Center for Humanities

The Center for Humanities & History of Modern Biology was created in 2018 to establish a permanent home for the humanities at CSHL, one of the world’s premier private, nonprofit scientific research institutions. The Center is located in CSHL’s historic Carnegie Building alongside the library and archives, which preserve an internationally significant collection of primary material on the life sciences and medical research since 1890. In addition to institutional records from CSHL and a variety of precursor institutions and philanthropic organizations, the archives hold personal collections of nearly three dozen notable scientists from around the world.

The Center promotes humanistic understandings of modern biology and medicine by organizing public events, hosting virtual and physical exhibitions, and awarding a range of visiting fellowships.

Since its inception the Center has also taken over CSHL’s oral-history initiative and the lab’s series of annual History of Science meetings, both of which are aimed at creating and preserving historical records to complement the material in our archives. Our history meetings are distinctive in bringing participants who shaped a significant field of scientific research together with current practitioners, educators, and historians of that field.

Personnel:

Ludmila (Mila) Pollock, Executive Director

Alistair Sponsel, Ph.D., Historian of the Life Sciences

 

Institutional Archives

The Institutional Archives, which documents the 125-year history of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory through collecting the materials of its researchers as well as records relating to the Lab’s operations. These include administrative records, contracts, trustees’ meeting minutes, plans and blueprints, and reprints. These materials not only document the scientific legacies of the Laboratory and its faculty, but also the professional and social interactions of CSHL researchers.

CSHL Archives Mission

Officially established in 1972, the CSHL Archives houses unique materials relating to breakthrough discoveries and world-recognized research from 1890, as well as, participates in broad scholarly and educational programs.

The mission of the CSHL Archives is to identify, collect, preserve, and provide access to original materials documenting the history of molecular biology and genetics worldwide and the 125- year history of CSHL and its role in modern biology. This documentary evidence is made available worldwide. In doing so, the CSHL Archives strives to advance its role as a premier repository of documents reflecting the development of molecular biology and genetics.

The CSHL Archives:

  • Provides access to our materials to scholars, students, educators, and the public
  • Promotes leading-edge uses of these materials by scholars, authors, filmmakers, visual artists, and other creatives
  • Develops scholarly, educational, and public programs for the worldwide community

The CSHL Archives fulfills its mission by:

  • Identifying, acquiring, and preserving original materials (rare books, manuscripts, lab notebooks, correspondence, photographs, scientific reprints, born digital, etc.) on the history of molecular biology, genetics, life sciences, and biotechnology
  • Digitizing our collections to reach as broad an audience as possible
  • Offering scholarships to support research using primary resources on different topics in molecular biology, genetics, life sciences, and biotechnology
  • Offering a fellowship program for professionals who are interested in learning and building professional skills in scientific archives
  • Organizing annual history of science meetings and special events that bring together scientists, scholars, journalists, and the public to discuss the intersection of science and history
  • Creating and curating exhibitions

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Availability of Material

For specific information on the availability of materials or to arrange an appointment to use the Archives, please contact (516)367-8414 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please consult our Permissions & Copyright Policies for any materials you wish to use.

This collection is currently being processed under a 2011-2012 DHP award. NYS Education Department Logo Funding provided by the New York State Documentary Heritage Progam.