August 22, 1966

A History of Genetics

Author Affiliations



by A. H. Sturtevant, 165 pp, $5.50, New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1965.

JAMA. 1966;197(8):667. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110080107049

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There are few men today who have a claim equal to Sturtevant's for writing a history of genetics. The author has contributed extensively to the field since his undergraduate days at Columbia. His first paper, "The Linear Arrangement of Sex-Linked Factors in Drosophila, as Shown by Their Mode of Association" (J Exper Zool14:43-59, 1913), was formulated one night (to the neglect of his homework). This investigation produced the first chromosome map, in the order and approximate spacing that these genes still appear on standard maps.

This history has life in almost every page, for Sturtevant personally knew, and knows, most of the men active in 20th century genetics, This story begins with Hippocrates, reviews the events leading to Mendel's epochal paper, and develops the ideas and analyzes the men in genetics until about 1950. The author states that the history of science is primarily a history of ideas