Library and Archives

The collections

The John Innes Historical Collections, housed in our on-site library, are an important resource for the history of plant science and genetics.

Rare books

Our rare books collection represents an important resource covering natural science, horticulture and botanical art across 500 years, dating from 1511. Subjects include;

  • Plant anatomy
  • Medical botany
  • Plant pathology
  • Ornamental plants
  • Horticulture
  • Gardening
  • Plant breeding
  • Agriculture

Included is a fine collection of floras with illustrations of the native plants of Britain and Europe, and of rare and exotic plants discovered around the world.

History of Genetics

Our History of Genetics Library contains 4,000 books on:

  • Charles Darwin
  • Evolution
  • Genetics
  • Anthropology
  • Biogeography
  • Geology
  • Palaeontology
  • Microscopy
  • Science and religion
  • Population
  • Popular science

The Library holds works on heredity by geneticists, biometricians, and cell biologists from around the world including;

  • Gregor Mendel
  • William Bateson
  • Hugo de Vries
  • Francis Galton
  • Karl Pearson
  • T H Morgan

The History of Genetics library is complimented by two annotated libraries in the John Innes Archive: the William Bateson and Cyril Darlington libraries.

Rare and unexpected

Our historic collections are diverse and include some fascinating and unusual items.

Unusual items in the collections include:

  • Letters by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace
  • Hand-drawn maps of bomb strikes near the Institute during WW2
  • Boxes of horticultural medals
  • An early calculating machine
  • Letters from James Archibald Innes to his sister during the Boer War

Our earliest records include the Court Rolls and Court Books of the Manor of Merton (1701-1928), and material relating to John Innes’ many business interests in Merton, the first home of the John Innes Horticultural Institution.

What treasures will you find on your visit?

Institute and alumni records

Our archive contains over a century of records on genetics, plant breeding, horticultural research, and plant and microbial science.

Notable collections include the William Bateson archive, comprising 10,000 items (c. 1869-1926) documenting the life and work of Britain’s founding father of genetics.

The archive also holds the records of the Genetics Society (from 1919), and of research organisations which have been incorporated within the John Innes Centre: the Virus Research Unit (1952-79), the Plant Breeding Institute (c. 1928-1993), and the Unit of Nitrogen Fixation (1966-1987).

The collections include letters, lecture notes, notebooks, specimens, book manuscripts, photographs, press cuttings, cartoons, and oral history.

A 15 month Wellcome Trust funded project to catalogue the William Bateson and Cyril Darlington archives took place 2012-13.