Letter from Barbara McClintock to Almiro Blumenschein
In this letter, McClintock thanked Blumenschein for a recent letter and for supplying data that she was able to include in
a report to Bill Brown. She also stated that she regretted the many problems that had developed in their correspondence.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (245,639 Bytes)
1966-08-20 (August 20, 1966)
Original Repository: American Philosophical Society. Library. Barbara McClintock Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Barbara McClintock Papers, American Philosophical Society.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Maps as Topic
Searching for the Origins of Maize in South America, 1957-1981
Letter from Almiro Blumenschein to Barbara McClintock (August 5, 1966)
Letter from Barbara McClintock to William L. Brown (August 9, 1966)
Box Number: 1
Folder Number: 5
August 20, 1966
I was much relieved to receive your good letter of August 5 which arrived two days ago. It told me that I had not received
two communications from you. One of these was the letter that you sent to me in February with enclosed photographs, and the
other was the copy of the letter to the Rockefeller Foundation. Loss of these letters is disturbing. Not only have I wondered
why I had not heard from you but also you must have wondered why I did not respond to these letters. In the future, if I
suspect that a letter has been lost, I shall write again to determine if this might be the case. In the past, you have always
responded promptly. The long silence made me suspect that something was seriously wrong but I could not guess what it might
I am most pleased with your analysis of knob distributions and also with the charts and I thank you for taking the trouble
to inform me so clearly. Also, the photographs you have made are fine. You mentioned difficulties in obtaining photographic
supplies. If you will make a list of those supplies that I might carry with me, I shall bring them to Mexico City at our
With regard to our next meeting, I shall communicate with Dr. Wellhausen to find out from him when it will be convenient for
us to meet in Mexico City. I will telephone to Dr. Wellhausen as it will be the most direct way to get an answer from him.
I believe that we should get together as soon as convenient. Sometime late in October or early November now appears to be
a good time. From you letter I received the impression that such a time would be convenient for you. I have been in constant
contact with Bill Brown by telephone. He is anxious to meet with us and I am pleased that he wants to come. He has some
interesting new information derived from breeding experiments with maize races of some of the Caribbean Islands. I believe
it fits with what we already have learned.
During the past two days, I have been tied-up with a series of conferences and thus I have not had time to study in detail
the data that you sent to me. Nevertheless, from the extensive report in your letter I recognize that we are in agreement
in constructing the relationships of maize in the area that you are examining. I state this because I have spent several
months on organizing the knob data that was available to me. These include the raw data of Longley and Kato received from
Kato in April, on my data, on that of Kato for Mexico (Raleigh data and the more recent Tuxpeno data), and the data you gave
us in Mexico City. I have made separate maps of knob distributions, one for each type of knob, with relative frequencies
of appearance at each location. The data are placed within states for Mexico, Guatemala, and for Brazil. For the other
central American countries, the data is placed directly at the location of collection, as shown in the maps that I gave to
you. Also, I have redone the western South American data to show frequencies at each collection site. The method of plotting
the data for each collection site has been most revealing, especially so for Costa Rica. It allows some quite accurate conclusions
to be drawn. It took me weeks to make these maps as the data had to be reorganized in a manner that would allow me to transfer
it to the maps. I have sent a summarized copy of these maps to Bill Brown. Bill will be in Europe all of September. When
he returns, I will meet with him in Des Moines to go over the details with him, taking your analyses with me. I will bring
the maps with me to Mexico City. I fear to send them by mail to Brazil. Kato is also working on knob distributions and coming
to some conclusions about them. I am pleased that each of us is working independently on this and each in a different way.
Each method will have its distinctive value. We can compare methods and then decide on the value of each for future purposes.
Your summary of administrative difficulties at Piracicaba is not encouraging. We must discuss this and its meaning for you.
I do hope that it will not place you in a difficult position to continue your work, especially now that you will have a person
from Venezuela with you. I am delighted that the Venezuelan races will be examined. I am convinced that it is a most important
I suspect that you will not receive this letter before you start your trip. Although the trip will be strenuous, it should
be most interesting. Please let me know when you return. A short note will do. I will know, then, when I can communicate
with you directly.
Again, many thanks for your most instructive and informative letter. It was much appreciated.