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Lewis (Edward B.) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections
    Title: Edward B. Lewis Papers
    Creator: Lewis, Edward B., 1918-2004 (Biologist, Geneticist)
    Identifier/Call Number: 10225-MS
    Physical Description: 22.5 linear feet (53 standard archival boxes, 2 half size archival boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1917-2004
    Date (bulk): 1946-1996

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research. Researchers must make an appointment for access. Some files are closed due to privacy and confidentiality. Consult the Caltech Archives for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright may not have 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 Caltech Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Original accession acquired from the Edward B Lewis estate in 2004. Additional accessions acquired from the Caltech Biology Division, E. Meyerowitz, and Stephanie Canada from 2004 through 2008.

    Processing Information

    Charlotte E. Erwin began processing the collection, through 2008-2010. Penelope Neder-Muro completed processing the papers in November 2018. The audiovisual and digital material, which includes VHS, reels, and compact discs of computer files are unprocessed.

    Biographical / Historical

    Edward Butts Lewis was born on May 20, 1918 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Biostatistics from the University of Minnesota in 1939. Under the guidance of Alfred S. Sturtevant, Lewis earned his PhD from Caltech in 1942. During World War II, Lewis served as a meteorologist and oceanographer in the United States Army Air Force. From 1946-1948, Lewis began his teaching career as Instructor, and advanced to Assistant, Associate Professor, Professor through 1948-1966, and Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Biology from 1966-1988. He became emeritus in 1988 until his passing on July 21, 2004.
    In 1995, Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and shared a third of the prize with Christiane Nüsslein-Vollhard and Eric F. Wieschaus, "for their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development."
    For more information on Edward Lewis, the transcript to his 1984 oral history conducted by Rachel Prud'homme can be found at Caltech Archives Oral Histories  

    Scope and Contents

    The Edward B. Lewis papers collection document his professional work as a geneticist. Some materials of interest include Lewis's lab notebooks regarding his work in Drosophila research, genetics, and radiation studies. The collection also has correspondence with professional colleagues and many archival boxes of material related to his winning of the Nobel Prize, including congratulatory notes and ceremony festivities documents. There are also many photographic prints of scanning electron microscope images of mutant drosophila, and also some personal family photos.


    The Edward B. Lewis Papers are housed in 53 archival boxes and 2 half size archival boxes. The papers are organized into five series, with all series containing subseries: 1. Correspondence, 2. Scientific Notes and Writings, 3. California Institute of Technology, 4. Biographical and Personal, 5. Photographs and Audiovisual.
    Series 1: Correspondence is organized into four subseries. Subseries 1: General correspondence, is in alphabetical order according to personal name, and according to university or organization name. Subseries 2: Recommendations are in alphabetical order. All correspondence in this subseries are closed to researchers. Subseries 3: Vital Statistics Correspondence, are in chronological order, and mostly include death certificate requests for radiation studies research. Subseries 4: Radiation Correspondence is organized into chronological order.
    Series 2: Scientific Notes and Writings is arranged into six subseries. Subseries 1: Drosophila and Genetics – Experiments, Lab Notes, and Notebooks is in chronological order, with the undated material found after the dated material. Subseries 2: Drosophila and Genetics – Matings (Cross books) is arranged in chronological order and includes Lewis's lab notebooks from 1939 to 2004. Subseries 3: Drosophila – Salivary Glands are arranged by original order, which is by record number. Subseries 4: Radiation Studies is arranged in original and functional order, and includes data, reviews, publications, and all Lewis's materials related to somatic effects of radiation. Subseries 5: Conferences and Writings is arranged in three subgroups, conferences and talks, writings, publications, and is in mostly chronological order, with undated material after the dated material. Subseries 6: Drosophila Stocks, Lab, and Miscellaneous is arranged in chronological order and includes an array of material related to Lewis's Drosophila lab.
    Series 3: California Institute of Technology is arranged into four subseries. Subseries 1: Teaching is arranged in chronological order and includes Lewis's handouts and labs. Subseries 2: Biology Division is arranged in chronological order and contains memos and miscellaneous administrative material. Subseries 3: Grants is arranged in chronological order and contains grant proposals and applications with accompanying documentation. Subseries 4: Faculty contains folders of biographical material or correspondence of select Caltech faculty, including Calvin Bridges and Alfred Sturtevant.
    Series 4: Biographical and Personal is arranged in four subseries. Subseries 1: Nobel prize is arranged in functional order and chronological order and includes ceremony programs, congratulations, and publicity surrounding the prize. Subseries 2: Additional Awards and Honors is arranged in alphabetical order. Subseries 3: Biographical is arranged in mostly chronological order and includes various writings about Lewis. Subseries 4: Personal is a small portion of ephemeral material and Lewis's charitable donations.
    Series 5: Photographs and Audiovisual is arranged in four subseries. Subseries 1: Photographs – Drosophila and Genetics includes several prints of scanning electron microscope images of drosophila at various stages of development. Subseries 2: Photographs – Personal includes portraits of Lewis, Nobel prize ceremony, and some family photos.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Developmental biology
    Developmental genetics
    Nobel Prize
    Nobel Prize winners