Scope of the Collection
Title: Thomas Hunt Morgan Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1916-1946
Extent: Number of containers: 10 boxes
Linear feet: 5
California Institute of Technology. Archives.
Pasadena, California 91125
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All
requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing
to the Head of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the
California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not
intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be
obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item, Box and file number], Thomas Hunt Morgan Papers, Archives,
California Institute of Technology.
Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945) is best known for his study of heredity in the fruit fly,
Drosophila melanogaster. He also contributed significantly
to descriptive and experimental embryology, cytology, and evolutionary theory. For his
work in establishing the chromosome theory of heredity--the idea that genes are located
in a linear array on chromosomes--Morgan was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or
medicine in 1933.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1886, Morgan undertook graduate study
in zoology at Johns Hopkins University. From there he took a position at Bryn Mawr
College, where he remained until 1904, when he was offered the chair of experimental
zoology at Columbia University. At Bryn Mawr he met and married Lilian Vaughan Sampson,
who was a distinguished cytologist and took an active role in her husband's work.
In 1927, Caltech officials approached Morgan, who was then 62 years old, with the
proposal to come to Pasadena to set up a new biology program. Funds were to be provided
by the Rockefeller Foundation and various private donors. In 1928, Morgan began the last
phase of his career, the recruitment of a first-rate team of experimental geneticists to
Caltech, among them A. H. Sturtevant, Calvin Bridges, Theodore Dobzhansky, Albert Tyler,
the Dutch biologist C. A. G. Wiersma, and in plant genetics, Ernest Anderson and Sterling
Scope of the Collection
The Morgan papers contain correspondence, technical and course material, papers relating
to the formation of the Biology Division at Caltech and other administrative matters, and
a small amount of biographical material.
A portion of the materials relating to Morgan's career prior to Caltech have been
assembled from the American Philosophical Society (correspondence) and Princeton
University (the E. G. Conklin Papers). These are in xerographic form in Box 6.
The original arrangement and description of the collection was done in 1971 by Phoebe
Sturtevant, the wife of A. H. Sturtevant. Descriptions of the contents of folders, as
well as the item counts, are hers and have been retained in the present guide.
In 1996, files pertaining to the Marine Biology Laboratory at Corona Del Mar, originally
included by Mrs. Sturtevant in the Morgan papers, were removed to the Albert Tyler
Papers. Users of the collection should consult the Tyler papers, as well as those of C.
A. G. Wiersma, and A. H. Sturtevant for further Morgan material.
Charlotte E. Erwin