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Sol Spiegelman Papers 1929-1983
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All Series Level Scope and Content Notes

Biographical material, correspondence, laboratory notebooks, published and unpublished writings, academic course material, subject files, memoranda, and photographic media (113.5 linear feet; 1929-1983) document Sol Spiegelman's professional career as a microbiologist.

Spiegelman collected publicity material generated by his experiments. Much of this information can be found in Series 1: Personal and Biographical, which contains a wealth of news articles about his achievements. It also provides biographical notes, manuscripts and extensive obituaries collected shortly after his death. His many awards and honors are documented in Series 5: Professional Activities in the Awards and Honors sub-series. A significant component of the collection is Spiegelman's professional correspondence files, dating from the 1940s until his death in 1983 (Series 2). Much of this correspondence illustrates Spiegelman's active involvement in the scientific community, as well as the close personal relationships he developed with many of his colleagues.

Laboratory Notes and Notebooks comprise nearly fifty percent of the collection, which are located in Series 3. The series contains multi-volume laboratory notebooks from 1937 to 1976 and are authored by Spiegelman and his laboratory colleagues. The notebooks consist of the protocols, raw data, and conclusions drawn from experiments in enzyme synthesis, DNA-RNA hybridization, viral RNA, and cancerous tumors. The most extensive group of notebooks belonged to Spiegelman and covers a variety of experiments from the first two decades of his career. The second largest group of notebooks was kept by Dr. Ichiro Haruna as he worked with Spiegelman from 1962 to 1966 in the discovery of the RNA-replicating enzyme in viruses.

Copies of Spiegelman's reprints encompassing his entire career can be found in Series 4: Writings. The series contains articles about some of his most renowned experiments including RNA-DNA hybridization and explorations in the causes of human breast cancer. The majority of these articles appear in eight bound volumes entitled "Spiegelman's Collected Reprints."

Documents concerning Spiegelman's role as an educator can be found in Series 6: Academic Career. The series includes teaching materials in several subjects dating primarily from his time at the University of Illinois. Records of the many curricula and educational issues committees with which Spiegelman was involved can be found in the Committees sub-series of Series 5: Professional Activities.


This series contains material collected by Spiegelman and his office staff to document his professional life. It includes notes, correspondence, manuscripts, and vitae documenting Spiegelman's career. There is very little information about his personal life. The folder "Biography - S. Spiegelman" contains several general biographical manuscripts; of particular interest is the article "Contributions of S. Spiegelman to Biology and Medicine." A second folder, "Notes for an Autobiography," includes several manuscripts with slightly more information on Spiegelman's personal life. The Publicity sub-series includes news clippings, journal articles, and other publications that focus on the media coverage of Spiegelman's work. Materials within each sub-series are arranged in chronological order.


This series contains Spiegelman's professional and personal correspondence with both individuals and organizations, covering various aspects of his career. Included are correspondence, articles, and vitae, as well as sensitive materials such as peer reviews, personnel records, and letters of recommendation, all of which are restricted. The series is arranged alphabetically by last name. Letters from Spiegelman's irregular correspondents including other scientists, fans, admirers, and laypersons are located in a number of "general" folders, arranged by the first letter of the correspondent's last name.


The Laboratory Notes and Notebooks series contains materials documenting experiments performed by Spiegelman, his students, and his professional colleagues from 1937 to 1976. There are three broad sub-series: Sugar and Enzyme Studies; Enzyme, DNA, and RNA Studies; DNA, RNA, and Cancer Studies. Researchers should be aware of the existence of overlaps in the types of studies documented in each sub-series. Included in the series are notes, graphs, negatives, shipping invoices, writings, research, and correspondence that were originally housed in three-ring binders. Notebooks identified as Spiegelman's date from 1937 to 1959 and include various assays related to enzyme synthesis and characteristics, as well as his early work with RNA-DNA. The bulk of the series consists of notes from the early-1960s to the mid-1970s covering Spiegelman's studies on the enzymes of RNA viruses, efforts to prove the possibility of the reverse transcription of RNA to DNA, and research into possible connections between human cancer and viruses. Of particular interest is the group of notebooks written by frequent collaborator Dr. Ichiro Haruna, dated from 1962 to 1966. These notebooks contain Spiegelman and Haruna's experiments in isolating and manipulating an RNA-replicating enzyme from the phage Qβ virus. Other colleagues, who worked as Spiegelman's investigators and whose experiments are documented include Roy H. Doi, Dr. Y. Ohtaka, Tamiko Kano-Sueoka, Lacy R. Overby, and Dr. Jeffrey Schlom.

The series is arranged chronologically by year and alphabetically by folder title within each year. Folder titles were amended where they did not accurately reflect the notebook's contents. Bulk dates were assigned to folder groups that documented ongoing experiments performed by the various investigators in an effort to collocate experiments from a single series together so their progression over the course of several years could be understood.


The Writings series contains published and unpublished material written by Spiegelman and his colleagues. It contains reprints, drafts, reports, correspondence, notes, laboratory notes, speeches, photographs, and slides. The series is organized chronologically by date and alphabetically by folder title. It includes published works concerning Spiegelman's experiments with RNA-DNA hybridization and the biological mechanics of cancerous cells, in particular leukemia and breast cancer. Materials of significance are Spiegelman's collected bound reprints, which are grouped by date and cover his published career. The Illustrations sub-series contains images used for publication purposes. Unfortunately, there is little or no textual evidence to indicate how and when the images were used; however, some folder titles do provide a modicum of information and may refer to specific articles.


The Professional Activities series documents Spiegelman's involvement with professional events and committees. The series is divided into three sub-series: Events, Committees, and Awards and Honors. The Events sub-series includes correspondence, pamphlets, publications, articles, and lecture notes related to specific conferences, meetings, and symposia. The Committees sub-series contains correspondence, publications, articles, ballots, memoranda, and notes documenting Spiegelman's various scientific organizational involvement. The Awards and Honors sub-series is similar in content to the other two sub-series; however, the records reflect events and organizations which honored Spiegelman and were kept separate by his office staff for this reason. The series is arranged chronologically.


The Academic Career series contains material created or used as part of Spiegelman's work as an educator. The series is divided into two sub-series: Course Materials and Theses. The Course Materials sub-series is further divided into five sub-sub-series: Bacteriology, Microbial Genetics, Microbiology, Laboratory, and Lectures and Notes. The first three sub-sub-series document specific courses Spiegelman taught and include course outlines, lectures, assignments, examinations, and notes. The Laboratory sub-sub-series includes handouts describing specific laboratory procedures as well as administrative materials such as lists of students and trainees and an inventory of his laboratory data books. The Lectures and Notes sub-sub-series includes lectures, notes, and planning materials which do not fall under the headings of bacteriology, microbial genetics, or microbiology. The materials in each sub-sub-series are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

The Student Theses sub-series includes student theses developed under Spiegelman as well as correspondence and notes related to them. Theses are arranged chronologically and then alphabetically by last name.


The Subject Files series contains material Spiegelman collected on a wide variety of professional topics. The series includes articles, manuals, publications, manuscripts, notes on various issues, and curriculum vitae. The Subject Files are arranged alphabetically by folder title.