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John Innes Centre

C C Darlington working at a microscope in the early 1900s.

Related links

  • JI100 web pages
  • Bateson Letters Database
  • The Bateson and Darlington Archives Project

    Simon Coleman is an archivist working on the Wellcome funded genetics archives project at JIC. He is based in the Centre’s library and has a 15 month project which began in spring 2012. The two archives to be catalogued are those of William Bateson (1861-1926) and Cyril Darlington (1903-1981), both Directors of the Institution. Both men made major discoveries and were hugely influential in shaping the progress of genetics during the first half of the 20th century. Markedly different in character, both were brilliant and often controversial scientists, as well as broad thinkers whose views extended well beyond the boundaries of their professional world.

    Simon will be maintaining a Blog which will highlight some of the content of the two archives and focus on their importance in documenting the history of genetics science. Visit the blog at


Historical Collections at the John Innes Centre

History of JIC

JI100Through the JI100 web pages you are able to explore our 100+ year history.


The John Innes Centre archives are an important resource for scholars in the history of genetics. They include:

  • The John Innes collection of Batesoniana, which is the largest in the world, comprises some 10,000 items. This collection is now searchable via the web
  • The John Innes collection of Bateson photographs is also now available to view online
  • Other early John Innes Archives include:
    • material concerning the Innes Family; a series of schemes relating to the foundation of the John Innes;
    • 630 scientific notebooks, dating from Bateson's years in Cambridge until the 1960's;
    • selections from the work of the Institute's second director, Sir Daniel Hall, mostly relating to his research on tulips,
    • the fruit-breeding work of M.B.Crane, who developed many successful new varieties.
  • The work of Gavin Brown, mostly on tree fruits, but also on ornamental plants
  • The papers of the third director, the cytologist C.D.Darlington, including manuscripts of several of his books.
  • Professor Roy Markham's Virus Research Unit Archives and a large collection of his own correspondence and other papers.
  • Professor Harold Woolhouse papers covering the years 1974-1989.
  • The archives of the Plant Breeding Institute.
  • The papers of Dr.G.D.H.Bell including correspondence, lecture notes, addresses, material on the history of PBI and photographs and slides.
  • A large collection of photograph albums depicting people, laboratories, buildings, experimental plots and events at the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge.
  • The archives of the Nitrogen Fixation Labaratory.
  • The archives of the Genetical Society. These provide a fascinating insight into the progress of genetics in Britain.
  • The John Innes Reprint Collection consists of over 40,000 reprints on biological subjects.
  • A large reprint collection comprehending all aspects of genetics and cytology from 1900 to the 1980's. This collection covers plants, animals and micro-organisms and includes some material from the collections of R.A.Fisher and Julian Huxley.
  • The History of Genetics Library comprising some 4,000 books on genetics, evolution, anthropology, geology, palæontology, science and religion, population, and many other subjects. All these works appear in the main library catalogue and almost all are available for loan.
  • The private library of William Bateson, the Institute's first director. This comprises 300 books, many annotated, on science, history, travel and topography, language, literature, sociology and religion.
  • The working library of C.D.Darlington, including many heavily-annotated books and papers.

The John Innes collection of Batesoniana

William Bateson was the Director of the John Innes Horticultural Institute from 1910-1926. He was a pioneer of the new science of genetics and coined the term Genetics in a letter to Prof. Adam Sedgwick in 1905. Bateson was very much involved in the experimental work and controversy that had followed the rediscovery in 1900 of Mendel’s papers on plant hybridization.

The John Innes collection of Batesonia comprises some 10,000 items of correspondence, notebooks, diaries, articles and specimens.

Researchers wishing to explore the collection can search the database for relevant material, and then contact the Librarian, Kate West (, to either arrange a visit or request further information.

Rare Books

The John Innes Foundation Collection of Rare Botanical Books at the John Innes Centre in Norwich ranks highly among collections of a similar nature. Most of the items were acquired by William Bateson (1861-1926), pioneer geneticist and first Director of the John Innes Institute. Today the Collection is housed in a purpose built room within the John Innes Centre Library which was specially designed to provide the optimum conditions for the proper care, preservation and protection of these fascinating books. The Rare Book Collection is regarded as particularly outstanding, not only because it embraces more than four centuries of botanical literature, but also because it houses many works that are landmarks in the history of plant science.



Mike Ambrose  +44(0)1603 450630