic experiments. Wassin is an intelligent and well trained investigator and is obtaining much new data of importance in general genetics.

In cattle Miss Ivanowna has studied the genetics of the native cattle populations which like the sheep are extremely variable. She has studied and published on the inheritance of new characters such as polymasty and many new color and pattern types and is now working on milk production with several community and partially experimental herds. Other investigators are working with bees, guinea pigs and Drosophila. The station is little more than a house for living quarters and work rooms. There is practically no equipment and no library. The out of door arrangements for the animals, especially fowls and sheep are however quite good. Here again much good work is being done under extremely primitive conditions and with an expenditure of much time, labor and ingenuity but no money.

The other places of chief interest for me in Moscow were the two Universities, the Laboratory of Experimental Zoology of the Zoopark, the dairy and poultry farm of the G.P.U. (formerly the Tcheka) and the Experiment Station of the Board of Animal Husbandry near Moscow. The First (old) University, while in bad physical condition is accommodating 10,000 students with large classes in biology. The second (new) University is in better condition although its equipment is entirely inadequate for the large scientific and especially premedical courses. In the First University the most important man seemed to me to be Prof. Gurwitsch of the Histology Department. He was by all odds the most interesting man I met in Moscow and his work is certainly the most original and possibly the most fundamental of any that I saw. He has been an embryologist and histologist of established reputation and has written two books (in German) that are standards in these fields. For some 12 or 15 years he has been studying cell division. His chief discovery is that cells undergoing rapid division emit energy which is capable of stimulating mitosis in other cells situated at a distance. Thus if the growing tip of an onion root is placed near the older part of another onion root tip - about 5-10 mm. away - an area of intense mitosis is found in the older root opposite the point at which the growing point of the other root has been placed. Gurwitsch calls this effect "induction" and assumes that energy passes from the area of mitotic activity and stimulates similar activity in the "induced" root. The same effect has been observed in other plant and animal tissues. The energy he first called "mitogenetische Strahlen" but he now has good evidence that this energy is identical with ultraviolet energy and is hence a form of radiation. He has done an enormous amount of work together with his wife, daughter and students, especially [4|5] on the physical nature of this mitogenetic energy and is now publishing regularly in German. Although received with skepticism for several years, his ideas are now gaining ground, at least in Germany, and his work is now being repeated in other labs. From an examination of his protocols, apparatus and preparations, I am convinced of his sincerity and importance of his work, although I think the fundamental fact of induction should be checked rigorously. As a personality, Gurwitsch is preeminently the honest, sincere, and humble scientist, - I think a really great man. He has absolutely no money or equipment except his microscope, microtome and the induction apparatus which he has made himself from old camera and microscope parts. His living conditions are worse than average, one small dark room for his family. His chief needs however are opportunities for contact with his fellow workers in other countries, an opportunity for his students to get training in other laboratories than his own, and access to foreign literature. I formed the resolution after talking with him to try to persuade some university or association to invite him to America to lecture and demonstrate his new material. He has been invited once to Germany to lecture but only for a short time. Several people from this institute [Dunn is writing from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology at Berlin-Dahlem] who heard him were greatly impressed, but as a scientific radical he has not found general acceptance or appreciation. In my opinion he is the outstanding scientific figure of Moscow and I quote his case in detail to support my contention that it would be of the greatest value to western science to establish close relationships and in particular an exchange of workers with Russia.

A figure of quite a different type but who also represents an important development in biology in Moscow is Zawadovsky, who is director of the Laboratory of Exp. Biol. of the Zoological Park. This laboratory is a large building with good facilities for animal experiments, situated in the Zoological Park. It accommodates about ten investigators and twenty five advanced students in Physiology and experimental morphology from the 2nd University where Zawadovsky holds a professorship. The chief problems are in sex determination and differentiation in mammals and birds, general endocrinology, nutrition, morphogenesis, and parasitology. Here also the guiding principles are a combination of genetic and developmental ideas, as illustrated in the work of Zawadovsky on the mechanism of sex dimorphism and the relation of ductless glands to sex and plumage characters in birds, and in the work of Iljin, an assistant, on the interaction of genetic factors, food, temperature, etc., in determining coat patterns in rabbits and guinea pigs. Zawadovsky is more remarkable for his great energy, organizing ability and experimental ingenuity than for the originality and depth of his ideas. He has discovered many extremely interesting problems and has many people actively at work on material, especially in birds, which seemed quite new to me. This institute is better equipped than any of the university labs although it has the same defects, i.e. absence of good library and technical facilities. It appears to be well supported in respect of space and animals by the Zoological Park of which it forms an integral part.

I was unable to visit the experiment station for the central (Moscow) district which is some 50 kilometers from the city but had [5|6] a conversation in Moscow with Dr. Garkawy, director of the animal breeding section, concerning the work of his section. The chief work is in dairy cattle breeding and a well planned long time experiment is in progress which has as its object the discovery of a system of progeny testing for bulls which can be used under Russian conditions. I had a very good impression of Dr. Garkawy who is fundamentally a biometrician and is well informed in his subject. The experiment station, which has several large estates, includes also research departments in all of the important agricultural branches and its organization and work seems to be modern and soundly based.

I spent an afternoon at the estate of the G.P.U. (Intelligence Service) near Moscow, where a modern poultry and dairy plant for practical educational purposes has recently been built. The cattle work seemed especially good, since they are developing the small, almost dwarf Central Russian cow as a very economical milk producer. The poultry plant, while large, has not yet solved the environmental problems which under Russian weather conditions are very difficult. The farm is stocked with pure bred fowls imported chiefly from Denmark and is to serve as a distribution, breeding and demonstration center. The direction seemed to me to be capable and progressive, and to have laid careful plans for a sound if slow development. Professor Serebrovsky is consultant in the poultry department and other specialists are in the dairy department.

From conversations here and there with men in the Commissariat of Agriculture I had the impression of considerable activity in agricultural organization. The most pressing problems are at present not new research but the modernization of methods and the application of practices discovered in other countries. The greatest activity is in the mechanization of agriculture and farm machinery is being made and imported on a large scale. Much depends on the improvement of communication for the roads are in general bad. Improvement of local races of animals is just beginning, but crop practices are already well advanced. In spite of immediate pressing problems, there is an evident realization of the need of fundamental research. It is significant that Vaviloff's big plant breeding institute at Leningrad was built during the famine years when the immediate business of getting food was most pressing. New stations are being organized throughout the Union and in all research is included on a par with practical work.

In general, as my letters show, my impressions were very favorable. They must be discounted a little for the element of surprise influenced my reaction. I had not expected to find such scientific activity in a country which has gone through an economic revolution and which has no economic surplus at present, and I confess I shared a little the naïve conception of Russia as a benighted land. This has some truth, for Russia is backward in material development as compared with the western nations, but as applied to cultural development it is a misconception. I was nevertheless so pleased to find such life where I had not expected to find it, that perhaps I overestimate its amount and importance. Secondly I saw only the capital city of a huge nation and proportionally the amount of scientific work is probably small. Lastly I suspect that the biological sciences may not be a fair sample since they are probably more highly developed [6|7] just now than some others. Aside from native interest and ability for biological work, there may be another good economic reason for the activity. A Drosophila lab, for example, can do good work without any equipment except a few bottles, an incubator, and some binoculars and genetics in general is in the same situation. And Russia above all is a poor country where such things may determine the direction of scientific activity.

More important than such considerations however is the fact that the people and the atmosphere of good scientific work, as well as a proportionately high degree of public support, are present together in Moscow. It seems to me already the chief European center of genetic research, using genetics in the narrow or American sense, and should soon approach some of the German centers in general biology.

The people that I met are particularly anxious for closer contact with other countries in order to overcome the isolation under which they have labored since 1914. First in order they place library facilities which have improved during the last few years but are still very incomplete. Secondly is the necessity for younger scientists to study in foreign countries so that they can learn other languages and publish in English and German as well as Russian, and so that they can study problems at present outside the range of Russian facilities. I think they entertain no hopes of outside aid for Russian scientific institutions in the way of equipment, etc., and are in general hesitant in answering questions about what they need most, except in respect of books, etc.

It seemed to me that in Moscow more than in any other place I have visited the investment of a little sympathy and interest and perhaps a little money for fellowships or libraries would yield disproportionately high returns. [...]

Sincerely, / L. C. Dunn