Karl Sax (1892-1973) papers, 1938-2001.
General Physical Description note
(23 boxes and 2 oversize folders)
Terms of Access
Photocopies may be made at the discretion of the Arnold Arboretum Archives staff. Permission to make photocopies does not constitute permission to reproduce or publish materials outside the bounds of the fair use guidelines.
Extent5 linear feet
Karl Sax (1892-1973) was born in Spokane, Washington and received a B. S. in agriculture from Washington State in 1916. He earned an M.A. in biology from the Bussey Institution of Harvard University in 1917 and served in the US Army from 1917 to 1919. Sax joined the staff of the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Maine, and earned a D.Sc. from the Bussey Institution in 1922 while serving at Maine until 1928. In 1928, Dr. Sax was appointed Associate Professor of Plant Cytology at the Arnold Arboretum, faculty at the Bussey Institution, and became a full professor in 1936. When Elmer D. Merrill retired as director of the Arnold Arboretum in 1946, Sax was appointed acting director and director the following year. After stepping down as director in 1954, he remained as Professor of Biology until his retirement in 1959.
Dr. Sax was a pioneer researcher in cytology and genetics, focusing on chromosomal studies and their application to cross breeding of agricultural varieties. His studies of the methods of chromosome breakage used experimental exposure to X-rays and other types of radiation. His influential 1938 paper, "Chromosome aberrations induced by X-rays" opened up a new area of investigation subsequently developed by other scientists. His contributions in horticultural plant breeding produced many hybrid plants, which he named. After Sax left Harvard in 1954 he served as Visiting Professor of Botany at Yale University and spent the following year in Oxford, England as recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship
Sax became concerned about the problems of feeding an ever-expanding world population. He was a spokesman for the Planned Parenthood organization, and wrote a book on population problems, Standing Room Only. In his retirement years, Sax received grants from the National Institutes of Health to support his study of the radiometric effects of common products like coffee, cola drinks, drugs, and food additives.
In 1987 the National Academy of Sciences published a biographical memoir of Dr. Sax written by Carl P. Swanson and Norman H. Giles.
Sax wrote many articles for the Arboretum’s journal Arnoldia which are available to read online:
- “Plant Hybrids.” Arnoldia 3: Vol. 5, 1931 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1931-5--plant-hybrids.pdf)
- “Flowering Habits of Trees and Shrubs.” Arnoldia 3: Vol. 6, 1932 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1932-6--flowering-habits-of-trees-and-shrubs.pdf)
- “Plant Breeding at the Arnold Arboretum.” Arnoldia Vol. 7, No. 2, 1947 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1947-7--plant-breeding-at-the-arnold-arboretum.pdf)
- “The Bussey Institution.” Arnoldia Vol. 7, No. 3, 1947 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1947-7--the-bussey-institution.pdf)
- “Rootstocks for Lilacs.” Arnoldia Vol. 10, No. 9, 1950 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1950-10--rootstocks-for-lilacs.pdf)
- “Dwarf Trees.” Arnoldia Vol. 10, No. 12, 1950 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1950-10--dwarf-trees.pdf)
- “Plant Breeding at the Arnold Arboretum.” Arnoldia Vol. 15, No. 2, 1955 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1955-15--plant-breeding-at-the-arnold-arboretum.pdf)
- “Paste the Poison Ivy.” Arnoldia Vol. 16, No. 2, 1956 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1956-16--paste-the-poison-ivy.pdf)
- “The Juvenile Characters of Trees and Shrubs.” Arnoldia Vol. 18, No. 1, 1958 (http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1958-18--the-juvenile-characters-of-trees-and-shrubs.pdf)
- Series I: Biographical Material
- Series II: Correspondence
- Series III: Manuscripts
- Series IV: Plant Records and Research
Processing Information note
- "The Bailey Plan"
- "The Controversy"
- Agriculture -- Experimentation
- Dwarf shrubs
- Dwarf trees
- Fertilization of plants
- Gypsy moth
- Nurseries (Horticulture)
- Plant accessions
- Plant breeding -- Research
- Plant genetics
- Plant propagation
- Planting (Plant culture)
- Plants -- Effect of radiation on
- Plants, Flowering of
- Karl Sax (1892-1973) papers, 1938-2001.
- Finding aid prepared by Liz Francis
- EAD ID
Part of the Arnold Arboretum Archives Repository
The Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library is a specialized collection devoted to the study of temperate woody plants. We collect works on botany, horticulture, floras, urban forestry and taxonomy. The library contains more than 25,000 volumes and 40,000 photographs, and includes an archive that both documents the Arboretum's history and is a repository for 19th, 20th, and 21st century horticultural and botanical collections.
Jamaica Plain MA 02130 USA