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Bernard Ogilvie Dodge (1872-1960)

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Records of the Laboratory (RG5)
25.3 linear feet (24 boxes)


Bernard Ogilvie Dodge (1872-1960) was a mycologist whose study of the common bread mold Neurospora significantly advanced the science of genetics and biochemical genetics in the twentieth century. Dodge was born on April 18, 1872, in Mauston, Wisconsin. He received his B.A. at the University of Wisconsin (1909) and his Ph.D. in botany and physics at Columbia University (1912), where he was a research fellow in field botany. He continued at Columbia as istructor in Botany until 1920, when he joined the Bureau of Plant Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. as a plant pathologist. His early studies of reproduction in microscopic fungi of the family Ascobolaceae, fungal parasites of fruit, and rusts of trees led to important findings in the development of plant disease control.

In 1928 The New York Botanical Garden appointed Dodge plant pathologist, a position which he retained until his retirement in 1947. During this time he was also a consultant in mycology for the Presbyterian Hospital and a lecturer in dermatology for the College of Physicians and Surgeons, both in New York City. Dr. Dodge continued as plant pathologist emeritus and consultant in mycology until 1957. While his official duties involved the control of plant diseases and insect pests, he assiduously pursued research on Neurospora, often on his own time and with limited resources.

In 1927, Dodge began systematic investigation into the life history, cytology, and genetics of microscopic molds in the genus
Neurospora (formerly Monilia), on which he published 42 scientific papers. He identified three species (N. crassa,
N. sitophila, and N. tetrasperma) and demonstrated regularities in the Mendelian nature of inheritance in this fungus that
made it a critical tool in many research applications. Dodge's findings on Neurospora and his association with George Beadle
and Edward Tatum led to the latter receiving the Nobel Prize in 1958 for demonstrating the role of genes in biochemical
processes. Dodge also discovered that the ascospores of Neurospora would germinate after being heated, and he developed
techniques of crossing this organism to establish the ascospores in culture, important for studies of mutation.

Dodge published 162 scientific papers; with Harold W. Rickett he published Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants
(1943). Dodge served as associate editor of Mycologia (1923-32), editor (1932-40) of the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, and vice-president (1934) and president (1935) of the Mycological Society of America. He was convener of the section on fungi and fungus diseases of the 3rd International Microbiological Congress (1939), and vice-president of the 7th International Botanical Congress in Stockholm (1950). His participation in scientific and botanical organizations included the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an honorary membership in the British Mycological Society. The New York Botanical Garden presented Dodge its Distinguished Service Award in 1951. He died in New York City on August 9, 1960.


The Bernard Ogilvie Dodge collection consists of correspondence; research, business, and personal papers; manuscripts and typescripts; and graphic material such as photographs, diagrams, charts, lantern slides, and watercolor illustrations pertaining to his career at the USDA (1924-28), The New York Botanical Garden (1928-47), and post-retirement work to 1957.


Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Research Papers
Series 3: Manuscripts and Typescripts
Series 4: Photographs and Diagrams
Series 5: Lantern Slides
Series 6: Artwork
Series 7: Business Records
Series 8: Personal Papers

Series 1:    Correspondence, 1909-1957
                   5.8 lin. ft. Arranged chronologically, then alphabetically.

There are 191 files of correspondence  arranged chronologically (1924-56), then alphabetically within each year or period (e.g. 'Jan 1928 - May 1929'). Subjects include diseases of ornamental plants, barberry eradication, studies of ascomycetes, and the genetics and microbiology of Neurospora. Several files (1924-28) relate to Dodge's work with the USDA. The remaining 64 files are arranged alphabetically by subject or correspondent. Eleven files consist of Torrey Botanical Club correspondence, and 21 files with the International Microbiological Conference III (1938). Correspondents include George Beadle, Joshua Lederberg, and Carl Lindegren. There is 1 chronological index (notebook) of correspondence (1938-42). For personal correspondence, see Series 8: Personal Papers.

Series 2:    Research Papers, 1912-1953
                   1.1 lin. ft. Arranged chronologically.

The research papers consist of 15 files on plant pathology, Neurospora research, and related mycological subjects and 9 laboratory notebooks (1934-55). Six files on Notes on Diseases and Insects contain records of descriptions and diagnoses of plant pathogens and hosts, based on field collection. There are 2 index files, one arranged alphabetically by fungal disease and insect pest, and one by host name.

Series 3:    Manuscripts and Typescripts, 1924-1947
                   2.1 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.

There are 13 files of Dodge's work and 5 files of other authors. Six are manuscripts of publications on Neurospora; others pertain to plant pathogens and various mycological subjects.

Series 4:    Photographs and Diagrams, 1928-1953
                   11.6 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.

There are several photographic sequences of Neurospora in culture, and graphic exhibits of its cytology and life cycle. There are also a variety of photomicrographs, diagrams, and charts that illustrate the microbiology of plant pathogens (e.g., rusts of Rubus and Juniperus) and other predacious fungi (e.g., Gymnosporangium and Ustilago). All material is organized alphabetically by genus where possible; one sequence is ordered by author's name. There are many unidentified diagrams and detached diagram pieces separated from original paste-ups. There are also titled and captioned photo and diagram sequences used for exhibit. A small selection of personal photos is located in Series 8: Personal Papers (see below).

Series 5:    Lantern Slides, 1928-1947
                   2.5 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.

There are 9 boxes of lantern slides of botanical subjects, fungi, cultures, and microscopic views of Neurospora.

Series 6:    Artwork, 1928-1947
                   1.25 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.
There are 9 files of watercolor illustrations of plant diseases and insect pests. Most of them illustrate pathogenic effects on plant life such as boxwood and opuntia.

Series 7:    Business Records, 1939-1944
                   0.5 lin. ft. Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of 1 box of canceled personal checks.

Series 8:    Personal Papers, 1901-1950
                   0.5 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.

This series includes personal correspondence, news clippings, photographs, memoirs, and essays. Personal correspondence with Captain Charles Towne (1940, 1942) and Frances Robotti (1949) pertains to Dr. Dodge's inquiries concerning the genealogy of a family ancestor, Rebecca Nourse (or "Nurse") who was executed in the Salem, Massachusetts witchcraft trials of 1692.

Related Collections

The New York Botanical Garden

RG5    William Jacob Robbins Records

RG5    Pascal Pompey Pirone Records

American Philosophical Society Library

            Bernard Ogilvie Dodge Papers, 1908-1961

Processed January 1999 by David Rose under a grant from the Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation.

For more information and a complete description contact:
Susan Fraser, NYBG Archivist
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
(718) 817-8879

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