The Historical Collections blog
Help us transcribe a piece of genetics history
It might look unimpressive from the outside, but we need your help to transcribe this small, student notebook from the John Innes Centre Archives, which could help change our understanding of the history of genetics in Britain.
The 2018 Innes Lecture; Citizen Science
This year’s ‘Innes Lecture’ took the theme of ‘citizen science’. Titled ‘Networks of Naturalists: Scientific communities in the 19th and 21st centuries’, Sally Shuttleworth and John Tweddle explored the history behind popular participation in natural knowledge and mapped today’s landscape of ‘citizen science’.
JBS Haldane at 125
The 5 November 2017 was the 125th Anniversary of the birth of one of our most famous alumni; John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (1892-1964), affectionately known by many as ‘JBS’.
Else Schulz; our mystery woman
Recently, a collection of sketchbooks came to light in the John Innes Centre archives. Normally, when a selection of books come to the collection, the archivists at least know who gave the books, where the books came from, when the books came and why they ended up in the collection. However, the archivists at the John Innes Centre Historical Collections team knew none of that. So, Madeline Ridout was given the task of deciphering this mystery, with nothing to work with except her name: Else Schulz.
From hot toddies to corpse mimics – how and why some plants generate heat
On 7-8 September,Dr Kirsten Bomblies, a Project Leader at the John Innes Centre, gave a fascinating talk in our Rare Books Room on how, and why, some plants have evolved to be able to generate heat, just like we do.
John Innes Celebrates 50 Years in Norwich 2017
2017 is a landmark year for the John Innes Centre- we have now been based in Norwich for 50 years. But when the Director of the ‘John Innes Institute’ announced the planned move to Norwich in 1962, the news was not initially welcomed by the staff – far from it...
Norwich’s botanical secrets and surprises
Few people with a family in Norfolk will be unaware of the beauty, strangeness and interest of the natural history collections of the Castle Museum in Norwich. But how many also know that there is a Rare Books Room at the John Innes Centre in Norwich? Or that it houses an important collection covering natural science, horticulture and botanical art across five centuries? Norwich has had more than its fair share of celebrated botanists…
Our ancient and diverse brassica vegetables
Dr Judith Irwin from the John Innes Centre’s Crop Genetics Department recently spoke to us about ‘Our Ancient and Diverse Brassica Vegetables’- a fascinating tour of more than 2,000 years of history of cultivation and study, brought up to date with Judith’s research on flowering time in broccoli.
Innes Lecture 2016: ‘Cunning Killer Orchids’
This year’s Innes lecturer was Dr Jim Endersby, Reader in the History of Science at the University of Sussex. Jim has already published two highly readable books A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology (2007) and Imperial Nature (2008) – a book about Joseph Hooker, Kew gardens, and what it meant to be a botanist in the 19th Century – but in this lecture on ‘Cunning Killer Orchids’ he gave us a sneak preview of his latest book Orchid: A cultural History which will be available later this autumn.
Introducing our new archivist Mark Pitchforth
My name is Mark Pitchforth and I have just taken up the post of John Innes Centre Project Archivist, funded by the Welcome Trust, based in the John Innes Centre Library and working with the wonderful historical archive collections held there.
Celebrating the history of peas and the International Year of the Pulse
2016 has been designated the ‘International Year of Pulses’ by the United Nations General Assembly.
Following the primrose path- why early botanists may have not dallied long enough to understand the secrets of heterostyly
One day while studying the illustrations of William Curtis’s Flora Londiniensis, an eighteenth century publication documenting the wild plants growing within a 10 mile radius of London, and one that brought Curtis ‘praise’ rather than ‘pudding’, Phil Gilmartin noticed that Curtis had drawn both of the two types of flower that occur in Primula.
Mendel and the culture of commemoration
The lionisation of Mendel in England began soon after the ‘rediscovery’ of his paper around 1900 by three European botanists: de Vries in Holland, Correns in Germany, and Tschermak in Austria.
Rare books images now accessible through the Mary Evans Picture Library
A set of 101 historic images from the John Innes Historical Collections is now digitised and available online in the Mary Evans Picture Library.
Harvest Moon and the Wheat Wizard
In September the John Innes Centre celebrated the life and work of plant breeder Rowland Biffen, one of the key figures documented in the Plant Breeding Institute archives which were transferred to the John Innes Centre archives after the Institute was privatised in 1987.
What did the John Innes Institute do during the First World War?
Britain’s scientists contributed to the war effort in a number of ways from weapons development to food and medical research. The John Innes story in 1914-18 is more about hearts and minds, the often overlooked impacts of the war on science and learning, and the sacrifice of individual careers and sometimes lives.
The meaning of flowers: a Valentine’s Day blog
When our John Innes Centre scientists ask about the meaning of flowers you can be pretty sure they are not thinking about flower symbolism and the language of love.
From ‘Dora and Desmond’ to Professor Roy Markham and Professor David Lipkin
In this guest blog archives enthusiast Anna Cullingford describes how she stumbled across a collection of John Innes related letters at a local auction in Norfolk.
Forgotten book reveals a 110-year-old secret about one of Mendel’s rediscoverers
In 1985 the John Innes Centre History of Genetics Library gained a new accession, a duplicate copy of the first edition of William Bateson’s Mendel’s Principles of Heredity: A Defence, published by Cambridge University Press in 1902. No fanfare accompanied the addition, yet this copy was special, and of much more value than the two existing copies in the Library it joined.