The alphabetical arrangement by topics is for convenience only and does not reflect the chronology of Darlington's research interests. His earliest work, on plant chromosomes, is documented in the laboratory notebooks, microscope observations and notes under 'Genetics', and his interest in eugenics is also shown to be of early date (MS. Darlington c. 21/D.6). The large component subsumed under 'Social Genetics' indicates his later concentration on such problems as evolution, population genetics, intelligence and the like.
The material under 'History' includes documents (some originals, some photocopies from the archives of the John Innes Institute) on William Bateson and his family, and a substantial section on the history of Soviet genetics and Western attitudes to it. Darlington was one of the leading British opponents of Lysenkoism, and a personal friend and strong supporter of Vavilov who had collaborated with Bateson in the early years of the John Innes. Darlington wrote several tributes and obituaries when news of his friend's death was received and lived long enough to witness his rehabilitation. The Lysenko controversy illustrated divisions of opinion among British intellectuals, several of whom such as J.B.S. Haldane, J.D. Bernal and G.B. Shaw supported Lysenko's views. The background material is a useful assemblage of contemporary pamphlets, articles and press cuttings on the subject.
Most of the topics contain some notes, ideas and drafts by Darlington, and a little correspondence, but a considerable proportion is background information - articles, scientific papers, press cuttings - usually kept in an envelope or stiff cover with a descriptive title now shown in inverted commas in the entries. Almost all the documents bear comments, summaries or assessments by Darlington. For reasons of space, and at the request of the receiving institution, material without annotation has been discarded and, when only the title page bore a comment, that alone has been retained. They are of interest for the light they throw on the development of Darlington's views on a topic and also on general thinking at the time, whether or not this was in line with his own. They help to illustrate the formulation of his ideas and hypotheses, and the composition of some of his later work. The folders also indicate the wide range of Darlington's reading, which is further attested by the very numerous notes found in books in his study at home (see MS. Darlington c. 34/D.182-206, 'Notes on reading').
- Creation: 1902-1981
Language of Materials