The original blog of the CSHL Archivists was located at http://cshlarchives.blogspot.com/

Celebrating Women's History Month - Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock in the cornfield at CSHL, ca. 1950s

Barbara McClintock excelled at a time when there were very few women in science. She faced discrimination throughout her studies and work, such as being asked to sit outside the door while the men discussed her experimental results. She couldn’t understand why women and men couldn’t have better relationships and was so perplexed by it, that she believed there must be a biological reason behind it (Nancy Hopkins, Oral History).

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Printing Blunders

 

I came across this clipping in Sydney Brenner’s Collection. It is a newspaper clipping from the May 10th, 1978, "Daily Camera," about Jean Watson, a Nursing Professor in Colorado. This clipping features a photograph of “Jean Watson;" however, this photograph is not of Jean Watson, but is actually of James D. Watson.

 

Besides a good laugh and probably some embarrassment for Jean Watson of Boulder, Colorado, this article serves as a reminder of the importance of checking primary resources and conducting research on your own. You can’t trust everything you read; even the professionals get things wrong sometimes.

Evelyn Witkin Collection

witkin

Witkin and A.H. Sparrow at the 1947 CSH Symposium

The following is another post in our series highlighting the collections that are being processed through the NHPRC Basic Processing Grant.

Evelyn M. Witkin is an American geneticist whose research has been widely influential in the areas of DNA mutagenesis and DNA repair.

The Evelyn Witkin Collection at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory consists of three series including Dr. Witkin’s professional correspondence with Nobelist Barbara McClintock, Joshua Lederberg, and Ruth Sager among others. There is a complete collection of her personal reprints as well as historical documents related to her work on the “SOS Response”.

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The Office of Technology Transfer Collection

Biotech

The following is another post in our series highlighting the collections that are being processed through the NHPRC Basic Processing Grant.


The Office of Technology Transfer Collection documents CSHL’s first inroads into the world of Biotechnology.  Research that was initially carried out in academic laboratories led to the development of recombinant DNA techniques.  This in turn stimulated entrepreneurial scientists to create biotechnology companies. Recombinant DNA is the technology that allows us to insert genes from one organism into another to make it produce a protein product, copy the gene multiple times, or give it a new trait. The discovery of recombinant DNA was considered the "birth" of modern biotechnology.  

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Francois Jacob, 1920-2013

Jacob clipping

Last Friday famed molecular biologist Francois Jacob passed away.  Jacob, along with Andrew Lwoff and Jacques Monod, was awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for identifying messenger RNA and their work on gene regulation.  This research was conducted during the golden age of molecular biology--the period from the late 1940s until the early 1960s when our understanding of genetics grew leaps and bounds.  Jacob described the tight-knit community of scientists at the time in an oral history interview for Web of Stories:

Read more: Francois Jacob, 1920-2013 

CSHL Map and Bluepint Collection

The following is another post in our series highlighting the collections that are being processed through the NHPRC Basic Processing Grant.

“To put a city in a book, to put the world on one sheet of paper -- maps are the most condensed humanized spaces of all...They make the landscape fit indoors, make us masters of sights we can't see and spaces we can't cover.”
― Robert Harbison, Eccentric Spaces

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is listed on the Historic Register of Places in New York. Our Map and Blueprint Collection is the only place to find many of the unique maps dating from the 1890s. Even the local historical societies do not have these maps, which represent the history of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. This Collection is truly a record of the evolution of the property, buildings and institution in its entirety.

The Cold Spring Harbor Map and Blueprint Collection consists of topographical maps, architectural drawings, pencil drawings, pencil sketches, and blue prints of the grounds and buildings over the course of 140 years.

 
These records have been stored on site since their creation, originally in administrative offices under various Laboratory Directors until their removal to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives. Most of the material designates the sibling institutions that commissioned the work: Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Long Island Biological Association and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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Banbury Reports Collection

The following is another post in our series highlighting the collections that are being processed through the NHPRC Basic Processing Grant.

In 1976, Charles Sammis Robertson, who lived in Lloyd Harbor, about 5 miles from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, gave his estate on Banbury Lane, together with an endowment for its upkeep, to the Cold Spring Harbor Lab for use as a conference center.  This postcard, incorporating a photo taken by R. Meurer, captures the Charles Sammis Robertson House looking towards Coopers Bluff.

BanburyPostcard

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An Ode to Bacteriophage Lambda

Lambda-Poem

Poem by Richard O. Roblin III, who was a student of James D. Watson at Harvard University in the mid to late 1960s.


Digitized as part of the "Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics" project.

Watson on The War on Cancer

Watson-Cancer-Clip

Dr. Watson has been in the news again lately after publishing a paper in the Royal Society's journal Open Biology.  In the paper Watson questions the benefits of anti-oxidants and criticizes the U.S.'s current "war on cancer."

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From One Nobel Prize Winner to Another

JDW 02 02 1516 080

Ever since Dr. Watson won his Nobel Prize in 1962 people have been seeking his autograph.  As part of our digitization project, I'm creating metadata for these autograph requests and I'm plugging names into the Library of Congress Name Authority File to see if anyone of interest pops up.  I often wonder if the people who wrote to Watson later went on to achieve anything of note themselves.  

Read more: From One Nobel Prize Winner to Another

Early Impressions of The Double Helix

One thing that I have learned about Dr. Watson as a writer is that he is not shy about sharing unfinished drafts with colleagues.  We have scores of letters from the likes of Paul Doty, Tom Maniatis, and Matt Meselson commenting on early versions of Avoid Boring People.  He also famously shared drafts of The Double Helix with Crick and Wilkins, who were, somewhat understandingly, appalled.

As part of the "Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics" digitization project, we will soon be making these letters freely available online for the first time.


I found one particular set of letters regarding an early draft of The Double Helix very interesting.  Watson had sent a copy of the manuscript to an acquaintance in the summer of 1965, who subsequently sent a series of letters back to Watson documenting her delight with the draft.  Her name was Suzanne Reeder, had just left Cambridge (Massachusetts), and was obviously close with Watson.  The letters start in July 1965.  She mentions attending a conference in Berlin, as well as meeting Odile Crick in Cambridge sometime earlier, before returning home to England.  Towards the end of the letter she indicates that she will be flying back to the states, and then asks for a copy of the book.

SUZ01

Read more: Early Impressions of The Double Helix 

Cold Spring Harbor Audio Visual Collection

 

Processing the Cold Spring Harbor Audio Visual Collection was a unique experience due to the volume and scope of the Collection. The Collection overall consists of 4,950 pieces of media, in 11 different formats and takes up about 130 linear feet of shelf space, depending how you count it. It was grouped by format but hadn’t been looked at in years, which meant that old inventory lists, if they existed, were no longer accurate.  I had to start over cataloguing the media which took about 165 hours.  Keeping the Collection grouped by media made sense on one level (as opposed to grouping by subject matter) because much of the media was not readable and the processing often became a game of “Name that obsolete Format”.  Below is a photograph of the Analog Video Formats.Analog-Video-Formats

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