On Russian Easter, 1946, Miriam and I were invited to the Dobzhansky's along with several other couples (probably the
Rhoadeses, the John Moores, and the Mirskys) to sample Natasha Dobzhansky's Easter goodies. When everyone else left the
dining room table, Mirsky and I stayed behind to chat. It was then that he told me I would have to read two papers in order
to catch up on the advances in genetics during W.W. II: Avery's work on transformation and Sonneborn's on the killer
factor (plasmagenes, in the terminology of the time).
While it is true that Mirsky was critical in seminars of the notion that DNA was the transforming substance, he expressed
no reservation nor criticism when he told me that I must read Avery's paper. I doubt that his criticisms impeded the
sense of importance which he himself attached to this work.
Miriam supports your claim that Columbia was very much aware of the events going on at Rockefeller. There were three excellent
women students at Columbia at that time: Harriet Taylor, Evelyn Maizel (Witkin), and Evelyn Hagen. Ev Hagen did not go on
in science but, according to Miriam, she was extremely excited by Avery's findings, (I believe Ev Hagen was Ballentyne's
graduate student at the time.)
During your talk I thought of still another (minor) example of an "unappreciated" observation -- it has slipped my
mind. Should it occur to me later, I shall send it along.