Cornell University

Identification of photographs from the Barbara McClintock papers on the National Library of Medicine website

--Kass, LB

While writing and conducting research for an intellectual biography of Barbara McClintock (Kass 1999, 2000, Kass and Murphy 2003, Kass and Provine 1997, 1999), I have located documents that clear up some confusion surrounding dates and identities for some photographs in the Barbara McClintock Papers at the American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) websites have posted photographs from that collection:

In a number of instances dates and identities for these photographs listed on the NLM website are imprecise or missing. Some photos depict McClintock’s Cornell University colleagues during the Golden Age of Corn Genetics, 1928–1935 (Rhoades 1984, Kass and Bonneuil in press). Along with these are photos of McClintock after she left Cornell and accepted an appointment at the University of Missouri in 1936 (Kass unpublished MS). There are also a few photos taken with her siblings.

I have been fortunate to find documents at other institutions and archives that aid in more accurately dating the photographs listed on the NLM website. Additionally, colleagues who knew the persons who are misidentified or unidentified in the published photographs assisted with more accurate identifications. Below I share (in bold) additional details (sources in parentheses) for several published photos that currently appear on the NLM website and in Comfort (2001). More detailed information about sources for dating these photographs will be made available upon request.


The Barbara McClintock Papers
Photographic prints (Alphabetical Listing on NLM websites):

Barbara McClintock [ca. 1920s]

Comfort (2001) approximately dates this close-up photo as McClintock in the 1920s.

Barbara McClintock at the University of Missouri, February 1938 (Western Historical Manuscript Collections, Columbia, Missouri; and George P. Rédei, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri; also see Stadler Genetics Symposia 1976: 3, where a photo is published of Stadler’s Genetics Group at Missouri in 1938, including McClintock [as she appears in this close-up web-photo], W. Ralph Singleton [who provided the group photograph to George Rédei], and Ernest Sears [who identified members in the group]).

Barbara McClintock wearing Groucho Marx glasses [ca. 1985]

Comfort (2001) dates this photo as McClintock ca. 1986.

Barbara McClintock, Cold Spring Harbor, October 14, 1983, photo by Susan G. Cooper. (Susan G. Cooper, Kass interview, March 18, 1997, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory).

Cornell University [1929 or 1930]

Faculty, staff, students and collaborators in the Plant Breeding Department, Cornell University [spring 1929 or fall 1930]. Back row center, left to right: L. F. Randolph, Rollins Adams Emerson and George Beadle. Front Row: Marcus Rhoades 5th from right. (R. P. Murphy and Plant Breeding Department Archives, Cornell University).

Group from Cornell University, including: Charles Burnham, Marcus Rhoades, Ralph Emerson, Almiro Blumenschien and George Beadle (1928)

Corn geneticists in the Plant Breeding Department, Cornell University, 1929. Top Row, left to right: Rollins Adams Emerson, unidentified, Marcus M. Rhoades, Harold M. Perry, L. F. Randolph, Charles Russell Burnham. Bottom Row, left to right: Hsien W. Li, George Beadle, Ernest Dorsey (W. B. Provine's McClintock File, and Plant Breeding Department Archives, Cornell University; Henry M. Munger, and R. P. Murphy, Cornell University). note: Rollins Adams Emerson was misidentified as Ralph Emerson in this photograph. Burnham was an NRC Fellow at Cornell from July to December 1929, therefore the photo is more accurately dated 1929 (Cornell University Archives). Almiro Blumenschein [note spelling] was born in 1931, therefore, he could not possibly be in this 1929 photograph (North Carolina State University Archives).

McClintock with an unidentified man at the Stadler Symposium, University of Missouri-Columbia (April 1978)

The man is George P. Rédei, Department of Agronomy, University of Missouri. The venue is Ed Coe’s laboratory, 210 Curtis Hall, University of Missouri. Photo taken during Stadler Genetics Symposium, 1978 (Richard Whalen, South Dakota State University; Ed Coe, George P. Rédei, University of Missouri).

Portrait of McClintock Siblings, circa 1957 [ca. 1957]

Comfort (2001) approximately dates this photo of McClintock in the 1950’s.

Portrait of McClintock Siblings, May 18, 1947 (California Institute of Technology Archives).

I would be most grateful to Cooperators who can assist with placing names on unidentified persons or dating photos. Please contact me by email, phone 607-255-4876, or by post at Department of Plant Biology, 228 Plant Science Building, Cornell University, Ithaca NY 14853-5908.


Acknowledgements: I thank the National Science Foundation (grants SBR 9511866, SBR 9710488) and the American Philosophical Society Library (Mellon Resident Research Fellowship) for support of archival research for this project, and archivists at institutions cited in the text. I am grateful to persons who assisted me with identifications and helpful insights: Susan G. Cooper, R. P. Murphy, George P. Rédei, Richard Whalen and especially Edward Coe, who urged me to write this note. I gratefully acknowledge constant support and encouragement from Maize Cooperators, colleagues at Cornell University’s L. H. Bailey Hortorium/Department of Plant Biology (especially Robert Dirig), and Department of Plant Breeding, with special thanks to William B. Provine, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


References cited:

Comfort, N. 2001. The Tangled Field. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photos inserted between pages 68 and 69.

Kass, L. B. 1999. Current list of Barbara McClintock's publications. Maize Genetics Cooperation Newsletter 73:42-48. [Online].

Kass, L. B. 2000. McClintock, Barbara, American Botanical Geneticist, 1902-1992. In Plant Sciences. Macmillan Science Library, USA. Pp. 66-69.

Kass, L. B. Unpublished MS, first draft, July 1998. Missouri Compromise: New evidence reveals why Barbara McClintock left academe.

Kass, L. B. and Christophe Bonneuil. (in press). Mapping and Seeing: Barbara McClintock and the linking of genetics and cytology in maize genetics, 1928-1935. In Jean-Paul Gaudilliere and Hans-Jörg (eds.), The Mapping Cultures of 20th Century Genetics: From the Fly Group to the Human Genome Project. London: Routledge.

Kass, L. B. and R. P. Murphy. 2003. Will the real Maize Genetics Garden please stand up? Maize Genetics Cooperation Newsletter 77:41-43. [Online January 2003].

Kass, L. B. and William Provine. 1997. An open letter to maize cooperators. Maize Genetics Cooperation Newsletter 71: iv.

Kass, L. B and W. B. Provine. 1999. Formerly restricted interview with Barbara McClintock, now available at Cornell University Archives. Maize Genetics Cooperation Newsletter. 73:41. [Online 1998].

National Library of Medicine (NLM). 2003. Profiles in Science website. (Barbara McClintock available October 2001).

Rédei, G. P. 1976. PROLEGOMENA. Stadler Genetics Symposia 8:3.

Rhoades, M. M. 1984. The early years of maize genetics. Annual Review of Genetics. 18:1-29.