Viktor Hamburger papers
Conditions Governing Access
10 boxes (six 24" x 12" boxes, two 20" x 11" x 3½" boxes, and two 16 millimeter films)
In 1932, Hamburger came to the United States on a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship to work with F. R. Lillie at the University of Chicago, studying chicken embryos. Hamburger had intended to return to Germany at the end of his fellowship, but in early 1933 was informed that he had been “cleansed” from his teaching position at the University of Freiburg because of his Jewish ancestry. Hans Spemann wrote from Germany, advising him to look for a position in the United States.
The Rockefeller Foundation extended Hamburger’s fellowship for another two years after which he found a position on the zoology faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, becoming chair of the department in 1941, and remaining at the university for the rest of his career. From 1937 to 1945, Hamburger spent summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole as an instructor in the embryology course and later as head of the course.
Viktor Hamburger was a pioneer in the field of experimental embryology. Important areas of study during his long career include the stage classification of normal chick embryo development; the discovery, with Rita Levi-Montalcini, of nerve growth factor (NGF); the study of programmed cell death; and the development of behavior. Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen received the Nobel Prize in 1985 for their work with NGF—work that they had begun with Hamburger—leading many to feel that Hamburger had been unjustly overlooked by the Nobel committee. Hamburger did receive many other honors in recognition of his work throughout his career. Among these, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1953 and awarded the National Medal of Science in 1989. He remained active in scientific research throughout his life, living past his 100th birthday. His ashes are interred in Woods Hole.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Part of the Marine Biological Laboratory Archives Repository