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This section of the guide is systematic inventory of all the contents of the CSHL’s archives and related CSHL historical collections.

Institutional Collections

photo of Symposium group 1937
The institutional collections consist of documents produced by the laboratory and its various precursor institutions. CSHL has a complex institutional history, and researchers interested in a particular chronological period may need to consult records from multiple “institutions,” as well as relevant personal collections of researchers and administrators from the period. Learn more »

Personal Collections

photo of Watson speaking at Hershey dedication 1979
These collections contain documents and other materials amassed by individuals, many (but not all) of whom worked at Cold Spring Harbor for a portion of their careers. Some personal collections contain notable records relating to the institutional history of CSHL; for example, the Norton Zinder Collection (NDZ) includes minutes of CSHL trustees’ meetings attended by Zinder. Learn more »

Oral History Collection

photo of Mila Pollock video interviewing a scientist
This consists of video recordings of 209 interviews, discussions, and conversations with a total of 223 participants in postwar molecular biology, genetics, biotechnology, and medicine. Since the discovery of the double helix in 1953, the molecular and genomic revolutions in science and medicine have fostered extraordinary changes in everyday life, including new types of vaccines and disease therapies, genetic modification of crops, and the inclusion of DNA evidence in the legal system. Our interview subjects include researchers and their family members, university administrators, civil servants, biotech entrepreneurs, and cultural practitioners such as science writers and visual artists who have commented on modern biomedicine. The recordings average about 90 minutes. 124 of the recordings have already been transcribed, but more transcriptions are being made every month. Learn more »

History of Science Meetings

photo of scientist at a podium giving a lecture
These meetings held at CSHL bring participants who shaped a significant field of scientific research together with current practitioners, educators, and historians of that field. CSHL staff recorded and photographed each meeting and preserved speakers’ slide presentations, which are being continually added to a dedicated web portal. Learn more »

Rare Books Collection

photo of the interior of the rare books room at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library
The Rare Book Collection encompasses 352 linear feet and over 2,500 books from the early day of the history of molecular biology and genetics. This collection is an invaluable resource for studies on genetics in the early part of this century, dealing with both animal and plant genetics. There are books on embryology and experimental biology, which are a valuable resource for individuals carrying out historical research on experimental biology. There are also books related to eugenics, in the United States in the early part of this century. As might be expected, the collection of eugenics texts is especially comprehensive, including books from Europe. In addition, there is a remarkably large collection of books on anthropology. Learn more »

CSHL Institutional Repository

photo of a castle turret
The institutional repository contains bibliographic records and many full digital copies of work published by members of the lab and its precursor institutions, dating back to the 1890s. Learn more »

CSHL’s online “Memory Board”

screen capture of the Archives Memory Board website landing page
The Memory Board is an experiment in interactive storytelling. The Memory Board provides a forum for scientists, administrators, support staff, trustees, students and visitors to share their memories about the evolving history of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a center for the biological sciences, since 1890. Learn more »

CSHL Oral History Digitization

CLIR Oral History Digitization Project

The CSHL Library and Archives has digitized historical audio and video material with the support of a CLIR grant for Recordings at Risk.
Learn more » about the material that has been digitized and how you can access it.

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