Center for Humanities

The interdisciplinary mission of the Center for Humanities and History of Modern Biology at CSHL is to promote an understanding of how modern biology has impacted history and the cultural ramifications of that discipline over time. The Center is envisioned as a destination for historians, scholars, researchers, and artists of all stripes to use the original historical materials in our archives for their projects, bringing the rich history contained in our archives to light through academic publications and public works of art. The Center for Humanities and History of Modern Biology features seminars, workshops, lectures, and more pertaining to the impact of modern biology on culture, philosophy, and society from a wide variety of fellows and visiting artists and scholars, as informed by our extensive collections. The Center also provides the Sydney Brenner Research Scholarship and Research Travel Grants to support research utilizing our archives, as well as the Ellen Brenner Memorial Fellowship, which is open to perspective archivists or science librarians.

The goal of the center as a whole is not only to attract more scholars, educators, and historians to our collections but also to promote and distribute the vast array of archival materials that are hidden in our collections related to the development of modern biology.

Institutional Archives

The Institutional Archives, which documents the 125-year history of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory through collecting the materials of its researchers as well as records relating to the Lab’s operations. These include administrative records, contracts, trustees’ meeting minutes, plans and blueprints, and reprints. These materials not only document the scientific legacies of the Laboratory and its faculty, but also the professional and social interactions of CSHL researchers.

CSHL Archives Mission

Officially established in 1972, the CSHL Archives houses unique materials relating to breakthrough discoveries and world-recognized research from 1890, as well as, participates in broad scholarly and educational programs.

The mission of the CSHL Archives is to identify, collect, preserve, and provide access to original materials documenting the history of molecular biology and genetics worldwide and the 125- year history of CSHL and its role in modern biology. This documentary evidence is made available worldwide. In doing so, the CSHL Archives strives to advance its role as a premier repository of documents reflecting the development of molecular biology and genetics.

The CSHL Archives:

  • Provides access to our materials to scholars, students, educators, and the public
  • Promotes leading-edge uses of these materials by scholars, authors, filmmakers, visual artists, and other creatives
  • Develops scholarly, educational, and public programs for the worldwide community

The CSHL Archives fulfills its mission by:

  • Identifying, acquiring, and preserving original materials (rare books, manuscripts, lab notebooks, correspondence, photographs, scientific reprints, born digital, etc.) on the history of molecular biology, genetics, life sciences, and biotechnology
  • Digitizing our collections to reach as broad an audience as possible
  • Offering scholarships to support research using primary resources on different topics in molecular biology, genetics, life sciences, and biotechnology
  • Offering a fellowship program for professionals who are interested in learning and building professional skills in scientific archives
  • Organizing annual history of science meetings and special events that bring together scientists, scholars, journalists, and the public to discuss the intersection of science and history
  • Creating and curating exhibitions

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Availability of Material

For specific information on the availability of materials or to arrange an appointment to use the Archives, please contact (516)367-8414 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please consult our Permissions & Copyright Policies for any materials you wish to use.

This collection was processed under the grant History and Development of Molecular Biology: New Sources through the Hidden Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives Collections (1890-1910), (NAS11-RB-50178-11). Funding provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. nhprc-2-m