Collection ID: LMC 2291
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Collection context


Altenburg, Edgar, 1888-1967
The Altenburg mss., 1946-1960, consists of the papers of geneticist Edgar Altenburg, 1888-1967.
4 Box (4 standard)
English .
Preferred citation:

[Item], Altenburg mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


Biographical / Historical:

Edgar Altenburg was born on January 11, 1888, in Jersey City, New Jersey. He graduated from Morris High School in New York in 1906. He earned is A.B. in 1911, his A.M. in 1912, and his Ph.D. in 1916 from Columbia University. After earning his Ph.D. he served as an instructor at Rice Institute (1916-1920), then was promoted to assistant professor (1920-1947), associate professor (1947-1958), and professor (1958-1967). From 1919-1921, Altenburg worked with geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller (1890-1967) to demonstrate that mutation rates could be increased by heat. They co-authored a paper, published in 1920, showing that the variabiity of the character "truncate wing," which had been thought to be a "non-Mendelian" trait, was due to the presence of modifer genes. Altenburg went on to publish a study in 1930 on the frequency of translocations produced by X-rays in Drosophila. He discovered ultraviolent mutagenesis and worked with his students to discover alpha particle and neutron mutagenesis in 1934. In 1946, Altenburg prposed a theory that most cancers arise de novo as mutations in particles in the cytoplasm which have their own genetic constitution apart from that of the cell itself. He later collaborated with one of Muller's co-workers and the two discovered in 1952 that photoreactivating light could reverse ultraviolet mutagenensis. Altenburg died on August 27, 1967. For more biographical information see Genetics, LX (1968), S20-21.

Scope and Content:

The Altenburg mss., 1946-1960, consists of the papers of geneticist Edgar Altenburg, 1888-1967. Included are correspondence with scientists, scientific papers, drawings, and printed matter.

Correspondence with Royal Alexander Brink and Barbara McClintock concerns maize genetics, 1952-1960; with Graham Phillips DuShane relates to the publication of criticism in "Science" on Brink's virus interrelation of his RR case in maize, 1959; with August Ernest Kehr is on the immunity to virus X in Irish potatoes, 1959; and with Edward Harold Coe discusses the B locus in maize, 1959. A letter from Hermann Joseph Muller refers to Brink's research, 1959.

Among the articles in the collection are Brink's "Paramutation and chromosome organization," "Paramutation and chromosome organization," "Resistance of potato to infection by mechanically introduced virus X," McClintock's "Mutable genes," Altenburg's "Thomas Hunt Morgan, Democrat," and Altenburg's criticism entitled "Virus versus gene change in Brink's RR case in maize." There is also a mimeographed copy of Altenburg's "The Science of Evolution."

Acquisition information:
Gift: 1968

This collection is arranged following original order.

Physical location:
Lilly - Stacks



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[Item], Altenburg mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana University Bloomington
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