Charles Chamberlain Hurst: Correspondence and Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Letters and papers of C.C. Hurst, with annotations made by his wife Rona, who also compiled lists of files and summaries of the correspondence (section A), and used Hurst's letters to write a book, The Evolution of Genetics (section 23).

A. Mrs Hurst's lists and summaries (Box 1)

1. 'The Hurst collection of genetical letters', article in The Mendel Newsletter, No. 11, June 1975.

2. 'List of genetic letters written to C.C. Hurst...', typescript, 44 pp., consisting of a summary of Hurst's career (pp. 1-4), an alphabetical list of correspondents with notes on who they were and what they were writing about (pp. 5-22), and a list of 'Miscellaneous letters, notices, etc., concerned with various societies, conferences and meetings, providing historical perspective to the main letters and sorted in with them' (pp. 23-44).

3. 'Additions to the Hurst collection of genetic January 1976. List of files of material, letters, and notebooks connected with the cytogenetic work on Rosa from 1922 onwards'. Typescript, 32 pp.

4. 'Hurst collection of genetical letters...20 extra letters added March 1977' (pp. 1-2), and 'Contents of files of material for a cytogenetical monograph of the genus rosa, Cambridge 1922-34' (pp. 3-7). The letters have been added to the main series and indexed; the files form section 31 of the collection.

1-22. Letters on Genetics, 1895-1971 (Boxes 1-3)

Letters to Hurst (bundles 1-21), 1895-1946, and to Mrs Hurst (bundle 22), 1948-1971, arranged chronologically, with handwritten notes by Mrs Hurst about writers and subjects filed with them.

23. The Evolution of Genetics, 1971 (Boxes 3-4)

Typescript of an unpublished book by Rona Hurst, based on C.C. Hurst's letters. The preface is dated 8 Jan. 1971. There are 26 chapters (2897 pages) and an appendix, added in 1974.

24. Photostats of letters from Hurst, 1903-1911 (Box 5)

Copies taken from the microfilm of the papers of William Bateson, then in the USA, made in the 1960s. Sections (1) and (3) are apparently lacking.

25. Notebooks on genetical work, 1901-1922 (Box 5)

1-28 Notebooks dealing with Hurst's work at the Burbage Experimental Station, with handwritten slips by Mrs Hurst, and a typescript (11 pp.) summarising the information in them under topic headings.

26. Miscellaneous letters and pamphlets (Box 5)

1-51 Correspondence and leaflets, including photographs of Hurst in 1922 (2 items) and 1934 (all in one envelope).

27. Notebooks on experimental work, 1902-1920 (Box 6)

1-34 Notebooks on work at the Burbage Experimental Station, with handwritten slips by Mrs Hurst.

35-36. Notes made by George Geary of new stock to be ordered in Dec. 1963.

28. Subject files on work of the 1920s and 1930s (Boxes 7-8)

26 files relating to eugenics and genetics; Hurst's books, including The Mechanism of Creative Evolution; cytological research on the Rosa species; war duties; etc.

29. Notebooks on genetical work, 1920s-1930s (Box 9)

1-29 notebooks, with handwritten slips by Mrs Hurst, also described in list A/3.

30. Miscellaneous letters and pamphlets (Box 9)

1-46 miscellaneous leaflets, etc.

31. Files on cytogenetical work on roses, 1922-1934

1-69 files (listed by Mrs Hurst in list A/4).

32. Correspondence on the Hurst papers, c.1969-1977

Mrs Hurst's correspondence with historians, librarians, etc., about the papers and her work on them, giving information on William Bateson, R.C. Punnett, etc., and mentioning the deposit of the papers in Cambridge University Library.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Chamberlain Hurst (1870-1947) was a pioneer geneticist, who began work on the hybridisation of orchids at his father's nursery business at Burbage in Leicestershire in the 1890s. He also worked on the breeding of poultry, rabbits and horses, and set up the Burbage Experimental Station when he inherited the business. He was involved in the early development of Mendelian genetics, which brought him into contact with William Bateson at Cambridge and many other leading geneticists.

The effects of the First World War, in which Hurst served as a signals expert, brought about the closure of the Burbage Station. Hurst moved to Cambridge in 1922 as a Fellow Commoner of Trinity College, to work on cytogenetics, concentrating on roses. His wife died during the War and he subsequently married his cousin and assistant Rona. He wrote Experiments in Genetics (Cambridge, 1925), The Mechanism of Creative Evolution (Cambridge, 1932), and Heredity and the Ascent of Man (Cambridge, 1935).

Hurst lost his private fortune in the Depression of the 1930s, and left Cambridge for Horsham in 1933. He continued to work on roses and orchids, and also did work on potato viruses for Dr R.N. Salaman.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

The correspondence was presented by Mrs Rona Hurst in 1974, with a second deposit of notebooks made in 1976, and two small further deposits in 1977.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue. There are card indexes to correspondents in the Manuscripts Reading Room.