Part of:
James D. Watson Collection
  • Archives and manuscripts

Collection contents

About this work


The correspondence series includes handwritten and typed letters, carbon copies, invitations, postcards and notes dating from 1946 to 2011.

The bulk of the material covers Watson’s sojourn in Cambridge (1951-54), Harvard (1956-1968) and as Director (1968-1994) and President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (1994-2003). Watson’s career at the Copenhagen Crystallography Lab and time at California Institute of Technology are touched upon as well. The concerns addressed in the body of this series are the results and problems with experiments, fundraising and planning for meetings, and comments on manuscripts. The issue of scientific ethics is addressed through his correspondence with David Baltimore; Norton Zinder discusses recombinant DNA; and Robert Cook-Deegan deals with the Human Genome project. Many letters, such as the correspondence with his father, James, are personal in tone and discuss social activities, travel plans, and advice, during the Cambridge and Harvard years.

Correspondents include, but are not limited to, the immediate family, personal friends, university professors, biologists, geneticists, students, publishing firms, medical doctors, charitable foundations, and businessmen.

This series also contains a fair number of letters of recommendation and award nominations for scientists such as Mark Ptashne, Nancy Doe Hopkins, Amar Klar and David Baltimore.

The files sometimes contain non-correspondence, including manuscripts, reprints, and clippings. Of note are research papers submitted to Watson while teaching at Harvard University. These students include Richard Burgess, Mario Capecchi, and Gary Gussin.

The reference JDW/2/2/800 no longer exists. This item is now part of JDW/2/3/7.



Physical description

100 Boxes

Copyright note

Please note that CSHL holds copyright in writings by Watson that are held within Watson's archive in the CSHL Library and Archives, but does not hold copyright in Watson's writings held outside the CSHL Library and Archives. Copyright of material created by persons other than Watson, published or unpublished, is retained by its original author or rightsholder.

Terms of use

The majority of papers are open and available at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives unless otherwise stated. Please see individual items for access conditions.

Location of duplicates

A digitised copy is held by the Wellcome Library as part of Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics.

Where to find it

Location of original

The original material is held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives. This catalogue is held by the Wellcome Library as part of Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics.

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