Letter from Barbara McClintock to Charles R. Burnham
In this letter, McClintock briefly discussed her employment prospects and some recent work on ring chromosomes.
Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (234,215 Bytes)
1935-04-02 (April 2, 1935)
Burnham, Charles R.
Original Repository: University of Minnesota, University Archives. Charles Burnham Papers
Reproduced with permission of the University of Minnesota, University Archives. Charles Burnham Papers
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
From Ithaca to Berlin and Back Again, 1931-1935
Box Number: 3
Folder Number: 5
April 2, 1935.
I just got your letter and since I have wanted to write to you for some time, I shall sit right down and do it. I was glad
to get some news of you. With Marcus gone this place is very quiet. It is difficult to get used to not being with one of
the old gang. I am glad, though, that Marcus is at last placed in a good job although I would not like to be out in the dust-drought
area just now.
Harriet was here last week for her Spring vacation. She had to go back Sunday. Our vacation began this Monday and the place
is quite deserted. The people in the department are taking the vacation seriously. Harriet looked well and seemed to be
enjoying her place at Connecticut although she has to work hard to get used to the routine. Next year it will not be so bad.
She has the capacity to get along with people so well that she has fitted in very nicely. While she was here she got her
corn ready to plant for the summer. She decided not to go to Woods Hole but is coming here for the whole summer. Jane will
also be back too, so that I shall find enough people to play tennis with. I was glad to hear you are still out for the sports
but then knew you would gravitate toward it if it were around.
About my plans. My job at Johns Hopkins is definitely off. I got a letter from Metz stating that the girl who was going to
get married and leave got married but decided not to leave and he felt he had to keep her on. However, I think that I shall
come down to Washington and Baltimore anyway sometime toward the end of this month. I shall let you know more definitely
the dates so that we can get together. Stadler is going to be in Washington for a week and I thought it might be nice to
be there for a day while he is there too. It is difficult for me to get an extensive period of time off because of students.
I have two to take care of and their corn is coming along. Since they are both new at the game and since there is no one
around now to help out in case of an emergency I dont feel like getting off at any time. However, I shall try for five days
or so even if their corn is ready.
No sign of a job has turned up for me as yet. I cant say that it makes me feel very peppy to be still in the unemployed list
although I am getting a decent salary just now. The uncertainty gets under my skin a bit and hinders my spirits. My work
has suffered in consequence without the necessary stimulus. However, I have a few things coming along that are interesting,
and I hope to pick up a few more this summer.
The paper Marcus and I are writing for the Botanical Review is almost ready. I should have had it ready this past week as
I promised Marcus I would but I just could not get at it. I am not at all satisfied with it but after reading Sax's last
in the Botanical Review I know that we cant fall too low. The possibilities are good but we have not made the best of them.
I shall be glad to get together with you and talk over problems. I need the stimulus again to get real excited about the
work. The ring-chromosome stuff has come along well. I have found the somatic breaking up of the chromosomes. Now I want
to get the experiment to show that broken ends will certainly reunite. I hope to get some more X-ray translocations which
will give me the right set up. I have one now that is a beauty - a piece from the short arm of nine (including a section
of the large knob) has been translocated into the long arm. The piece is large enough so that the normal chromosome 9 synapsis
with the translocated section. When crossing over occurs in this region, a chromatid with two insertion regions and a large
chromatid with no insertion is formed. The crossing over is high enough in this region to give me plenty of figures with
breaks in anaphase I (possibly as high as 30%). If I can get another one with high breaks I am already to test the break
and reunion idea.
I have written to Anderson for some satellite translocations to try and test out the disjunction with several critical cases
but have not heard from him so that we will have to use what material we have. I have three translocations and you have several.
We should be able to get some ideas from these cases. Anderson may not want to send on the material. Perhaps he wants the
problem worked there himself. Beadle wrote me that Anderson is not doing much work on corn since the Drosophila stuff came
out. It rather took the wind away from his sails. It was too bad, too, since he has gotten so far with it. There must be
plenty of problems in his material that he is not working that are peculiar to maize and best worked there. At least Beadle
thinks this is the case. However, he may be discouraged again. What have you heard? We can talk about this when I see you.
I got a nice letter from Dobzhansky not so long ago. He sent me a picture of his daughter - very nice looking child. He
seems to be enjoying being a father.
I guess I have much of the news out of the way. We do not know who is going to take Marcus place in the department. No
one has heard. Needless to say, there have been plenty of applications sent in. I dont know when Emerson will be back,
possibly some time in May. I cant imagine that he will want to stay in Pasadena doing nothing for too long.
No more now, Charlie, and I'll be seeing you soon!