Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany




A. F. Blakeslee was born in Geneseo, N. Y., November 9, 1874, the son of a Methodist minister. He obtained his bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University in 1896. He spent three years teaching sciences and mathematics at the preparatory school level and then began graduate studies at Harvard University. In 1900 he received his M.A. in Research in Mycology, studying under Professor Thaxter, and received his Ph.D. degree in 1904. Blakeslee's thesis, Sexual Reproduction in the Mucorineae earned immediate recognition for the important discovery of sexuality in the lower fungi and for the revolutionary effect this had on understanding sexual reproduction among the lower plants. As a result of his many scientific achievements, Dr. Blakeslee was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the University of San Marcos (Peru), University of Delhi (India), Yale, Smith, Wesleyan, the University of Paris, and the University of Arkansas.

From 1907 to 1915 Blakeslee was Professor of Botany at the Connecticut Agricultural College, Storrs, Connecticut. During this time he began studies on a variety of experimental materials including the domestic fowl, Rudbeekia, Adzuki beans and Datura. He published Trees in Winter in 1913. In 1915 he accepted a position as resident investigator in plant genetics at Carnegie Institution, Long Island, N. Y. and by 1936 he became Director.

Blakeslee's main research interest through the years was concentrated on the genetics and cytology of Datura stramonium and the nine other species of the genus. His investigations on extra-chromosomal types and the role played by each chromosome in inheritance are genetical classics. In collaboration with the late Dr. John Belling, he was the first to demonstrate the interchange of segments between non-homologous chromosomes and the consequent cytological differences by which these could be recognized. He and his research associates contributed over 300 scientific articles and many of these were delivered as papers or demonstrations at congresses and society meetings where he was a familiar figure.

In addition to research activities A. F. Blakeslee found time to act as Director of the National Science Fund; Visiting Lecturer in Genetics at Harvard (1948-49); and member of the National Research Council, the Trustees of "Biological Abstracts," and the Board of Managers of the New York Botanical Garden.

He was elected to membership in the many societies including the National Academy of Sciences, American Philosophical Society,American Association for the Advancement of Science , American Society of Naturalists, Botanical Society of America, Botanical Society of India; Genetics Society of Japan Institut de France, Academie des Sciences and the Linnean Society, London.


American Men of Science, 5th edition. The Science Press, New York, 1933.
"Albert Francis Blakeslee" by Harold H. Smith in Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 82(4) July-August 1955, pp. 305-308.


Scope & Content:
This collection consists of correspondence between Blakeslee and other botanists between 1923 and and 1936 as well as correspondence dealing with him, field notes, and his work with mucor cultures, specifically "Nutrient I-III.


Series Description:
Series I : Correspondence
This group contains correspondence between Blakeslee and others, such as Hagen, Lendner, and Westerdyk. It also includes correspondence of Dr. Lamb, Dr. Linder, and S. Satina.
Series II: Notebooks This series consists of Blakeslee's notebooks, mostly dealing with mucor cultures. Also present are notebooks that describe his work with "Nutrient, I-III".

Container List:

Series I: Correspondence
Folder 1: Correspondence between Blakeslee and Oscar Hagen, 1936, 4 items
Folder 2: Correspondence between Blakeslee and A Lendner, 1923, 3 items
Folder 3: Correspondence between Blakeslee and J. Westerdyk, 1927-1932, 12 items
Folder 4: Correspondence between Blakeslee and H. Zycha, 1936, 6 items
Folder 5: Letter to I.M. Lamb from C.W. Hesseltine, 1960, 1 item
Folder 6: Letter to Dr. David Linder from E. Castle, 1941, 1 item
Folder 7: Correspondence between S. Satina and A Lender, 1932-1936, 6 items

Series II: Notebooks
Folder 8: Botany II Notes on Cultures [c.1919]
Folder 9: Notes on Cultures "Record of Origin of material used in 1st cultures", 1919-1924
Folder 10: "Nutrient I", 1912
Folder 11: Notes on "Nutrient II" from horse decoction, n.d.
Folder 12: "Nutrients III", 1915-1919
Folder 13: Field & lab notes on mucor cultures, 1914-1919
Folder 14: Notebooks on mucor cultures, 1919
Folder 15: Notebook on cultures, 1919-1941
Folder 16: Bibliography on mucors, n.d.


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