Press Release: Grant from NYS Documentary Heritage Program makes possible basic processing of CSHL’s “hidden collections”

The Library & Archives of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has received a 2011-2012 Documentary Heritage Program (DHP) grant for “Arrangement and Description of the Hidden Collections of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Legacy Institutions, 1890-1974.”

The amount is $ 17,034 and was awarded as part of the DHP’s mission to ensure the survival of historical records documenting economic change in New York State during the 20th and 21st centuries.

The records pertinent to the grant belong to the entities representing the contemporary Laboratory’s predecessor institutions, and span the period 1890-1974. The project also has provided for basic processing of three personal collections that offer further insight into the work and daily lives of scientists at the Laboratory during that time; and for processing of the collection of the Eugenics Record Office (ERO), which existed at Cold Spring Harbor from 1910 to 1944.

The collections are currently available via CSHL’s online Digital Collections Database ( and online catalog, and will be available through the New York State Archives’ Historical Document Inventory (Archives Grid), as well as other union catalogs (National Union Catalog of Manuscripts and digital repositories, according to Mila Pollock, Executive Director of the CSHL Library & Archives and project director of this effort.    

“The entire CSHL community and other users of these and related CSHL Archives collections will learn more about the origins and history of CSHL, and recognize the value of these collections in documenting the history of science education and research at CSHL and its connection to New York State’s bioscience industry in the 20th and 21st centuries,” Pollock says.

Here is a more detailed description of the collections whose processing has been made possible by the DHP grant award:

The Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences’ Biological Laboratory Collection

This collection documents the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences’ investment in the marine biological laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor, NY, and its evolution from a summer school for biology teachers into a dedicated scientific research laboratory. The collection contains photographs, letters, student lists, Board of Trustees minutes, Directors’ reports, booklets, annual reports, student registration cards, and fundraising records.

The LIBA Biological Laboratory Collection

In 1924, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences withdrew its support and a group of wealthy neighbors took up the cause to sustain science education and research at the Long Island Biological Association (LIBA) Biological Laboratory. This collection contains correspondence, minutes of the Board of Directors, administrative correspondence files, photographs, research files, employment records and financial ledgers.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington Station for Experimental Evolution; The Department of Genetics; and The Genetics Research Unit Collection 

In 1904, the Carnegie Institution of Washington established the Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor. It was this research facility that later merged with the Biological Laboratory to form Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. This collection contains extensive correspondence files, institutional administrative files, photographs, lantern slides, financial ledgers, employment records, and research files.

Eugenics Record Office (ERO) Collection

This collection includes correspondence, documents, photographs, journals, and books from 1910 to 1944, the period during which there was a Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, supported by the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The ERO played a dubious, but significant, role in the social history of the United States. Thus it is important that the ERO Collection should be conserved and preserved.

Hugo Fricke Collection

Dr. Hugo Fricke was the first full-time investigator hired by the Long Island Biological Association in 1929. His research in biophysics, endocrinology, and pharmacology led to future programs at the cutting edge of scientific research. The collection contains laboratory notebooks, correspondence, lantern and glass slides, and reprints.

Amos Avery Photographic Collection

Avery was an associate in plant breeding for the Carnegie Institution of Washington Department of Genetics. This collection of photographs, negatives, and scrapbooks gives a view of the scientific and personal lives of scientists during the early days of the Department of Genetics.

Barbara McClintock Collection

Nobel-prize-winning cytogeneticist Barbara McClintock worked at CSHL for 50 years. The McClintock Collection contains photographs, correspondence, reprints, and a slide collection, all annotated by Dr. McClintock. The collection also includes actual corn kernels and photocopies of Dr. McClintock’s field notebooks and card files. Recently accessioned materials from Dr. McClintock’s laboratory include books, published materials, microscope, office equipment, and laboratory equipment.

About this project and the Documentary Heritage Program, NYS Archives
“Arrangement and Description of the Hidden Collections of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Legacy Institutions, 1890-1974” was made possible in part by a grant from the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department.  For more information, please visit:

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