Chesney Archives

The Carnegie Institution of Washington Department of Embryology was established in December 1914 as one of numerous research projects operating under the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning (later the Carnegie Corporation). While a separate entity from Johns Hopkins, the Department of Embryology was affiliated with the medical school’s Anatomy Department and enjoyed a close working relationship with faculty, staff, and fellows. It was originally located in the Anatomy building on the Johns Hopkins Medical campus in Baltimore, MD. In 1960 it moved to the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. The Department of Embryology’s main focus between its inception and 1940 involved tracking developmental stages of normal human embryonic growth and locating the nature and cause of embryonic pathologies. The Department was responsible for many early breakthroughs in embryonic development. Read More >

The first director of the Department of Embryology was Franklin P. Mall of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Mall became a proponent of the idea of an institution devoted solely to research in embryology after studying under Carl Ludwig and Wilheim His in Germany. By 1914 he had amassed a collection of nearly 2,000 embryos, and the new department secured permanence for this collection and expanded upon it. The embryo collection is now at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, as part of the Human Developmental Anatomy Center (HDAC). After Mall’s death in 1917, the directorship passed to George L. Streeter, whom Mall had recruited as a Research Associate from the University of Michigan. Streeter headed the Department for 23 years and personally contributed to every major topic in the field except experimental embryology. Streeter resigned in 1940 and was succeeded by George W. Corner, Sr.

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Records of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Embryology

The majority of the collection consists of the personal and professional correspondence of the Directors relating to the Department of Embryology’s administration, finances, and scientific research. The collection includes of Mall’s correspondence prior to 1914 and as such provides information pertaining to his early ideas on embryology and anatomy. Streeter’s correspondence between 1917 and 1940 comprises the bulk of collections material. In addition, the collection includes the Department’s scientific, financial and administrative records, official reports, photographs, and notes and financial records pertaining to the Anatomical Journal Trust.


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