Letter from Joshua Lederberg to "Beets" [George W. Beadle]
In the early 1970s, Lederberg worked diligently to dispel what he believed was the "myth" that Avery's work on
the "transforming principle" was not widely appreciated by scientists when it first appeared in the mid-1940s. In
this letter, Lederberg asked Beadle if he could supply him with any correspondence sent to him from either Francis or Lederberg
in the period immediately following Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty's 1944 article.
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1972-09-13 (September 13, 1972)
Beadle, George W.
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Some of the enclosed may amuse, more than enlighten, you. I can't understand
how Wyatt could underestimate how well you had passed the word in 1944-45!
I write particularly to ask if you have any copies of correspondence from Francis or from me, esp. 1944-45 relating to the
origins of ideas about (1) transforming Neurospora, or (2) recombination in E. coli. I would like to write in some more detail
about that period, before other mythologies crystallize; and better documentation would be most helpful. If you have anything
else on the subject, I would certainly appreciate that too. The matter could get very large if it also encompassed the threads
from Luria/Delbruck/Demerec and perhaps Salva should be encouraged to put his on the record. PATOOMB has already recorded,
larger than life, that particular side of things.
I will be writing about this to others, especially of course to Ed.