The Bateson Letters Collection

William Bateson was the Director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution from 1910-1926. He was a pioneer of the new science of genetics and coined the term Genetics in a letter to Prof. Adam Sedgwick in 1905. Bateson was very much involved in the experimental work and controversy that had followed the rediscovery in 1900 of Mendel’s papers on plant hybridization.

The John Innes collection of Batesonia comprises some 10,000 items of correspondence, notebooks, diaries, articles and specimens.

It includes correspondence with his wife, Beatrice Bateson and other scientists and geneticists including: Erwin Baur (1875-1933); Francis Galton (1822-1911); Julian Huxley (1887-1975); Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945);

Many of the Bateson papers are originals, but the John Innes Archives throughout the seventies and eighties entered into a programme of acquiring copies of  Bateson material from other libraries holding significant collections, namely Cambridge University Library and the American Philosophical Society Library.

The Letters are thus divided into six separate sections with individual numbering systems. These are catalogued in the Bateson Letters Database.

The Bateson Letters Database

The entire collection is catalogued in the Bateson Letters Database. Searching is possible by subject, letter reference number , location , author, recipient, and document date. It is also possible to search by author AND recipient/subject/date by using the picklist author field.

Researchers wishing to explore the JIC collection can search the database for relevant material, and then contact the Librarian, Kate West (, to either arrange a visit or request further information.