Note from the Publishers

This book is special in several rather diverse ways. First published by Alfred Sturtevant in 1965, it is one of the very few accounts of the early days of genetics by one who was there - the truths of a reporter rather than an historian. Sturtevant was one of an accomplished trio of Thomas Hunt Morgan's students, and although his name may resonate less with today's scientists than the names of his colleagues Bridges and Muller, his keen intelligence and broad scientific interests gave his book a scope of unusual breadth and interest. Yet it did not endure. A second printing appeared in 1967. Three years later Sturtevant was dead, and increasingly rare copies of his book were consigned to library shelves and second-hand shops as the concepts and techniques of molecular biology swept to dominance in the field of genetics.



This reprinted edition has its origins in two independent initiatives. Prompted by colleagues on the scientific staff, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press has in recent years republished two long-out-of-print books with both historical interest and continued contemporary relevance: The Biology of Drosophila by Milislav Demerec and The Structure and Reproduction of Corn by Theodore Kiesselbach. The response to these volumes was warm and encouraging, so when the idea of reviving Sturtevant's classic was suggested, we were enthusiastic, particularly when it was pointed out that Sturtevant's student and recent Nobel Prize winner, Edward Lewis, might be persuaded to write a new introduction to the book. Dr. Lewis kindly agreed to the task and did his part quickly and well. However, the currently rapid rate of growth and expansion within the Press meant that momentum on the project slowed, since the project lacked the urgency of books with the latest research results that are our typical output.

Independently, Robert Robbins, a biologist turned information scientist with a long-standing interest in both the history of science and the technology of publishing, had become interested in seeing the book return to print. Intrigued by the possibilities of networked information, he had established the Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web-based repository of historically interesting books and papers displayed in a way that leveraged the unique advantages of online delivery - full text-based searching, links to other electronic information sources, and personal annotation of the stored document. The ESP Project places a special emphasis on works related to the foundations of classical genetics.

Robbins' desire to add the Sturtevant book to this repository led him first to the Sturtevant family, then to Ed Lewis, then to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory itself, with the result that the Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press agreed to produce the book jointly, with an online and a print version to appear simultaneously.

The outcome is the website you are viewing and the book, now available from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. The book may be ordered online at the CSHL Press website:

The partnership of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press with the Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project is an experiment, one of many being conducted in this era of new publishing paradigms. It is our hope that for the reader, this print-online combination will deliver the best of both media, as a vehicle of an exceptional work of scholarship that deserves fresh recognition by a new generation of scientists.

We are pleased that this book appears in the year 2000 - a year with special significance for genetics and for the study of Drosophila melanogaster. This is the 100th anniversary of the founding of modern genetics with the rediscovery of Mendel's work, and it is the year in which the full DNA sequence of the Drosophila genome was obtained. The fruit fly is still at the center of genetic research, just as it was when Sturtevant first began his work in the "Fly Room" at Columbia University.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project

The full text of the book is available on-line, in PDF format.

CSHL Press

Edward. B. Lewis received the B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1939 and the Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1942, where he studied under A. H. Sturtevant.

Dr. Lewis received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discoveries concerning "the genetic control of early embryonic development".

Electronic Scholarly Publishing: Foundations of Classical Genetics

Copyright 2001 Robert J. Robbins
All Rights Reserved

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