Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 565–605

“The ‘Domestication’ of Heredity: The Familial Organization of Geneticists at Cambridge University, 1895–1910”


DOI: 10.1007/s10739-004-5431-7

Cite this article as:
Richmond, M.L. J Hist Biol (2006) 39: 565. doi:10.1007/s10739-004-5431-7


In the early years of Mendelism, 1900–1910, William Bateson established a productive research group consisting of women and men studying biology at Cambridge. The empirical evidence they provided through investigating the patterns of hereditary in many different species helped confirm the validity of the Mendelian laws of heredity. What has not previously been well recognized is that owing to the lack of sufficient institutional support, the group primarily relied on domestic resources to carry out their work. Members of the group formed a kind of extended family unit, centered on the Batesons’ home in Grantchester and the grounds of Newnham College. This case illustrates the continuing role that domestic environments played in supporting scientific research in the early 20th century.


Cambridge biology domestic science Edith Rebecca Saunders history of genetics Mendelism William Bateson women in science 

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary Studies College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan AffairsWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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