New York Aquarium. Fish Genetics Laboratory. Office of Geneticist. Myron Gordon records
Scope and Content
The collection includes correspondence, subject files, and records pertaining to Gordon’s professional travel, grant research, melanoma conferences, graduate students, and genetics laboratory. The correspondence highlights Gordon’s research and publication efforts, his interest in the countries where he collected Xiphophorus stock, and his close relationships with both his students and with many of the leading ichthyologists of his time. The subject files document Gordon’s research interests and duties at the New York Aquarium. His grant files include technical details of his multi-generational genetic research on platyfish and swordtails, while his travel and melanoma conference pertain to his collecting expeditions and his participation in and organization of symposia on genetics and cancer research. Finally, Gordon’s collection includes student papers from his duties as an adjunct professor at New York University and calendars and charts documenting the fish stocks his laboratory maintained.
- 1900 - 1978
- Majority of material found within 1940 - 1958
- Gordon, Myron, 1899-1959 (Person)
Certain portions of this collection are subject to access restrictions. Please contact the WCS Archives regarding possible access restrictions.
Please contact the WCS Archives regarding possible usage restrictions.
Myron Gordon began his affiliation with the New York Aquarium [NYA] in 1939 as a visiting researcher during the early years of his appointment at the American Museum of Natural History [AMNH]. It was during this time that he established what would become the Xiphophorus Genetic Stock Center, maintained first by Gordon and then by his student Klaus Kallman during the entirety of their tenure at NYA and its marine labs, and eventually transferred by Kallman to its current location at the University of Texas. Gordon joined the Aquarium’s staff as a Research Associate in Genetics in 1941 after the original Manhattan building of the NYA was closed and its parent organization, the New York Zoological Society, rented laboratory space for aquatic research at AMNH. In 1944--as part of the staff rearrangements following the resignation of NYA Director Charles M. Breder, who left to become AMNH’s Chairman of the Department of Fishes--Gordon became Assistant Curator at NYA while maintaining his AMNH position. (From the 1940s through the 1960s, NYA and AMNH staff were a close-knit group, with several staff members either holding dual appointments or moving back and forth from one institution to the other.)
By 1947 Gordon was the NYA’s Geneticist, in charge of the Fish Genetics Laboratory. Gordon’s research focused on the genetic aspects of and mechanisms for speciation, sex determination, and tumor development, with a particular interest in melanomas in platyfish and swordtails, the fishes that comprise the Xiphophorus genus (at the time they were considered two separate genera). While at the Aquarium, Gordon continued the collecting expeditions he had begun while a graduate student at Cornell University. These expeditions, which Gordon conducted from the late 1930s through the late 1950s, took him to Mexico and Central America to retrieve wild Xiphophorus stock free of the pedigree and hybridization uncertainties of the domestic stocks that supplied the pet trade of the era. At the same time, Gordon also held a teaching appointment at New York University and organized a series of conferences on the biology of normal and atypical pigment cell growth (what would later be recognized as the first four International Pigment Cell Conferences).
Gordon died suddenly in March, 1959, at the height of his output. In that same year James Atz, Donn Rosen, and Klaus Kallman all received their PhDs from NYU under Gordon’s mentorship. Rosen followed in Gordon’s footsteps at AMNH, chairing the Museum’s Department of Ichthyology from 1965 until 1975. Atz and Kallman took up Gordon’s research at the Aquarium, with Atz continuing his role as Associate Curator and Kallman succeeding Gordon at the Genetics Lab.
NYA Career Chronology
- 1939-1940 Visiting researcher
- 1941-1943 Research Associate in Genetics
- 1944-1946 Assistant Curator and Research Associate in Genetics
- 1947-1959 Geneticist
NYA Career Chronology
- Visiting researcher
- Research Associate in Genetics
- Assistant Curator and Research Associate in Genetics
3.65 Linear Feet (6 Hollinger boxes, 1 carton)
Language of Materials
The collection holds records from Myron Gordon, Geneticist at the New York Aquarium’s Fish Genetics Laboratory. Gordon, who also held a staff appointment at the American Museum of Natural History, was known for his research on the genetic aspects of and mechanisms for speciation, sex determination, and tumor development in platyfish and swordtails, the fishes that comprise the Xiphophorus genus. The collection includes correspondence, subject files, and records pertaining to Gordon’s professional travel, grant research, graduate students, and genetics laboratory. The material documents Gordon’s research and publication efforts, his interest in the countries where he collected Xiphophorus stock, and his close relationships with both his students and with many of the leading ichthyologists of his time, as well as his time spent organizing conferences, his teaching career, and his duties at the New York Aquarium.
This collection is arranged in seven series:
- Series 1
- Correspondence, 1921-1959 (bulk 1947-1959)
- Series 2
- Subject files, 1900-1959 (bulk 1930-1958)
- Series 3
- Travel, 1930-1954
- Series 4
- Grants, 1942-1959
- Series 5
- Melanoma conferences, 1947-1959
- Series 6
- Student papers, circa 1940s-1950s (bulk 1948-1957)
- Series 7
- Calendars and charts, 1949-1969, 1976-1978
Other Finding Aids
The Wildlife Conservation Society Archives holds additional descriptive information pertaining to this collection; please contact the archivist for more detail.
Internal transfers, 1980 (Acc. 1980.151, 1980.153).
- Guide to the Records of the New York Aquarium Geneticist Myron Gordon, 1900-1978 (bulk 1940-1958)
- Finding aid prepared by Leilani Dawson
- August 2014
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script