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The Joshua Lederberg Papers

Letter from James D. Watson to Joshua Lederberg pdf (1,138,135 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from James D. Watson to Joshua Lederberg
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (1,138,135 Bytes)
1957-03-06 (March 6, 1957)
[Watson, James D.]
Lederberg, Joshua
Reproduced with permission of James D. Watson.
Lederberg Grouping: No Epoch
Box Number: 71
Folder Number: 12
Unique Identifier:
Accession Number:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Research
SubSeries: Genetics
SubSubSeries: University of Wisconsin
SubSubSubSeries: Correspondence
Folder: Harvard University, 1957-1958
March 6, 1957
Dear Joshua
I just wish to say how very much I hope that you accept the offer to come to Harvard and become a member of this department. I think I can very fairly say that the spirit of this department is changing very rapidly and that the President and Dean Bundy will support very strongly our efforts to make this the most alive laboratory of experimental Biology in this country. There is certainly now no need to convince the people here that modern biology is here to stay and that new appointments must be made in that direction.
I certainly have had no regrets about coming here -- In fact I'm terribly pleased to be here. When I was raised in the mid-west I was frequently told that Harvard was a frightfully stuffy place and I could never imagine myself wanting to be a part of it. This, however is just not true and it would be very hard to find more genuine people than John Edsall or Kenneth Thimann. I have been and in the future will be even more strongly connected with John Edsall. We now have just received a very large grant of 180,000 dollars to build up a modern laboratory for protein chemistry and it is my intention to concentrate as much as possible upon precise characterizations of the proteins and nucleic acids of viruses and bacteria. We also have an application into the NSF to procure a new Siemens, by far the best EM now
In the long term, however, I feel the future of this department must be in embryology (in the broad sense), and in those problems which relate to growth. It is the very important whom we get along these lines. We have tried to persuade Aston [?] Mitchison [?] to come here, and despite his first refusals, we have not given up hope. I certainly feel he is the best person we could get, especially as he comes from genetics. There is also the possibility that Moscone will be here, at least for next year.
I am finding the Cambridge and the Boston region a very pleasant environment to live in. I know that Madison is very nice but I think this is equally as good, and certainly is some cultural equal music there is no freer place to live. There is also the fact that Harvard is a very great university -- there is something very comforting about being a member of its faculty -- there is a security which very few universities can offer. The University of Chicago is one, but beside it, there are very few.
I am quite aware that we have much to gain if you come here -- on the other hand, I would also press that you and Esther would both benefit for I feel most strongly that Harvard and its tradition for learning and liberal ideas is a most splendid place to be.
With best wishes to both you and Esther
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