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Hermann J. Muller Collection I

 Collection
Identifier: HJM

Scope and Content

The Hermann Muller Collection I spans his entire life plus a number of years following his death in which many scientists and historians wrote about his life and work. Series include correspondence, biographical material and memorabilia, research and publications, and photographs. His correspondence is mainly professional and the bulk of it is with his friend and colleague, Edgar Altenburg, and with Elof Carlson. The biographical material primarily consists of autobiographies, items taken from Muller's office at Indiana University upon his death, and obituary articles. The research and publications consist of lectures, photocopies of articles, scientific notes, reprints, audio tape of lectures, and manuscripts of articles (some eventually published, some unpublished). Of particular interest is a letter H.J. Muller wrote to Stalin in 1936 which precipitated his exit from the USSR. Also of note is a large manuscript Muller had been working on for Erwin Baur about the history of Drosophila studies. The manuscript was left incomplete upon the death of Erwin Baur. The photographs in this collection are primarily those used by Elof Carlson for his biography of Muller but also include unlabelled family photographs of unknown origin.

Dates

  • 1907-1982

Creator

Language of Materials

Bulk of materials in English

Access Restrictions

Some restrictions apply, see Archivist for details. Access is given only by appointment, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Use Restriction

Archival materials must remain in the archival reading area. Item duplication is to be done by archivists. Fees are applied to copies made. Digital photography is permitted by users. Due to the very fragile nature of some materials in this collection, some are available through photocopies; others must be used under the supervision of an archivist.

Biography

Hermann Joseph Muller (December 21, 1890-April 5, 1967) was born in New York City. He received a B.A. in 1910 and a Ph.D. in 1915, both from Columbia University, where he was a student of T.H. Morgan in his Drosophila laboratory. After teaching at Rice University and the University of Texas, Muller left the United States in 1932 to work in Berlin and then the USSR. In 1937, he left the Soviet Union and made his way Edinburgh where he married his second wife, Dorothea Kantorowicz. During World War II, Muller and his wife were able to find passage back to the United States and Muller accepted a temporary research position at Amherst College. In 1945, Muller took a position at Indiana University where he conducted his most famous research regarding mutational effects of radiation in Drosophila melanogaster. For this research, he received the Nobel Prize in 1946. Muller took an active role in social-scientific issues writing and lecturing on the effects of radiation in humans, atomic fallout, eugenics, and teaching evolution in schools.

Extent

4.5 linear feet

Overview

Dr. Elof Axel Carlson, a graduate student of H.J. Muller's at Indiana University, a geneticist, and a historian of genetics, donated this collection to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives. He began gathering the material in this collection while studying with H.J. Muller, although he obtained the bulk of the collection while conducting research for Genes, Radiation and Society, his biography of H.J. Muller. He received materials from Dorothea Muller (the wife of H.J. Muller), from friends and correspondents of H.J. Muller, and by copying materials from collections at the Lilly Library at Indiana University and other libraries. He also took some reprints from the Demerec and Davenport reprint collections, currently housed in the basement of the Banbury Center at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Arrangement

Correspondence was organized alphabetically by correspondent's last name. The biographical series and the research and publications series were organized chronologically. I integrated notes, drafts, manuscripts, and reprints since there was some ambiguity and crossover between these materials. Also, there are some folders which represent multiple forms of the same work in different stages of completion.

Wherever possible, I have grouped the items in a thematic way, such that related correspondence, notes, drafts or publications are kept together rather than divided by the type of material. For example, correspondence and clippings regarding Muller's Nobel Prize are grouped together. This reflects the organization created by Elof Carlson during his research for his biography of Hermann Muller. Fortunately, Dr. Carlson was willing to come in to the archives and help explain the significance and provenance of the material he donated. His notes are currently written on the original folders which I kept with the material as I processed the collection.

Thus one can view the organization of this collection as a modification of Elof Carlson's original organization.

Provenance

Dr. Elof Axel Carlson, a graduate student of H.J. Muller's at Indiana University, a geneticist, and a historian of genetics, donated this collection to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives. He began gathering the material in this collection while studying with H.J. Muller, although he obtained the bulk of the collection while conducting research for Genes, Radiation and Society, his biography of H.J. Muller. He received materials from Dorothea Muller (the wife of H.J. Muller), from friends and correspondents of H.J. Muller, and by copying materials from collections at the Lilly Library at Indiana University and other libraries. He also took some reprints from the Demerec and Davenport reprint collections, currently housed in the basement of the Banbury Center at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Title
Hermann J. Muller Collection I
Author
Finding Aid Prepared by AJD
Date
2007
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives Repository

Contact:
Library & Archives
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
One Bungtown Rd
Cold Spring Harbor NY 11724 USA
516-367-6872