Hawkes papers find a home away from home

by Luigi Guarino on March 23, 2010

A blog post from Kew alerts us to the fact that the collecting notebooks and photographs of Prof. Jack Hawkes, recently deceased pioneer of the plant genetic resources conservation movement, were accessioned into its Archive last year. They must make for fascinating reading. I hope they will be scanned and put online in due course. One does wonder, though, why these precious papers did not find a home at the University of Birmingham, where Prof. Hawkes taught for so many years, and indeed established a seminal MSc course. Anyway, the important thing is that they will be properly taken care of and made available to researchers. Like all the wild potato herbarium specimens and germplasm Prof. Hawkes collected over a long and illustrious career.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Adi Damania March 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

At least they found a good home. Almost same thing happened to the late Professor Jack R. Harlan’s papers. The University of Illinois actually closed his Genetic Resources & Crop Evolution Laboratory after he retired. His papers are scattered between his students, sons, and admirers here at University of California, Davis. His papers have survived a boat sinking in New Orleans harbor and the Katrina floods. We are seeking funds to do a biography.

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maha Q. Syouf March 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm

i would like to assure the importance of funding this biography
Dr. maha Syouf/Moscow

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Mike Jackson January 9, 2012 at 11:23 am

When Jack retired in 1982 he still had a room and small laboratory for his herbarium at the University of Birmingham – in the Dept. of Earth Sciences, and then Continuing Studies. But he always planned to leave his herbarium – which was very extensive – to Kew. And it’s appropriate, I believe, that his notebooks and other materials are also safely kept at Kew where they will be secure, and studied. I’m afraid the same cannot be said for university departments, that chnage significantly over time. The Dept. of Botany / Plant Biology disappeared in about 1988 and became part of the School of Biological Sciences. And for a decade or more, there exists the School of Biosciuences (an amalgamation of Biological Sciences and Biochemistry). The study of plants per se, and even genetics (once a major feature of biological teaching and research and teaching at Birmingham) has all but disappeared.

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