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Last Updated: 29 Sep 2013

ESP Foundations

Classical Genetics

The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project was originally created to provide access to important works associated with the foundations of classical genetics. The site has now been extended to provide access to other materials as well. This page has now become the root page for the classical genetics holdings.

Featured Works

Featured Books

A. H. Sturtevant. A History of Genetics.

In 1965, A. H. Sturtevant, the creator of the world's first genetic map, published this history of genetics. It is now back in print AND available on-line in full-text format.

The book was produced as a joint product of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and the Electronic Scholarly Publishing project.

Featured Papers

Calvin B. Bridges. 1916. Non-disjunction as proof of the chromosome theory of heredity (part 1). Genetics,1:1-52.

Calvin B. Bridges. 1916. Non-disjunction as proof of the chromosome theory of heredity (part 2). Genetics,1:107-163.

In these papers, published as the first paper in the first volume of the new journal Genetics, Calvin Bridges provides PROOF that genes are real, physical objects that are carried on chromosomes.


What's New

Check here for new publications, changes to the site, and other news.

Collection of Publications, that can be browsed by author, by title, or by date of publication.

Browse our annotated collection of papers and books related to genetics.


Genetics in Context - A Comparative Timeline

Genetics in Context offers a dual timeline, with scientific events (especially those relevant to classical genetics) presented against those of general historical and cultural interest. Dynamic links are provided to relevant documents at the ESP site and elsewhere.

This feature gives historical context for milestones in the history of genetics. For example, did you know that Darwin published Origin of Species the year before Lincoln was elected President, while Mendel published his findings the year after Lincoln was assassinated?

Check out these and other events in Genetics in Context

Reading Lists

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Background & Goals


As the Human Genome Project (HGP) generates amazing results and garners positive publicity in the scientific, the commercial, and the lay press, an increasing number of individuals are becoming interested in understanding this project and its results. Since the HGP has potentially significant ethical, legal, and social implications for all citizens, the number of individuals who do, or should wish to become familiar with the project is very high. In addition to its importance in the training of professional geneticists, the HGP is of special relevance for undergraduate training in basic biology, and even for high-school and other K-12 education.

Understanding the results of HGP research requires a familiarity with the notions of basic genetics. Unlike other disciplines that evolved over centuries, modern genetics began abruptly with the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's work, and within a few years, fundamental concepts were elaborated and the foundations of genetics established. Because genetics developed so rapidly in just a few decades after 1900, the literature of that period constitutes a valuable resource even now. It may be read profitably by students and scientists wishing to understand the foundations of their field, as well as by laymen or historians of science. Unfortunately, the early literature is rapidly becoming almost inaccessible. Newer libraries do not hold older journals and even established libraries are moving their materials from that era into hard-to-reach (and impossible to browse) long-term storage in remote warehouses.

To be sure, key studies from the early work are discussed in nearly all textbooks, but a comparison of these presentations with the actual literature shows that most textbook treatments have essentially mythologized the early work so that real understanding is lost. There have been several collections of classic works developed over the years (although none lately), but these suffer from the effects of the necessary, but nonetheless pernicious, highly selective sampling that accompanies these projects. Such selectivity, coupled with introductions that offer essentially modern interpretations of the work, obscure the intellectual rigor and excitement of the original efforts.

To address these problems, the Electronic Scholarly Publishing project was established to republish classic literature in genetics in electronic form, so that access to these essential works will be trivially easy for all those with access to simple web-browsing software.

Making the results of genome research widely available and accessible (both intellectually and physically) is a key goal of the ELSI component of the Human Genome Project. By providing interested parties worldwide with ready access to the intellectual foundations of genetics, the proposed electronic-publishing project will greatly facilitate the achievement of that goal.

Old Page Content

To assist users in relocating material they have used on the old site, we will (temporarily) provide access to a copy of the old site's equivalent page (below), running on a separate server.

This temporarily maintained old site will not be updated, so you should switch to the new design as soon as possible.

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Foundations Series

Foundations of Classical Genetics was the original entry in the Foundations Series created by the Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project. This page is the new version of that document.

The new improved and expanded Foundations Series will include all of the old content and functionality, along with new topics, new material, and new features.

Be sure to check out the new Reading Lists and Essays sections.

If you are in a hurry, note that a copy of the old Foundations of Classical Genetics page is available (temporarily) at the bottom of this page.

ESP now generates lists of the most popular downloads for the last day, week, month, year. Click HERE to see what others in the ESP community are downloading.