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Herbert Spencer Jennings papers

Identifier: MS-0062

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Scope and Contents

The collection spans the years between 1893-1945 and includes correspondence, reprints, manuscript lecture notes, and biological drawings. There are about 50 pieces of correspondence, arranged alphabetically by author of letter. In addition, there are 24 reprints of articles by Jennings, lecture notes, and one folder of biographical drawings, and photograph of Jennings (negative print).

Of particular interest in the correspondence are the letters of M. Demerec and L.C. Dunn, which relate to the cancellation of the 7th International Congress of Genetics at Moscow in August 1937, and to the arrest in Moscow of a number of members of the organizing committee. Letters of Joseph Sweetman Ames, Carlyle Barton and Burton E. Livingston pertain to Johns Hopkins University administrative matters; and there are 4 letters of Charles F. Rousselet concerning Rotifera.

Also in the collection are: photograph of Jennings (negative print); 1 folder of biological drawings; and manuscript lecture notes of Jennings on Paracelsus, November 15, 1916; Immanuel Kant and Radl, 1913.


  • Creation: 1893-1945


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Herbert Spencer Jennings (1868-1947) was an American zoologist, geneticist, and eugenicist. His research helped demonstrate the link between physical and chemical stimulation and automatic responses in lower orders of animals.

Jennings was born in 1868 in Tonica, Illinois. Jennings began his scientific education at the University of Michigan where he obtained his Bachelor of Science in 1893. He continued at Harvard from 1895- 1897 receiving his M.A. and Ph.D. From 1898 to 1906 he taught at Texas A & M, the University of Michigan, Harvard, Montana State College, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1906 he came to John Hopkins University as Associate Professor of Zoology and in 1910 he made Henry Walters Professor of Zoology and director of the zoology laboratory of the University. He remained at Johns Hopkins University until his retirement in 1938.

His chief research interests were protozoology and genetics, and he was the author of 10 major works and numerous articles and lectures. Among his books which attracted international attention in the scientific world were: Behavior of Lower Organisms, Life and Death, Heredity and Evolution in Unicellular Organisms, Prometheus--or Biology and Advancement of Man, The Biological Basis of Human Nature, Genetics of the Protozoa, and The Universe and Life.

Jennings was an Associate Editor of The Journal of Experimental Biology, The Biological Bulletin, and Human Biology, and he was a trustee of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass. He held the Leidy Award, Academy of National Science, Philadelphia; Walker Prize, Boston Society of Natural History; and was a member of many scientific organizations. He served as President of the Society of Naturalists in 1911 and of the Society of Zoologists in 1909.

After his retirement from The Johns Hopkins University in 1938, Jennings was stricken by illness in 1946, and he died on April 14, 1947 at Santa Monica, California.


0.94 Cubic Feet (2 legal size document boxes)

Language of Materials



Herbert Spencer Jennings (1868-1947) was an American zoologist, geneticist, and eugenicist. The collection spans the years between 1893-1945 and includes correspondence, reprints, manuscript lecture notes, and biological drawings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was a gift to the University from Dr. Benjamin Harrison Willier in 1972.


In September 1999, 5 copies of letters exchanged between Jennings and H.L. Mencken were transferred to the collection from MS.0034.

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Herbert Spencer Jennings papers
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA