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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation


Institute receives cytology microscope slide collection

15 August 2018

The Hunt Institute is honored to announce the acquisition of the Cornell University Cytology Microscope Slide Collection (teaching) that was used and expanded at Cornell by Lester W. Sharp and his students, Barbara McClintock, Charles H. Uhl and Lowell F. Randolph. This is both a historically and scientifically important collection as McClintock made many of the slides when she was Sharp's student and teaching assistant. Encompassing almost six hundred slides, the collection was used from the 1900s through the 1990s.

Lester Sharp (1887–1961) was an American botanist and a pioneer in cytogenetics. Arriving at Cornell University in 1914, he continued the teaching of cytology and expanded its connection with heredity by offering a specialized Advanced Cytology course (Botany 224) in 1935, retitled Cytogenetics in 1948 by Randolph, who taught it through 1962. Sharp's Introduction to Cytology published in 1921 was the first American textbook with an emphasis on plant cytology and was a standard for decades with numerous editions and translations. Following Sharp's retirement (1947), Uhl taught elementary Cytology and then inherited the Cytogenetics course from Randolph. Barbara McClintock (1902–1992), an American scientist and cytogeneticist, was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of movable genetic elements in maize. She was the first woman to be the sole winner of this award. L. F. Randolph (1894–1980) and Charles Uhl (1918–2010) both were American botanists, cytogeneticists and cytotaxonomists. Together these four renowned scientists developed Cornell University's plant cytology and cytogenetics programs into a center of distinction.

As part of the preservation effort the Institute plans to digitize the collection and make it available online.

About the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a research division of Carnegie Mellon University, specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. To this end, the Institute acquires and maintains authoritative collections of books, plant images, manuscripts, portraits and data files, and provides publications and other modes of information service. The Institute meets the reference needs of botanists, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.

Media Contact:
Scarlett T. Townsend