Helen Anne Curry, “Do-It-Yourself Evolution: A Historian’s Guide to Amateur Plant Breeding”

Science on Tap

You might not think of gardening as science. But home gardeners have long been enthusiasts for experimentation of all kinds, and gardens have often doubled as experimental laboratories. On June 11, 2012,  Helen Anne Curry described the efforts of amateur gardeners to create their own new varieties of flowers, fruits, and vegetables throughout the 20th century—using techniques taken straight from the latest in genetics research. These include everything from straightforward techniques, such as selection and hybridization, to more unusual approaches, such as x-raying seeds, spraying shoots with toxic chemicals, and exposing flower buds to radioisotopes. You might even get inspired to try your own hand at evolution!

Helen Anne Curry is a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow at CHF and a student in the Graduate Program in History at Yale University.

Presented by CHF.

Sensing Change

See your environment with fresh eyes through this online exhibit.