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The Rosalind Franklin Papers

Letter from Aaron Klug to Philip Siekevitz pdf (73,818 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Aaron Klug to Philip Siekevitz
Anne Sayre's 1975 biography made Franklin's many accomplishments much more widely known, and she was posthumously honored as a pioneering feminist as well as an excellent scientist. The president of the New York Academy of Sciences asked Aaron Klug to recommend Franklin for a special "woman of science" award. In this letter, Klug responded, and recommended that Franklin be honored for her crucial contributions, not as a "woman of science." She was never an active feminist, he noted, and might have found it distasteful to be celebrated as one.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (73,818 Bytes)
1976-04-14 (April 14, 1976)
Klug, Aaron
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Siekevitz, Philip
New York Academy of Sciences
Original Repository: Churchill Archives Centre. The Papers of Rosalind Franklin
Reproduced with permission of Aaron Klug.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Awards and Prizes
Exhibit Category:
Biographical Information
Metadata Record Letter from Philip Siekevitz to Aaron Klug (March 26, 1976) pdf (37,687 Bytes) transcript of pdf
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Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Series: Biographical Notes, Obituaries and Articles about Rosalind Franklin
Folder: Klug's Article about Franklin and her Work, 1968-1976
14 April 1976
Dear Phil,
Thank you for your letter of 26 March. I am not sure what you would like from me. I have written two articles (Nature (1968) 219, 808-810 and Nature (1974) - 218 787-783) setting out Rosalind Franklin's contribution to the solution of the structure of DNA, and I think everyone agrees she played a major role in it. We also now know that she was closer to the solution than many people realized, but, characteristically, didn't complain at being "beaten" since there never was a "race".
However, if she is to be honoured, it should be not so much as a "woman of science" but for her crucial contributions in sorting out the A and the B forms, establishing that the phosphates were on the outside and determining the helical parameters which were" used by Crick and Watson in their model.
The fact is Rosalind was never an active feminist, but simply evoked or created respect in her own right as a person, arid I think she might have found some of the present attitudes somewhat distasteful. There is also, inevitably, a fair amount of discussion as to whether she would have solved the structure on her own. One can only guess, but my view, as stated, is that she would have done so eventually, though not with the characteristic flourish of Crick. It is sometimes said that she made a strategical mistake in pursuing the A form, and so on, but I think again one is only saying that she wasn't Francis Crick.
It is clear that she was an outstandingly good experimental scientist with acute powers of observation and a clear powerful mind, but not of the highly imaginative variety. I think she was of the first rank and , doubtless, had she lived, would have accumulated many honours.
Yours sincerely,
A. Klug
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