Skip to Main Content

Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives (CHOMA)

Anne Sayre Collection of Rosalind Franklin Materials

Administrative/ Biographical Note

After reading James Watson's The Double Helix (1968), Anne Sayre was inspired to work on an account of the role of Rosalind Franklin in the discovery of the structure of DNA. Sayre felt that the portrait of her friend Franklin (who had died in 1958) that emerged from Watson's book was not only unflattering, but wrong. After publication of Rosalind Franklin and DNA in 1975, Sayre deposited all her research materials with the ASM Archives: background materials and notes; correspondence; and interviews (taped and, in some instances, transcribed). Of additional interest is the file of post-publication correspondence, which provides insight into the reaction to Sayre's book.

Excerpted from Wikipedia:

Anne Sayre (née Colquhoun; April 10, 1923 – March 13, 1998) was an American writer well known for her biography of Rosalind Franklin, one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA.[1]

She was married to an American crystallographer David Sayre (1924–2012).[2]

Her literary contributions are in short stories, the earnings from which she supported her husband during his PhD course. She achieved her lifelong educational ambition of getting a law degree in her early 50s. She ultimately became justice of the local court in Head of the Harbor, New York. She was a lifelong friend of Franklin, who played a key role in the discovery of the chemical structure of DNA. A strong feminist, her 1975 book, Rosalind Franklin and DNA, became an exposition of the account of sexism in the scientific community on one hand, and the true genius of the Rosalind Franklin in her contributions to molecular biology on the other hand.

Anne Sayre - Wikipedia, accessed May 10, 2023.

 

Excerpted from her NYT obituary:

Anne Sayre, a short story writer turned scientific sleuth who helped establish the important role played by the British crystallographer Rosalind Franklin in the discovery of the structure of DNA, died on Friday at a hospital near her home in Bridgewater, N.J. She was 74 and the author of the 1975 book ''Rosalind Franklin and DNA.''

Until Mrs. Sayre's book was published by Norton in 1975, Rosalind Franklin had been little more than a footnote to the history of the discovery of the double helix, the form taken by deoxyribonucleic acid, the stuff of heredity.

In their 1953 paper in the British journal Nature, James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick, who first constructed a model of the DNA molecule, barely mentioned Dr. Franklin and gave her none of the credit for their conceptual breakthrough.

A decade after Miss Franklin's death in 1958 and six years after he, Dr. Crick and Dr. Franklin's associate, Maurice Wilkins, won the Nobel Prize in 1962 for their work on DNA, Dr. Watson provided a hint of Dr. Franklin's contribution.

In his 1968 best-selling book ''The Double Helix,'' Dr. Watson acknowledged that he had seen a diffraction X-ray photograph of the DNA molecule taken by Dr. Franklin, but he left it unclear just what role the photograph had played in the discovery a few weeks later of the DNA structure.

That role might have remained a mystery if Dr. Watson had not provided such an unflattering portrait of Dr. Franklin that it outraged many international crystallographers.

Anne Sayre, 74, Whose Book Credited a DNA Scientist, Dies - The New York Times (nytimes.com), accessed May 10, 2023.

 

Scope and Content

Arrangement

Primarily organized alphabetically (Boxes 2-5), also carved out are biographical material and information regarding the publication of Rosalind Franklin and DNA- early drafts and related publicity.  There are eight boxes total. All images included in the donation are located in Box 4, Folder 24: Photographs.  Audiotapes are in Box 6. These were transferred to CD ROMs, that are stored in Box 8.

Contact the ASM Archivist for further information.

 


Box 1:

About the Collection

  • Letters from Anne Sayre to L. S. McClung.
  • List of contents.

Background Material:

  • Articles about DNA research; Crick; Franklin etc. (Complete list in folder).
  • Notes by D. & A. Sayre.

Who's Who:

  • Biographical material.

Box 2:

Agar, Delia:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from interview.

Altmann, Mrs Simon:

  • Notes from interview. (See also Box 6 tape 2)

Brown, Geoffrey:

  • Notes from interview. (See also Box 6 tape 4)

Caraffi, A. J.:

  • Notes.

Caspar, D. L. D.:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from notebook.
  • Notes.
  • See Box 1 "Background Material" for publications.

Cochran, William:

  • Correspondence.

Cohen, Carolyn:

  • Correspondence.

Correspondence - Miscellaneous: 

Crick, Francis H. C.:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from interview.
  • See also Box 1 "Background Material" for publications by and about Crick.

Crick, Odile:

  • Notes from interview.

Donnay, Gabrielle:

  • Correspondence.

Flint, Einar - 8/69-5/70

  • Correspondence.

Flint, Einar - 6/70-1/75

  • Correspondence.
  • Attached to letter dated 2/9/70: parts of letters to A.S. from R.E.F.

Franklin - Family:

  • General.
  • Newspaper clippings.
  • Notes.

Franklin Glynn, Jennifer:

  • Correspondence.
  • Interview.

Franklin, Muriel:

  • Correspondence.

 


Box 3:

Franklin, Rosalind E. - Correspondence:

  • To:
        • Her family
        • F. H. C. Crick
        • M. Mathieu
        • A. L. Patterson
        • A. & D. Sayre
        • A. Weill

  • See also Box 2 "Flint, Einar - 6/70-1/75" and Box 6 tapes 4 & 5.

Franklin. Rosalind E. - Publications & Papers: 1946-1955.

  • Complete list in folder.

Franklin. Rosalind E. - Publications: 1956 -

  • Complete list in folder.

Franklin, Rosalind E. - Publications:

  • Comments, mainly by E. Flint and D. Sayre.

Franklin, Rosalind, E. - Miscellaneous:

  • C.V.
  • Notebook notes.
  • Notes on meeting w. Sir W. Slater.
  • Interim annual reports.
  • Annual reports.
  • Notes on Gordon Conference in New Hampton, 1956.

Franklin, Rosalind E. - Obituaries:

Franklin, Rosalind E. - Memorial Committee:

  • Correspondence.


Box 4:

Goldman, James A.:

  • Correspondence.

Gosling, Raymond G.:

  • Interview. (See also Box 6 tape 2)

Grdenic, Drago:

  • Correspondence.

Hadzi, Dusan:

  • Correspondence.

Hansen, Jean:

  • Notes from interview. (See also in Box 6 tape 4)

Hemily, Philip:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from interview.
  • See also "Paris trip".

Hodgkin, Dorothy:

  • Correspondence.

Holmes, Kenneth:

  • Correspondence.

Janeway, Elizabeth

  • Correspondence

Klug, Aaron:

  • Correspondence.
  • Interviews. (See also Box 6 tape 6).
  • A.K. correspondence with M.H.F.Wilkins.

Kranjc, Katarina:

  • Correspondence.

Livingstone, Mair:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from interview. (See also Box 6 tape 4)

Luzzati, Vittorio & Denise:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from interview.
  • See also "Paris trip".

Lwoff, Andre:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notebook notes.
  • (see also Watson, J.D. for Lwoff's review of The Double Helix)

Mering, Jacques:

  • Correspondence.
  • Interview.
  • Also w. Rachel Glaesser.
  • See also "Paris trip"

Neuner, I. F.:

  • Correspondence.

Newnham College:

  • Correspondence.

Norrish, R. G. W.:

  • Correspondence.

North, Margaret:

  • Notes from interview. (See also Box 6 tape 2)

Olby, Robert:

  • Correspondence.
  • For interview see Box 6 tape 5.

Paris trip:

  • Complete notes from interviews with P. Hemily, V. & D. Luzzati, J. Mering & R. Glaeser, & A. Weill.

People seen:

  • List.

Permissions:

  • Permissions to quote.

Piper, Anne:

  • Notes.

Photographs:

Proposal - Rosalind Franklin & DNA.:

  • Proposal.
  • Correspondence.

Randall, John:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from interview.
  • Notes on R.E.F.'s application to King's College. (See also Box 6 tape 6)

Rimel, A.:

  • Correspondence.

Stora, C.:

  • Correspondence.

Watson, J.D.:

  • Correspondence.
  • Interview. (See also Box 6 tape 3).
  • Copies of his correspondence w. R. E. F. Reviews of The Double Helix.
  • See also Box 1 "Background material" for articles by and about Watson.

Weill, Adrienne:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from interview.

Wilkins, Maurice:

  • Correspondence.
  • Notes from interview.
  • M. W. correspondence with A. Klug.

Rosalind Franklin & DNA - Article.

  • Article by A. Sayre.

Rosalind Franklin & DNA - Reviews.

Rosalind Franklin & DNA - Talk.

  • Talk given by A. Sayre at meeting of NOW Northern Westchester. Correspondence.

 


Box 5:

Various early drafts.

  • "Draft 1".      
  • "Revision".      
  • "Revision ii".      
  • "Final draft".


Box 6:

Cassette tapes:

Tape #1:

  • Sayre interviewed by Prof. Hertzler and his students.

Tape #2

  •  Summary of interviews with Margaret North (see also Box 4 "North, Margaret") and Mrs Simon Altmann (see also Box 2 "Altmann, Mrs Simon"). Interview with R. Gosling. (See also Box 4 "Gosling, Raymond G").

Tape #3

  • Interview with J.D. Watson. (See also Box 4 "Watson, J.D.").

Tape #4

  • Summary of interviews with Geoffrey Brown (see also Box 2, "Brown, Geoffrey); Jean Hansen (see also Box 4 "Hansen, Jean") and Mair Livingstone (see also Box 4 "Livingstone, Mair"); and some notes on R.E.F.'s background.

Tape #5

  • Summary of meeting with Robert Olby. Interview with Robert Olby. (See also Box 4 "Olby, Robert").

Tape # 6:

  • Information received from Sir. J. Randall (see also Box 4 "Randall, John"); interview    with A. Klug (see also Box 4 "Klug, Aaron".

Tape # 7:

  • R.E. Franklin correspondence with her family.  See also Box 3 "Franklin, Rosalind E.            - Correspondence"

Tape # 8:

  • R.E. Franklin correspondence with her family.  See also Box 3 "Franklin, Rosalind E.            - Correspondence"

Tape # 9:

  • R.E. Franklin correspondence.  From Watson etc.

Tape # 10:

  • Documentation of a Director’s Meeting, unidentified.

BOX 7:

  • Post publication correspondence A-E:
  • Post publication correspondence F-L:
  • Post publication correspondence M-R:
  • Post publication correspondence S-Z:

BOX 8:

CD ROM’s as follows:

(see also Box 6) Every CD has a master copy and a user copy IE (2) copies of each disc.

CD # 1:

  • Sayre was interviewed by Prof. Hertzler and his students.

CD # 2:

  • Summary of interviews with Margaret North (see also Box 4 "North, Margaret") and Mrs Simon Altmann (see also Box 2 "Altmann, Mrs Simon").  2-disc series.
  • Interview with R. Gosling.  (See also Box 4 "Gosling, Raymond G.”) Total run time= 1 hour, 2 minutes. There are discrepancies with the transcript.

CD # 3:

  • Interview with J.D. Watson.  (See also Box 4 "Watson, J.D.")

CD # 4

  • Summary of interviews with Geoffrey Brown (see also Box 2, "Brown, Geoffrey); Jean Hansen (see also Box 4 "Hansen, Jean") and Mair Livingstone (see also Box 4 “Livingstone, Mair"); and some notes on R.E.F.'s background.

CD # 5:

  • Summary of meeting with Robert Olby.  Interview with Robert Olby.  (See also Box 4 "Olby, Robert"). Total run time= 43 minutes. Appears complete despite being marked as 1 of 2. Begins with Sayre’s intro of Olby and ends with a wrap up.

CD # 6:

  • Information received from Sir. John Randall (see also Box 4 "Randall, John"), total run time= 16 minutes; Sayre reflection on JR interview; notes on Klug interview.
  • Interview with A. Klug (see also Box 4 "Klug, Aaron.”)  2-disc series. Disc 1 total run time= 47 min; Disc 2 total run time= 46 minutes with David Sayre.

CD # 7 and 8:

See also Box 3 "Franklin, Rosalind E.- Correspondence.”  Note for these, the Master Copies seem to be compromised/ not running correctly. Also note that none seem to start at a beginning but all start in the middle of a thought or recording.

  • R.E. Franklin correspondence with her family, CD A.
  • R.E. Franklin correspondence with her family, CD B.
  • R.E. Franklin correspondence with her family, CD C and D= 2-disc series.

Tape # 9:        NOT INCLUDED IN CD COLLECTION

R.E. Franklin correspondence.  From Watson etc.

CD # 10:

  • Documentation of a Director’s Meeting, unidentified.

Processing Note

This collection was originally processed by ASM Archivist Helen Zilinskas in August of 1990.  At some point the tapes were transferred to CD ROM’s, which were put directly on the shelves. In May of 2023, ASM Archivist Colleen Puterbaugh updated this document with CD Rom’s and completed the Scope/ Content/ Biographical Notes. She also boxed and labeled Box 8.

Descriptive Rules Used

Describing Archives: a Content Standard (DACS)


Access & Use

Finding Aids

Finding aid available.

Finding Aid: Anne Sayre Collection of Rosalind Franklin Materials - Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives (CHOMA) - Research Guides at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (umbc.edu)

Access Conditions

No restrictions.

Conditions Governing Reproductions and Use

Reproductions allowed for research purposes. Copyright maintained by the creator.