Guido Pontecorvo collection now online

The papers of Guido Pontecorvo, the University’s first Professor of Genetics, have now been catalogued.  Pontecorvo was an influential Italian geneticist who established the Department of Genetics at the University of Glasgow through hard work and determination.  He was well liked by colleagues and friends and managed to attract notable geneticists to his Department from all corners of the globe. A full biography and details of the material in the collection can be found here.

The collection includes correspondence relating to Pontecorvo’s genetics research and the patents filed for his discovery of the parasexual cycle; correspondence relating to the Department of Genetics at the University of Glasgow, and to academic and research positions he held (and applied for) over the years. There is also a set of his main publications and reprints; draft notes for lectures and seminars on his main research interests, such as PEG cell fusion, the use of Aspergillus as a genetic tool, recombination, somatic cell genetics, and alpine plants; papers relating to his research trips abroad; and a selection of personal and family papers, including household accounts, his wife’s memoirs and family photographs and negatives.

One of the most interesting items in the collection is the Pontecorvo guestbook which contains signatures and messages from family, friends, and colleagues who visited the Pontecorvo household over the years; from the signatures of the witnesses at their wedding in September 1939 (who werecarrying gas masks as war had been declared a few days before) to signatures of people who attended Pontecorvo’s 91st birthday celebrations in November 1998. Photos, presscuttings, letters and cards are enclosed within the pages. It is a fascinating little book showing Pontecorvo’s huge network of scientific colleagues from all over the world who were encouraged to visit Glasgow because of Pontecorvo’s influence and his warmth and hospitality.

These pages of the guestbook include signatures of famous geneticists who visited Pontecorvo's house including Curt Stern, James Dewey ("Jim") Watson, and Herschel L Roman

We would like to thank the Wellcome Trust for funding this cataloguing project through their Research Resources in Medical History grants scheme. The Pontecorvo collection is one of three collections we hold on Glasgow geneticists (the other two being papers of James Harrison Renwick and the papers of Malcolm Andrew Ferguson-Smith). If you are interested in finding out more about any of these collections or are keen to use them for a research project please contact us.

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1 reply


  1. 16th century view of the brain « University of Glasgow Library

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