Letter from William L. Brown to Almiro Blumenschein
In this letter to Blumenschein, Bill Brown cautioned the Latin American scholar not to draw conclusions regarding the origin
and migration of certain races of maize until a full collection of Brazilian varieties could be made. From his cautionary
language it is evident that the subject was a matter of some contention among maize geneticists in the 1960s.
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2 (121,325 Bytes)
1965-08-30 (August 30, 1965)
Brown, William L.
Original Repository: American Philosophical Society. Library. Barbara McClintock Papers
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Searching for the Origins of Maize in Latin America, 1957-1981
Box Number: 1
Folder Number: 6
August 30, 1965
I was much interested in your letter of July 19 describing some of your recent cytological findings in certain South American
Most people, including myself who have worked with South American maize, have ideas relative to the origin and relationships
of many of the described races. It seems to me, however, that the important thing to do is to continue to accumulate facts
just as you are now doing, and keep our tentative notions as to relationships in the background until all the facts are in.
I have a feeling your cytological data will, in the end, tend to support rather than refute the mote critical morphological
findings, yet I would not be surprised to find these to disagree violently with some of the anthropological hypotheses regarding
As to the interlocked soft corns of Western Brazil, it is not surprising to me that you are finding their knob constitution
to be similar to "Andean" races. You will recall that both Cororico and Enano of Bolivia, although concentrated at
100 to 150 meters elevation, possessed typical "Andean" knobs, and I have always assumed your interlocked soft corns
were very close to Cororico or something like it. While Enano may appear to be quite a different thing, I expect it has played
a role in the evolution of Cororico.
I do not know much about "Lenha" but except for kernel texture, I have felt it to be not unlike some varieties which,
until a few years ago, were rather wide spread along the Southern edge of the U.S. Corn Belt. Have you any historical records
of introductions into Southern Brazil from this part of North America?
It is my hope that you will be able to make a careful collection in the Guianas. Most of the stuff now available from there
comes from the Coast, and is not very exciting, but it would be most interesting, I think, to know what is in the interior.
I am not unaware of the difficulty of getting there, even in these modern times.
Goodman must have been with you for some weeks now. I am most anxious to know how he is coming on.
Thanks again for your letter which was greatly appreciated.