Letter from Barbara McClintock to Charles R. Burnham
Like much of McClintock and Burnham's correspondence, this letter addressed their continued concern over their prospects
for employment and funding. McClintock provided some thoughts on various institutions' facilities.
Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (162,844 Bytes)
1945-04-13 (April 13, 1945)
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):
Fellowships and Scholarships
Controlling Elements: Cold Spring Harbor, 1942-1967
Box Number: 3
Folder Number: 5
April 13, 1945.
Thank you for your letter and the news of the vps you are working with. Thanks also, for offering to send some of it on to
me for testing agains the chromosome 5 deficiency. Unfortunately, I am not able to take on any more work at all. It is a
case now of discarding some of my plans for too much has turned up for me to be able to handle all of it myself. I have no
assistant and it is something of a job to tend to all the details. It is still lots of fun but there is also considerable
pressure. The past few years have been too pressing and must be cut to some extent. I may be getting old or just getting
It was bad news that you did not get the Guggenheim fellowship. I suspect that you were a little too honest in your request
in that you stated you needed to get away. I thought of this at the time that I read over your application and wondered if
it would not work against you. Handling people is a queer matter. A twist or a phrase can do so much even though the situation
remains the same. I don't know of any source of funds for traveling expenses unless a University will offer a grant for
a special purpose. The trip to California for me was paid for by Stanford but I went there for a special job. You might
write Andy and ask if he has some way of getting a similar grant from Cal. Tech. Without meaning to detract from that place,
I honestly believe that they could give you very little of what you are seeking. Andy just has not advanced in his thinking
at all and is still back in the old days in much of his work. Except at Columbia and Texas, genetics is not being spectacular
in any place. It does not seem to be doing much. The Stanford group is excellent, in fact, exceptional but their work is
of a special nature. This place is not doing too much and has suffered a drought of ideas and a reduced personnel. The University
of California was pathetic.
You asked if recessives that might be due to deficiencies could be detected cytologically. In most cases, I doubt if we would
see the deficiency. Loss of a small segment, unless terminal, would be a devil of a job to see. A large loss is easily detected
but it is usually accompanied by other signs of deficiency. I have been working on a number of new mutants coming from the
broken chromosome mechanism and have isolated a number. Have 12 yg mutants and all tested so far have been allelic to yg-2.
I also have some variegates which look like inactivations of loci simulating deficiencies. This material has just come along
and will get tested this summer. I am not planning on seeing deficiencies in cases where I suspect a deficiency is present.
It may be just too hard.
Stadler is coming to N.Y. tomorrow. I have not seen him since I left Missouri in 1941. Both of us will probably have changed
plenty in the mean time. Marcus invited me in to dinner at his house (Stadler is staying there) for tomorrow night.
Let me know if there is anything that I could do to help you out on the leave of absence situation. I have thought some of
coming out to Minnesota for a visit to look over possibilities for fungi work there. I am convinced that there is an excellent
future in the cytology of fungi and have some definite plans for continuing this work. Will have to combat the lure of corn
completely or it won't get done. It is quite a struggle for problems in both are so intriguing. I don't know anything
about the department of pathology there but expect that they have facilities and lots of experience that would be valuable.