Morgan, Thomas Hunt, 1866-1945

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Thomas Hunt Morgan was a geneticist and embryologist. He was Professor of Experimental Biology at Columbia University (1904-1928) and Professor of Zoology at California Institute of Technology (1928-1945).

From the description of Papers, ca. 1919-1947. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 86165435

Thomas Hunt Morgan received his Ph. D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 1890 where he studied morphology with W.K. Brooks, and physiology with H. Newell Martin. He taught biology at Bryn Mawr College, Columbia University, and the California Institute of Technology.

His research speciality was experimental embryology.

From the description of Reprints, 1889-1945. (Johns Hopkins University). WorldCat record id: 163122086

Thomas Hunt Morgan was a geneticist and embryologist. He was Professor of Experimental Biology at Columbia University (1904-1928) and Professor of Zoology at California Institute of Technology (1928-1945).

Morgan received a thorough grounding in animal morphology, especially of marine invertebrates, under W. K. Brooks at Johns Hopkins, and as a postdoctoral fellow for a year at the famed Naples Zoological Station. In his first academic position, at Bryn Mawr College, he collaborated in teaching the basic course in biology with Jacques Loeb, who was later to attain renown as an experimental physiologist. A leave of absence from Bryn Mawr enabled Morgan to spend another year (1894-1895) at the Naples laboratory, working especially with Hans Driesch, who became a lifelong friend. It was then that Morgan declared his independence of the descriptive method of studying animals, so characteristic of W. K. Brooks, and determined to be an experimentalist -- specifically, an experimental embryologist.

Morgan began going to the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory almost from its founding in 1888, while he was still a graduate student. He became a member of its Board of Trustees in 1897, and he remained on the Board as an active member until 1937. Woods Hole was an ideal place for the sort of investigations in embryology Morgan wished to pursue, for it was there that one could study marine animals while they were still alive.

There were other attractions, too. One of Morgan's children is said to have believed that E. B. Wilson dragged a reluctant Morgan from his research one day to meet "his brightest student" at Bryn Mawr College, Lilian Vaughan Sampson. In any case, they met, and in 1891, when Morgan arrived as a new faculty member at the college, Lilian enrolled as a graduate student and Morgan became her adviser. She received an M.A. degree in 1894. Romance came slowly. They did not become engaged until 1903, and were married in 1904, just before Morgan accepted his friend E. B. Wilson's invitation to fill a professorship at Columbia University. Morgan's interests were centered at this time upon problems of heredity and sex determination. He was, however, notoriously skeptical of the validity of Mendelism and the chromosomal theory of heredity advocated by Boveri and by Wilson and his graduate student W. S. Sutton.

While he was at Naples, Morgan had tried to repeat Boveri's experiment on the fertilization of enucleated sea urchin eggs, which Boveri said led to wholly paternal inheritance; and Morgan could not confirm the result. As a consequence, Morgan discounted Boveri's work all too heavily. Yet why he should have disregarded the superb analysis made by Sutton, which tied together the events of meiosis -- the reduction of the chromosome number in the formation of male and female gametes -- with the Mendelian segregation of alternative characters and the random fertilization of egg cells by male germ cells (sperms or pollen), is truly hard to conjecture. In any case, Morgan wrote a number of skeptical papers about Mendelism that he was later to regret -- one, in fact, that he actually deleted in later years from his bibliography. In 1908 he selected the tiny fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster in order to test where those variations important in evolution come from -- from DeVriesian mutations, as he then thought. In 1910, however, he found a recessive sex-linked mutation, white eye color. [In the Davenport Papers there is a highly interesting letter from Morgan to Davenport, dated June 11, 1910, a letter in which Morgan reports his discovery and analysis of its "sex limited inheritance," while saying not a word of the dispelling of his doubts of Mendelian inheritance or his abandonment of the dictum, "Once crossed, always mixed," which he had applied to the results obtained by Cuenot in his breeding of yellow-coated mice. The letter was sent to Davenport almost a month before Morgan submitted the paper to Science for publication. See B. Glass, "An Exciting Find: Thomas Hunt Morgan Letters," Mendel Newsletter 26: 6-7, August 1986.]

So the great Drosophila era of genetics, with its verification of the Chromosome Theory of Heredity, its mapping of genes according to linkage and recombination values, had begun. Already, too, in the "fly room" in Schermerhorn some extraordinary students, both graduate and undergraduate, were at work -- among them Bridges, Sturtevant, and Muller, who collaborated with Morgan in writing the book of the time, The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity . A number of foreign holders of fellowships also arrived to join the heady atmosphere of novel theories and methods of genetical research. The first of these was probably Otto Lous Mohr, from Norway, who with his wife Tove became especially warm, lifelong friends of the Morgan family. In the late 1920s came Curt Stern and Theodosius Dobzhansky. In 1927 Morgan received an invitation to come to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, to establish and head a Biology Division. He accepted, and took Bridges and Sturtevant with him. In planning and administrative work, however, Morgan lost his zest for Drosophila genetics, and when he resumed experimental work, it was to return to his first love, embryology, to seek once again to unite it with genetics and thereby provide a more solid basis for evolutionary theory.

From the guide to the Thomas Hunt Morgan papers, ca. 1919-1947, Circa 1919-1947, (American Philosophical Society)

The developmental biologist and ardent vitalist Hans Driesch was born on October 28, 1867, in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. After studying zoology at Freiburg and Munich, he received his doctorate at Jena in 1889 for work under Ernst Haeckel on coelenterates. Through a series of major monographs including Die Biologie als Selbständige Grundwissenschaft (1893), Analytische Theorie der Organischen Entwicklung (1894), Die Seele als Elementare Naturfaktor (1903), and History and Theory of Vitalism (1905), Driesch developed a unqiue "biotheoretical" approach to organismal study, incorporating mathematical analysis of organismal structures in a strongly teleological vitalist framework that he called entelechy. He remained an antimaterialist throughout his career.

Between 1891 and 1900, Driesch worked at the International Zoological Station in Naples, Italy, where he met performed a renowned series of experiments on sea urchin embryos that conclusively demonstrated that the fate of a cell is not determined in the early developmental stages and, in 1896, he became the first to demonstrate embryonic induction. At Naples he also met Thomas Hunt Morgan, the young American embryologist and soon to be geneticist, with whom he maintained a long correspondence. After serving as the Gifford lecturer at Aberdeen in 1907-1908, Driesch was appointed professor of philosophy at Heidelberg (1911-20), and subsequently at Cologne and Leipzig. His pacifism and philosophical beliefs made him anathema to the Nazi regime, however, and he was forced to retire in 1933. He died in Leipzig on April 16, 1941.

From the guide to the Driesch-Morgan Collection, 1893-1933, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Schultz, Jack, 1904?-1971. Papers, 1920-1971. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Conklin, Edwin Grant, 1863-1952. Reminiscences, 1952 Nov. 19. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Raymond Pearl Papers, Circa 1895-1940 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Department of Genetics Collection, 1911-1947 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Morgan, Thomas Hunt, 1866-1945. Papers, ca. 1919-1947. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Noble, Gladwyn Kingsley, 1894-1940. Papers, 1919-1940. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn History of Indiana University, 1968-1981 Indiana University Center for the Study of History and Memoryhttp://www.indiana.edu/~cshm
referencedIn William Bateson Collection, 1902-1921, 1902-1921 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Thomas Hunt Morgan papers, ca. 1919-1947, Circa 1919-1947 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Jack Schultz papers, 1920-1971, 1920-1971 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Morgan, Thomas Hunt, 1866-1945. William Bateson / by T.H. Morgan. American Museum of Natural History
referencedIn Stern, Curt, 1902-1981. Papers, [ca. 1920]-1980. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Journal of Experimental Zoology records, 1891-1964 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Morgan, Thomas Hunt, 1866-1945. Autograph signature. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Morgan family. Hunt-Morgan family papers, 1784-1949. University of Kentucky Libraries
referencedIn Goodale, Hubert Dana, 1879-1968. Papers, ca. 1919-1956. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Dept. of Genetics. Records, 1911-1947. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Harrison, Ross G. (Ross Granville), 1870-1959. Ross Granville Harrison papers, 1820-1975 (inclusive), 1889-1959 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902. Correspondence, 1869-1879, of the Powell Survey. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Huxley, Julian, 1887-1975. Papers, 1899-1980. Rice University, Fondren Library
referencedIn William Bateson: Scientific Correspondence and Papers, 19th - 20th century Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Jennings, H. S. (Herbert Spencer), 1868-1947. Jennings collection of zoological articles, ca. 1894-1947. Indiana University
referencedIn Curt Stern Papers, 1907-1981 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Jacob Ellsworth Reighard Papers, 1887-1942, 1890-1920 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Hubert Dana Goodale papers, 1901-1965 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Rockefeller Foundation. Rockefeller Foundation Archives,1910-(1912-1989). Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills
referencedIn Harrison, Ross G. (Ross Granville), 1870-1959. Ross Granville Harrison papers, 1820-1975 (inclusive), 1889-1959 (bulk). Yale University Library
creatorOf Driesch-Morgan Collection, 1893-1933 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn John Spangler Nicholas papers, 1914-1963 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Nicholas, John Spangler, 1893-. John Spangler Nicholas papers, 1914-1963 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Cattell, James McKeen, 1860-1944. James McKeen Cattell papers, 1835-1948 (bulk 1896-1948). Library of Congress
referencedIn Davenport, Charles Benedict, 1866-1944. Papers, 1874-1944. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, 1910-1994 (bulk 1922-1991) Oregon State University The Valley Library, Special Collections
referencedIn L. C. Dunn Papers, ca. 1920-1974 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Journal of Experimental Zoology records 1891-1964 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Morgan, Charles F. J. Morgan. Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee County Federated Library System
creatorOf Morgan, Thomas Hunt, 1866-1945. Reprints, 1889-1945. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library
referencedIn Julian Sorell Huxley papers MS 50., 1899-1980 Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX
referencedIn James McKeen Cattell Papers, 1835-1948, (bulk 1896-1948) Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
referencedIn Dunn, L. C. (Leslie Clarence), 1893-1974. Papers, [ca. 1920]-1974. American Philosophical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Bateson, William, 1861-1926. person
associatedWith Bridges, Calvin B., 1889-1938. person
correspondedWith Cattell, James McKeen, 1860-1944. person
associatedWith Caullery, Maurice, 1868-1958 person
associatedWith Chaudary, M. A. person
associatedWith Conklin, Edwin Grant, 1863-1952. person
associatedWith Davenport, Charles Benedict, 1866-1944. person
associatedWith Dibner, Bern, person
associatedWith Driesch, Hans, 1867-1941 person
associatedWith Dunn, L. C. (Leslie Clarence), 1893-1974. person
associatedWith Gates, R. Ruggles (Reginald Ruggles), 1882-1962. person
associatedWith Goodale, Hubert Dana, 1879-1968. person
associatedWith Harrison, Ross G. (Ross Granville), 1870-1959. person
correspondedWith Huxley, Julian, 1887-1975. person
correspondedWith Huxley, Julian Sorell person
associatedWith Indiana University Center for the Study of History and Memory corporateBody
associatedWith Jennings, H. S. (Herbert Spencer), 1868-1947. person
associatedWith Mohr, Otto person
associatedWith Mohr, Otto Lous, 1886- person
associatedWith Morgan, Ellen K. H. person
associatedWith Morgan, Ellen K. H. person
associatedWith Morgan family. family
associatedWith Morgan, Lilian V. person
associatedWith Morgan, Lilian V. person
associatedWith Morgan, Lilian Vaughan person
associatedWith Nicholas, John Spangler, 1893- person
associatedWith Noble, Gladwyn Kingsley, 1894-1940. person
associatedWith Palmer, Richard person
associatedWith Pauling, Ava Helen person
associatedWith Pauling, Linus Carl, 1901- person
associatedWith Pearl, Raymond, 1879-1940 person
associatedWith Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902. person
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Reighard, Jacob Ellsworth, 1861-1942 person
associatedWith Rockefeller Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Schultz, Jack, 1904?-1971. person
associatedWith Stern, Curt, 1902-1981. person
associatedWith Thompson, W. P. person
associatedWith Unidentified person
associatedWith United States. corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, Berkeley. Dept. of Genetics. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Norway
Norway
United States
Subject
Genetics
Nobel prizes
Zoology
Embryology--Germany
Embryology, Experimental
Occupation
Biologists--United States
Function

Person

Birth 1866-09-25

Death 1945-12-04

Americans

English,

Swedish

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6vh5q27

Ark ID: w6vh5q27

SNAC ID: 18122677