"Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden"

Gregor Johann Mendel, Abbot of the Augustinian Monastery, Brünn, Austria, (now Brno, the Czech Republic), discovered the celebrated laws of heredity which now bear his name. His paper announcing these discoveries, "Experiments in Plant Hybridization," was read at the meetings of the Natural History Society of Brunn in Bohemia (Czech Republic) at the sessions of February 8 and March 8, 1865. It was printed in the Proceedings of the Natural History Society in 1866. Mendel ordered forty reprints of his paper which he sent to various scholars throughout Europe at the end of 1866. According to his biographer, Vit zslav Orel, the location of only eight of these reprints is known today: the Max Planck Institute of Biology in Tubingen, Innsbruck University, Amsterdam University's Institute of Botany, the collection of the Mendelianum in Brno, Gratz University, the library of the Augustinian monastery in Brno, the Lilly Library of Indiana University in Bloomington, and the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan.

The paper passed entirely unnoticed in scientific circles although, according to many history of science scholars, it is one of the three most significant and famous papers in the history of biology. The other two are the Darwin-Wallace paper on evolution by means of natural selection, delivered to the Linnaean Society (1858), and the Crick-Watson letter to Nature on a suggested structure of DNA (1953). Unlike these papers, both of which achieved notice almost immediately, Mendel's contributions were viewed with such skepticism by the scientific and philosophical circles of the time that his work became largely forgotten, only to be "rediscovered" some 34 years later.

In the United States, fourteen libraries currently have original copies of the 1866 Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brunn in which Mendel's "Experiments in Plant Hybridization" is published: The Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia), The American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia), Carnegie-Mellon University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Indiana University, Linda Hall Library (Kansas City), Missouri Botanical Library (St. Louis), the National Library of Medicine (Bethesda, MD), Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Oklahoma. As befits its Augustinian heritage, Villanova University is now the fifteenth institution to have a copy of the Proceedings, thanks to the generosity of the Augustinians of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova.

Mendel's Abbatial Coat of Arms consists of the prelate's hat, miter, crozier, and pectoral cross. The shield is divided into four quadrants:

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© 1996 Frank P. Maloney and Villanova University