Papers of Guido Pellegrino Arrigo Pontecorvo, alpine plant research correspondence

Scope and Content


  • Correspondence relating to Pontecorvo's alpine research, c1950s-1990s;
  • Draft manuscript and correspondence between Pontecorvo and the Oxford University Press about research for his book on alpine plants, c1970s-1990s;
  • Notes and photographs relating to Pontecorvo's research on snow cover in the Swiss Alps, c1970-1996.

This description is part of the main  Guido Pontecorvo collection which has been divided into the following sections, each with its own separate description:  

Administrative / Biographical History

Guido Pellegrino Arrigo Pontecorvo(1907-1999), who liked to be known by his nickname, Ponte, was an Italian geneticist who became the University of Glasgow's first Professor of Genetics in 1955, and has been described as "one of the founding fathers of modern genetics". He endowed prizes and scholarships for students at the University and the Genetics Building was named for him in 1995. Born and educated in Pisa, Pontecorvo was forced to leave Italy in 1938 and settled in Scotland. He was appointed a lecturer in Genetics at the University's Zoology Department in 1945, and a new department was set up in the Anatomy laboratories of the Anderson College building soon afterwards. He became a Reader in 1952, three years before his appointment to the new Chair. He left Glasgow in 1968 to take a post at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund's laboratories in London. Pontecorvo was one of the leading figures of his day in the study of of cell genetics. For a more detailed biography see the  full Pontecorvo collection description.

Aside from genetics Pontecorvo's life long passion was alpine plant photography and ecology. He set aside each summer for pursuits to some of the world's most spectacular alpine regions, and his collection contains thousands of slides of alpine flowers and their habitats which he was using to research a book on plants at high altitudes (sadly this was never finished). He visited various mountains and national parks in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s, in the 1970s he travelled to Iran to study the flora of the Fars region and Mt Elburz. He explored the Himalayas in India and the Tien Shan and Kunlun mountains in China in the 1980s. These trips were organized with the help of The Royal Society or at the invitation of local academies and were often combined with lecture tours and courses. Ponte often made excursions to mountains a precondition for accepting invitations.


Arranged chronologically within record series.

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures. Duplicates were removed.

Related Material

GB 248 UGC 198/6 contains boxes of slides of alpine plants and flowers and their habitats, taken by Pontecorvo over a number of years in vatious locations around the world.

GB 248 UGC 198/7 contains some of Pontecorvo's publications on apline plants and habitats

GB 248 UGC 198/8 contains Pontecorvo's notes on lectures about alpine plants and habitats.

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives,ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives,Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Collection catalogued by Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing) from February 2011 to August 2011. Converted to Encoded Archival Description by Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing) February 2012 and Michelle Kaye, Archive Assistant, February 2012.

Geographical Names