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David E. Muller, 2004-07-15

 Item — Multiple Containers
Oral History | David E. Muller
Oral History | David E. Muller

Scope and Contents

David E. Muller discusses the following in his interview: LIFE IN SCIENCE: At Caltech; Discussions With His Father; Early Life; Early Memories About Family Life; Learning Russian; N.V. Timofeev-Resovskii; Relationship with his Father While Growing Up; The Letters Saved by his Mother; The Mullers Interest in Communism; "The Spark" A Radical Publication; Visiting Germany in 1933; Visiting Leningrad and Learning about Parents' Divorce; Work in Early Computers at the University of Illinois; 1930 Austin, Texas: Agol, Levit, and Offermann; Hermann Muller Leaving Russia; Hermann Muller: Professional Relationship; Vavilov Visits the Mullers in Austin.

CSHL: At The 1941 Cold Spring Harbor Symposium.


  • Creation: 2004-07-15


Conditions Governing Access

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online: Select tapes have been digitized thanks to support from CLIR Recordings at Risk Grant awarded in 2021, these tapes are available for research online via our Oral History Website and in person at CSHL Archives. Please contact CSHL Archives with any questions regarding availability.

Biographical / Historical

David E. Muller (born 1924, Austin Texas-died 2008, Las Cruces, New Mexico). He was the son of Hermann J. Muller, who received a Nobel Prize in 1946 for his discovery of x-ray induced mutations in Drosophila melanogaster, and Jesse Jacobs Muller Offermann, a mathematician and first wife of H.J. Muller.

In the 1930’s, H.J. Muller left his laboratory at the University of Texas to work at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. He then moved to Russia where he joined the Institute of Genetics and later the Institute of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh. During this time, David and his mother traveled to Germany and Russia to visit his father. After H.J. Muller’s return to the United States in 1940, David reunited with his father at the 1941 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Symposium for Quantitative Biology. Afterward, David returned to school at Caltech and H.J. Muller to his appointments at Amherst College (1940-1945) and Indiana University (1945-1967).

Following in his mother’s footsteps, David became a mathematician and began working with computers at the University of Illinois in 1952. There he designed the Muller C-element, which is a commonly used component in computers. He taught at the University of Illinois until 1992 at which time he retired.

In April 2005, David donated his collection of photographs and personal letters written primarily by his parents and Carlos Offermann (one of H.J. Muller’s top graduate students and David’s step-father) to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives. The letters were written between 1900 and 1945, although the bulk of the letters date from the early 1920’s when H.J. Muller took his first trip to Europe and the 1930’s when H.J. Muller was working in Germany, Russia, and the UK. These letters also cover the period of time when H.J. Muller made his Nobel-winning discoveries.

(Anthony Dellureficio, June, 2008)


2 Cassettes (Camcorder footage) : MiniDV - CSHL1117, CSHL1118

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English