Advertisement

Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 389–414 | Cite as

The Cold War Context of the Golden Jubilee, Or, Why We Think of Mendel as the Father of Genetics

  • Audra J. Wolfe
Article

Abstract

In September 1950, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) dedicated its annual meeting to a “Golden Jubilee of Genetics” that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the rediscovery of Mendel’s work. This program, originally intended as a small ceremony attached to the coattails of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) meeting, turned into a publicity juggernaut that generated coverage on Mendel and the accomplishments of Western genetics in countless newspapers and radio broadcasts. The Golden Jubilee merits historical attention as both an intriguing instance of scientific commemoration and as an early example of Cold War political theatre. Instead of condemning either Lysenko or Soviet genetics, the Golden Jubilee would celebrate Mendel – and, not coincidentally, the practical achievements in plant and animal breeding his work had made possible. The American geneticists’ focus on the achievements of Western genetics as both practical and theoretical, international, and, above all, non-ideological and non-controversial, was fully intended to demonstrate the success of the Western model of science to both the American public and scientists abroad at a key transition point in the Cold War. An implicit part of this article’s argument, therefore, is the pervasive impact of the Cold War in unanticipated corners of postwar scientific culture.

Keywords

Cold War genetics Gregor Mendel Trofim Lysenko commemorations science and politics freedom ideology anti-Communism Rockefeller Foundation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abir-Am, Pnina G. 1992. “A Historical Ethnography of a Scientific Anniversary in Molecular Biology: The First Protein X-Ray Photograph.” Social Epistemology 6: 323–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abir-Am, Pnina G. 1999. “Introduction.” Pnina G. Abir-Am and Clark A. Elliot (eds.), Commemorative Practices in Science: Historical Perspectives on the Politics of Collective Memory. Osiris 2nd Ser. 14, pp. 1–33.Google Scholar
  3. Abir-Am, Pnina G. and Elliot, Clark A. (eds.). 1999. Commemorative Practices in Science: Historical Perspectives on the Politics of Collective Memory. Osiris 2nd Ser. 14.Google Scholar
  4. Adams, Mark B. 1972. “Genetics and the Soviet Scientific Community, 1948–1965.” PhD dissertation, Harvard University.Google Scholar
  5. Allen, Garland E. 2003. “Mendel and Modern Genetics: The Legacy for Today.” Endeavor 27(2): 63–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beadle, G.W. 1951. “Chemical Genetics.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 221–240.Google Scholar
  7. Brannigan, Augustine. 1979. “The Reification of Gregor Mendel.” Social Studies of Science 9: 423–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carlson, Elof A. 1981. Genes, Radiation, and Society: The Life and Work of H. J. Muller. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Castle, W.E. 1951. “The Beginnings of Mendelism in America.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 59–76.Google Scholar
  10. Comfort, Nathaniel C. 2001. The Tangled Field: Barbara McClintock’s Search for the Patterns of Genetic Control. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cotter, Joseph. 1994. “The Rockefeller Foundation’s Mexican Agricultural Project: A Cross-Cultural Encounter, 1943–1949.” Marcos Cueto (ed.), Missionaries of Science: The Rockefeller Foundation and Latin America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 97–125.Google Scholar
  12. Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. 2008. Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetics Screening. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cull, Nicholas John. 2008. The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945–1989. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Darlington, C.D. 1951. “Mendel and the Determinants.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 315–332.Google Scholar
  15. deJong-Lambert, William and Krementsov, Nikolai. This volume. “Introduction.”Google Scholar
  16. Dietrich, Michael R. 2008. “Striking the Hornet’s Nest: Richard Goldschmidt’s Rejection of the Particulate Gene.” Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich (eds.), Rebels, Mavericks, and Heretics in Biology. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 119–136.Google Scholar
  17. Dobzhansky, Theodosius. 1951. “Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Mendelian Populations and Their Evolution. New York: Macmillan, pp. 573–590.Google Scholar
  18. Dunn, L.C. (ed.). 1951. Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  19. Ephrussi, Boris. 1951. “Remarks on Cell Heredity.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 241–262.Google Scholar
  20. Fisher, Ronald A. 1936. “Has Mendel’s Work Been Rediscovered?’ Annals of Science 1: 115–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fitzgerald, Deborah. 1994. “Exporting American Agriculture: The Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico, 1943–1953.” Marcos Cueto (ed.), Missionaries of Science: The Rockefeller Foundation and Latin America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 72–96.Google Scholar
  22. Fowler, Glenn. 1989. “Paul Mangelsdorf, Botanist, 90.” New York Times 28 July.Google Scholar
  23. Fuller, Steve. 2000. Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Gillis, John R. (ed.). 1994. Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Goldschmidt, Richard B. 1951. “The Impact of Genetics upon Science.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 1–24.Google Scholar
  26. Gormley, Melinda. 2009. “Scientific Discrimination and the Activist Scientist: L. C. Dunn and the Professionalization of Genetics and Human Genetics in the United States.” JHB 42: 33–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Graham, Loren. 1972. Science and Philosophy in the Soviet Union. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  28. Harman, Oren Solomon. 2003. “C. D. Darlington and the British and American Reaction to Lysenko and the Soviet Conception of Science.” JHB 36: 309–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Harwood, Jonathan. 1993. Styles of Scientific Thought: The German Genetics Community, 1900–1933. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  30. Henig, Robin Marantz. 2001. The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel the Father of Genetics. New York: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  31. Hollinger, David A. 1983. “The Defense of Democracy and Robert K. Merton’s Formulation of the Scientific Ethos.” Knowledge and Society 4: 1–15.Google Scholar
  32. Hook, Sidney. 1987. Out of Step: An Unquiet Life in the 20th Century. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  33. Huxley, Julian. 1951. “Genetics, Evolution, and Human Destiny.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 591–621.Google Scholar
  34. Joravsky, David. 1970. The Lysenko Affair. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Kevles, Daniel J. 1985. In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  36. Krementsov, Nikolai. 1996. “A ‘Second Front’ in Soviet Genetics: The International Dimension of the Lysenko Controversy, 1944–1947.” JHB 29: 226–250.Google Scholar
  37. Krementsov, Nikolai. 1997. Stalinist Science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Krementsov, Nikolai. 2007. “In the Shadow of the Bomb: U. S.–Soviet Biomedical Relations in the Early Cold War, 1944–1948.” Journal of Cold War Studies 9: 41–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Krige, John. 2006. American Hegemony and the Postwar Reconstruction of Science in Europe. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  40. Light, Jennifer S. 2003. From Warfare to Welfare: Defense Intellectuals and Urban Problems in Cold War America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Lindee, Susan. 2005. Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Lush, Jay L. 1951. “Genetics and Animal Breeding.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 493–526.Google Scholar
  43. Mangelsdorf, Paul C. 1951. “Hybrid Corn: Its Genetic Basis and Its Significance in Human Affairs.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 555–572.Google Scholar
  44. Matchett, Karin. 2006. “At Odds Over Inbreeding: An Abandoned Attempt at Mexico/United States Collaboration to ‘Improve’ Mexican Corn, 1940–1950.” JHB 39: 345–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mather, Kenneth. 1951. “The Progress and Prospect of Biometrical Genetics.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 111–126.Google Scholar
  46. Mayr, Ernst and Provine, William B (eds.). 1980. The Evolutionary Synthesis: Perspectives on the Unification of Biology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  47. McDougall, Walter A. 1985. The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  48. Medvedev, Z.A. 1971. The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko, trans. by I. Michael Lerner. New York, Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  49. Moore, Kelly. 2008. Disrupting Science: Social Movements, American Scientists, and the Politics of the Military, 1945–1975. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Muller, H.J. 1951. “The Development of Gene Theory.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 77–100.Google Scholar
  51. Olby, Robert. 1979. “Mendel No Mendelian?” History of Science 17: 53–72.Google Scholar
  52. Owen, Ray. 2007. Malcolm Robert Irwin, 18971897: A Biographical Memoir. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Science.Google Scholar
  53. Paul, Diane B. 1983. “A War on Two Fronts: J. B. S. Haldane and the Response to Lysenkoism in Britain.” JHB 16: 1–37.Google Scholar
  54. Paul, Diane B. 1996. Controlling Human Heredity, 1865 to the Present. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  55. Penrose, L.S. 1951. “Genetics of the Human Race.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 393–400.Google Scholar
  56. Pfeiffer, John. 1950. Genetics: The Science of Heredity. Public Affairs Pamphlet No. 165. New York: Public Affairs Committee.Google Scholar
  57. Richmond, Marsha L. 2006. “The 1909 Darwin Celebration: Reexamining Evolution in the Light of Mendel, Mutation, and Meiosis.” Isis 97: 447–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sapp, Jan. 1987. Beyond the Gene: Cytoplasmic Inheritance and the Struggle for Authority in Genetics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Sapp, Jan. 1990. “The Nine Lives of Gregor Mendel.” H.E. Le Grand (ed.), Experimental Inquiries: Historical, Philosophical, and Social Studies of Experimentation in Science. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 137–66.Google Scholar
  60. Selya, Rena. This volume. “Defending Scientific Freedom and Democracy: The Genetics Society of America’s Response to Lysenko.”Google Scholar
  61. Shaw, George Bernard. 1949. “Behind the Lysenko Controversy.” Saturday Review of Literature 16 April: 10–11.Google Scholar
  62. Shepherd, Chris J. 2005. “Imperial Science: The Rockefeller Foundation and Agricultural Science in Peru, 1940–1960.” Science as Culture 14: 113–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Smocovitis, Vassiliki Betty. 1996. Unifying Biology: The Evolution Synthesis and Evolutionary Biology. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Smocovitis, Vassiliki Betty. 1999. “The 1959 Darwinian Celebration in America.” Pnina G. Abir-Am and Clark A. Elliot (eds.), Commemorative Practices in Science: Historical Perspectives on the Politics of Collective Memory. Osiris 2nd Ser. 14, pp. 274–323.Google Scholar
  65. Snyder, Lawrence H. 1951. “Old and New Pathways in Human Genetics.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 369–392.Google Scholar
  66. Sonneborn, T.M. 1951. “The Role of Genes in Cytoplasmic Inheritance.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 291–314.Google Scholar
  67. Soyfer, Valery N. 1994. Lysenko and the Tragedy of Soviet Science, trans. by Leo Gruliow and Rebecca Gruliow. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Sturtevant, A.H. 1951. “The Relation of Genes and Chromosomes.” L.C. Dunn (ed.), Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics During Its First 50 Years. New York: Macmillan, pp. 101–110.Google Scholar
  69. Travis, Anthony. 2006. “Decadence, Decline, and Celebration: Raphael Meldola and the Mauve Jubilee of 1906.” History and Technology 22: 131–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wailoo, Keith and Pemberton, Stephen. 2006. The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine: Ethnicity and Innovation in Tay-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, and Sickle Cell Disease. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Wang, Jessica. 1999. American Science in an Age of Anxiety: Scientists, Anticommunism, and the Cold War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  72. Wang, Jessica. 2002. “Scientists and the Problem of the Public in Cold War America.” Osiris 2nd Ser. 17: 323–347.Google Scholar
  73. Wolfe, Audra J. 2010. “What Does It Mean to Go Public? The American Response to Lysenkoism, Reconsidered.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 40: 48–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations