Famous papers are coming to UCSD

Copies of the scientific papers of DNA molecule co-discoverer Francis Crick will be housed in the Geisel Library special collections section. The move comes as part of a deal stipulating that the original papers will go to the Wellcome Library in London for $2.5 million, the most ever paid to a scientist for his papers.

Lyon Liew

The London-based Wellcome Trust will contribute half of the funds, with the other half coming from the United Kingdom’s Heritage Lottery Fund.

In 1953, Francis Crick and fellow scientist James Watson proposed the double-helical structure for DNA and the method by which DNA replicates. The duo won the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine in 1962 “”for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.””

Crick has been a faculty member of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla for the past quarter century.

“”UCSD is delighted to be able to work with the Wellcome Library and the Wellcome Trust on this project,”” said Lynda Claassen, director of the Mandeville Special Collections Library at UCSD. “”This is a very unusual situation for professional papers and personal archives, we’re delighted we can be part of it.””

The copies to be stored at Geisel Library will include Crick’s DNA-related research papers as well as his more recent research done at the Salk Institute in the fields of neuroscience and the brain.

“”I think it’s wonderful that the Wellcome Trust charity is graciously making these papers available in the two places in the world that have been my professional homes — London and La Jolla,”” Crick stated in a press release. “”I couldn’t think of two better places for my papers to go.””

Crick’s papers probably will be available for research use by scholars, scientists and medical historians within two years, according to Claassen.

“”While Dr. Crick is alive, only he will have access to the papers at UCSD,”” she said. “”After Wellcome Library finishes organizing the papers, we will organize ours and then they will be open for research by anyone.””

Only qualified researchers who furnish a photographic form of identification and who complete a Reader Registration form may use the special collections. Materials do not circulate and are used under library supervision.

Although the papers that are to be stored at UCSD will be only high-quality photocopies and not the originals of Crick’s work, they will be the only copies made.

“”UCSD will have the only copies in the world,”” Claassen said.

The library will begin photocopying Crick’s papers this month, before they are shipped to the Wellcome Library.

The two organizations contributing to the purchase are based in the United Kingdom.

The Heritage Lottery Fund receives money from the United Kingdom’s National Lottery. It bestows grants to “”support a wide range of projects involving the local, regional and national heritage of the United Kingdom,”” acting as a “”fund of last resort,”” according to HLF’s Web site.

Crick’s archive is one of a number of scientific heritage projects that the HLF has helped recently. The archive joins Helen Sharman’s Space Suit and Sir Isaac Newton’s papers as milestones of British science that have been preserved with the help of the HLF. The first requests for lottery money were accepted in January of 1995.

The Wellcome Trust is an independent research-funding charity, established under the will of Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936. Its stated mission is to promote and foster research with the aim of improving human and animal health. It is especially concerned with preserving elements of Britain’s scientific heritage.

“”Francis Crick’s pioneering work on the structure of DNA was carried out in Britain, and we are bringing it back home,”” said David Pearson, head of the Wellcome Library, in a press release. “”In financial terms, this is the biggest single acquisition the Trust has ever made, but its value is priceless.””

While the original papers will be sent to Wellcome Library, the photocopies will be stored safely in Geisel Library’s climate-controlled environment.

“”We have the papers of a number of Salk’s scientists,”” said Claassen. “”The Salk doesn’t have its own archives; we serve as a repository for them.””

Among the 18 million manuscripts and 250,000 rare books stored in Geisel are the archives of Salk scientists Jonas Salk, Leslie Orgel and Leo Szilard.

Many nonscientific rare documents are also housed in the Mandeville Special Collections Library located within Geisel Library, including the Dr. Seuss Collection and the UCSD Archives.

The exhibit on Geisel Library’s namesake — Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss — contains original sketches, proofs, notebooks, manuscript drafts, books, audio, videotapes, photographs and memorabilia. The approximately 8,500 items in the collection document the full range of Dr. Seuss’s creative achievements, beginning in 1919 with his high school activities and ending with his death in 1991.

The special collections library’s UCSD Archives documents UCSD’s growth, as well as its intellectual and administrative history. Established shortly after the university was created in the 1960s, it includes records of the chancellors, student newspapers, campus financial reports, campus master plans, yearbooks and other memorabilia. Records from various campus administrators document the creation of the colleges and correspondence to the chancellors reflects UCSD’s interactions with the local community.

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