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Elof Carlson Collection

Identifier: EAC

Scope and Content

The Elof Carlson Collection is comprised of personal and professional material accrued by Dr. Carlson primarily during his professional academic career from 1958-2000. Professionally, Dr. Carlson was a professor, a geneticist, and a historian of genetics and the materials reflect these interests. The collection includes course notebooks, lecture notes and teaching files, scientific papers, correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, clippings, and material related to Dr. Carlson’s seminal biography Genes, Radiation and Society about his mentor, Dr. Hermann Muller. Hermann J. Muller (1890-1967) was a Nobel Prize winning geneticist who first showed that exposure to radiation would produce mutations in living organisms. Elof Carlson was his student at the University of Indiana and they became lifelong friends.


  • 1897-2004


Language of Materials


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. p 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.


Elof Axel Carlson was born July 15, 1931 in Brooklyn, New York. He received his B.A. in 1953 from New York University and his Ph.D in Zoology in 1958 from Indiana University where he studied under Hermann J. Muller. He became a lecturer in the Biology Department at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada from 1958-1960 and then both Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Zoology, University of California, Los Angeles (1960-1968). In 1968, he joined the Biology Department of the State University of New York at Stony Brook as full professor, later becoming Distinguished Teaching Professor in 1974. He retired from Stony Brook to become a full time writer in 2000.


54 boxes (22.5 linear feet)


The Elof Carlson Collection documents the professional career of Dr. Elof Axel Carlson as a university level professor through his retirement to become a writer. Professionally, Dr. Carlson is best known for his biography of Nobel prize winning scientist Dr. Hermann J. Muller. The breadth and scope of the collection range from scientific research and laboratory notebooks to humorous essays on modern society.

Arrangement Note

The material is organized into two record groups: The Elof Axel Carlson Papers and Muller Biography Material: Genes, Radiation and Society. While the second record group is comprised solely of Dr. Carlson’s research relating to his book about Dr. Muller, it must be noted that Dr. Muller figures prominently in Dr. Carlson’s other works as a reference, a mentor, and a subject.

The Elof Axel Carlson Papers is divided into 7 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material (1960s-1999) (box 1)

Series 2: Ephemera (1981-1996) (box 1)

Series 3: Articles (1963-2001) (box 2)

Series 4: Photographs (undated-1932) (box 3)

Series 5: Correspondence and Research Files (1957-1997)

Subseries: Teaching Files, by course (1957-1975) (boxes 4-6)

Subseries: Research and Correspondence, alphabetical by subject (1961-1997) (boxes 7-24)

Series 6: Manuscripts (1965-1999) (boxes 25-30)

This series contains Dr. Carlson’s drafts of textbooks, books and course books.

Series 7: Reprints (1897-1987) (boxes 31-33)

This series contains both Dr. Carlson’s reprints and others.

Series 8: Diaries (1963-1997) (boxes 34-37)

Series 9: Laboratory Notebooks (1955-1985) (boxes 38-40)

This series contains both Dr. Carlson’s lab notebooks and others.

Series 10: Audio Visual (2003-2004) (box 41)

These 8 cassette tapes record Dr. Carlson speaking about Dr. Muller.

The Muller Biography Material: Genes, Radiation and Society record group is divided into two series:

Series 1: Muller Research Files: Source Documents on Hermann J. Muller’s Life and Muller Biography Materials (1949, 1981-1982) (boxes 42-50)

Series 2: Muller Manuscript Drafts: Documents on the writing of Muller Biography (1981) (boxes 51-54)

The material was received in an organized state with a general sense of arrangement. Like material was grouped together by the previous processing archivist on the related Hermann J. Muller Collection to assist researchers. The majority of folders arrived with titles and in good condition.


The collection was donated by Elof Carlson. It was received in 2003, accessioned, and partially processed at CSHL Library and Archives in 2005 and 2008. A third processing was completed in November-December 2011.

Related Collections

Hermann J. Muller Collections at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library:

The Lilly Library Hermann Muller Personal Papers Collection:

Elof Carlson Book Collection at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library.
Elof Carlson Collection
Finding Aid Prepared by Amy Driscoll.
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives Repository

Library & Archives
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
One Bungtown Rd
Cold Spring Harbor NY 11724 USA