Talk:Barbara McClintock

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Featured article Barbara McClintock is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on March 6, 2006.
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older entries[edit]

McClintock was honored with a commemorative stamp by the United States Postal Service in May 2005 in the series celebrating great american scientists (along with Feynman, who already has this information in his page, Von Neumann and Gibbs who don't). A link is here:

Would anyone want to update the article with this information?

Thanks for pointing that out I'll update the article to include the stamp as soon as I get a chance--nixie 21:20, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for the response. If you've a moment, I bet that Von Neumann and Gibbs need similar updates, though Feynman seems to have a dedicated following. I don't feel comfortable enough yet editing well-established pages other than making small grammar or spelling changes, and I don't think I'll have time to read the tutorial more until this weekend.

If you are planning to keep editing, it'd be great if you'd sign up to make an account, that way people can get to know you--nixie 03:09, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Shouldn't all the dates be linked? Mgiganteus1 02:23, 6 March 2006 (UTC)


Looks like we're using the most elderly picture we could find. Why not one more like this? It was taken at the time that she was actually doing her research. --Doradus 13:08, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree. This current picture is screaming vandalism...

(Oh come on... the current picture is so sexy...) On a more serious note, I looked and could not find a single picture of her with a verifiable license. Anyone who could find such a picture would be welcome to replace the current one. Raul654 19:51, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
What about the stamp? JohnRussell 20:00, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Great suggestion, especially since the stamp is not used anywhere in the article and the current elderly picture seems to have copyright issues --Georgeryp 03:00, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Did anyone follow through on this? It looks like the American Philosophical Society holds her papers, and the linked image above is on their website. I can contact them to see if they have or can donate a better illustration of McClintock in her prime. --lquilter 23:50, 6 October 2007 (UTC)


I have this page on my watch list. Did something happen in the news today re McClintock, why the sudden blip in vandalism? David D. (Talk) 19:57, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Take a gander at the main page Raul654 20:06, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
John just clued me into this fact. Can we semi-protect the page? David D. (Talk) 20:11, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
See user:Raul654/protection Raul654 20:51, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I've sprotected it for a few minutes. Lets leave it blocked for 10-15 minutes and see what happens. Such severe vandalism as this could put people off Wikipedia for good.--File Éireann 21:33, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Unprotected - keep an eye out!--File Éireann 21:43, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
SProtected again! The vandalism is just too severe.--File Éireann 21:54, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

The quote from source #26 is nowhere to be found in the linked document... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:02, 31 January 2008 (UTC)


I found another major set of McClintock's papers at the APS, added that one, and pulled out that one and the NLM into a slightly separate section. They're not exactly the same kind of "Further reading" as all the other references in the bibliography because although one can read the indexes online, one would have to go to the collection to do further reading. Perhaps there are other ideas/opinions about formatting, however? --lquilter 00:08, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

hi —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:17, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

How to mention her Nobel Prize[edit]

I find it odd that an article about a Nobel Laureate would not mention the prize in the first line. In this case, it wasn't mentioned in the first paragraph at all! Adding to the weirdness of this text is the outlining: the second paragraph is the entire content of a subheading, "Biography"! Of course, the entire article is a biography of her, including the lead paragraph, which introduces her scientific career and ends with a distinction she received in 1944. Now, I certainly noticed that the Nobel was mentioned in the *infobox*, but how perverse it is to put it there and not in the lead. After all, after her work itself, the Nobel is the most noteworthy thing about her.

On May 6, I added the Nobel Prize the the opening sentence. I didn't even scroll down to the "Biography" paragraph.

PDH has undone my edit. They're somebody who has contributed heavily to this article in the past, but not since May 2007. Now they jump in with a defamatory remark: "missed vandalism?" Not only defamatory, but obtuse: what the hell is "missed" supposed to mean, that PDH didn't notice something for a couple of days? You can tell by looking at PDH's user page that they're the type that enjoy's giving offense.

I can well expect that people will disagree with my views on this. But if you can't say why your way is better, addressing the arguments I've made, don't muck things up. Hurmata (talk) 11:26, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Well, now that I moved from comparing recent versions to looking at the last version, I see that PDH can at least claim a "Bravo!" for abolishing the spurious "Biography" heading. Now, if they would opt to communicate plainly what their objections to this and that are. Hurmata (talk) 11:53, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree that mentioning the Nobel in the opening sentence is a good thing. This article needs work, in my opinion, so please think about further improvements. PDH may have thought that one paragraph (the one containing the word 'unshared') had been deleted by a vandal some time ago, and no-one had seen it. I doubt he meant 'vandal' to refer to you. (In the interest of good relations, you might consider removing your critical comment about PDH that you left above). The article could certainly use a better picture. EdJohnston (talk) 13:25, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
As a point of social responsibility, people need to be more thoughtful about what that write. "Missed vandalism?" is so stripped down grammatically that it can't be interpreted with certainty (*who* missed *what* vandalism?). But on the other hand, it readily lends itself to misunderstandings. The description appears right before a deletion in the opening sentence, so any reasonable person would link these two. The deleted material is *my* edit. Ergo, my indignation has not lessened.
An appeal to fortify good relations ought to be directed to *all* parties in a dispute. Aside from that, I might consider removing a critical comment of mine if it were possible to remove the critical comment that prompted it and the person behind *that* comment were to take advantage of the possibility. Hurmata (talk) 06:08, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
The construction of the first three or so paragraphs seems to follow a narrative strategy that is benign, but quirkily inappropriate for this, an encyclopedia article. The strategy seems to be to create a storytelling event, with creation of dramatic tension as to what magnitude of glory the subject attained. But this is not a book nor a magazine essay. Imagine postponing until the fourth paragraph George Washington's service as commander of the rebel army and first president of the new nation!
I browsed the BLPs for Nobel laureates Millikan and Mulliken. Some ideas there. Hurmata (talk) 09:46, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

"demonstrated demonstrated"[edit]

In the latest second paragraph there is this continuous passage: "became well understood in the 1960s and 1970s, as researchers demonstrated the mechanisms of genetic change and genetic regulation that she had demonstrated in her maize research in the 1940s and 1950s". Well, this makes sense and is conceivably apt, but much more likely is that the close repetitions of the word "demonstrated" are *not* apt. Someone familiar with the evolution of this article, or with the history of the reception of McClintock's work, should fix this. I expect the correct statement is along the lines of "replicated the mechanisms ... she had demonstrated", "replicated the demonstration ... she had achieved", etc. Hurmata (talk) 11:53, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Lead on a new photo[edit]

Following up on EdJohnston's observation yesterday, above, I just searched the Web with Google Images —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hurmata (talkcontribs) 10:00, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Unclear sentence[edit]

During this period, she demonstrated the presence of what she called the nucleolar organizers on a region on maize chromosome 6, which is required for the assembly of the nucleolus during DNA replication.

It sounds as if assembly of the nucleous has something to do with DNA replication. But the assemby required for rRNA synthesis and maturation is an independent process. Obviously, when the chromosomes are condensed and the nucleus breakes down there is no nucleolus but this is not the point.--Mstislavl (talk) 09:06, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Renew semiprotection?[edit]

In the last three weeks, no IP has left an edit summary, though I can't quite tell if all the changes are vandalism. They keep on making unsourced changes, like about the place she lived at various times. To prevent errors gradually taking over the article, I suggest that the semiprotection be restored. Would anyone object to that idea? EdJohnston (talk) 02:26, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Error in publication of papers[edit]

The American Philosophical Society has reorganized its web site. The link to the Barbara McClintock papers from 1902 to 1991 is broken. The correct link I think is at but someone more knowledgeable may want to check this before updating the main wiki article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:18, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

Edit request from, 25 May 2010[edit]

{{editsemiprotected}} "...she is the only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in that category." What about Rosalyn Yalow ? - The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1977 - "for the development of radioimmunoassays of peptide hormones" (talk) 22:26, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made.--mono 23:20, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Rosalyn Yalow shared her Nobel Prize with Roger Guillemin and Andrew V. Schally. MacDaid (talk) 19:02, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

article needed citations[edit]

There are many places where this article lacks citations. I've noted a few but there are many more. MacDaid (talk) 18:57, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

HuffPost blog[edit]

For what it's worth, this criticism appeared in a HuffPost blog. I am not familiar enough with this topic to comment on whether the criticism ought to be acted upon or not, and if so, in what manner.

Among the 20th Century's truly great biologists, the pioneering American geneticist Barbara McClintock is still largely unknown to the public -- except, perhaps, for the fact that her views were decidedly different from those of her mainstream colleagues. Among her accomplishments, McClintock was the first person to document genome repair by living cells. But this fundamental discovery does not appear in the introduction to the Wikipedia biography highlighting her major achievements.

Wikipedia reflects the general perception that the work for which McClintock received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology -- the discovery of transposable elements in maize (corn) -- arose more or less independently of previous work. Transposable elements are chromosome segments that can change position, or "transpose," in the genome. The results that led her to describe and document transposable elements did come as a complete surprise -- but a surprise for which she was well prepared (McClintock 1984; McClintock 1987).

KConWiki (talk) 15:21, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Work needed[edit]

Hello everyone - Unfortunately, this article does not meet the current standards for a featured article. The major issues is that it is significantly under-referenced, with many sections and paragraphs being partially or completely unreferenced. Another issue is the relatively large proportion of references to works written by the article's subject, in spots where third-party referencing is needed. The size of the further reading section makes me wonder if the article is comprehensive, or if it is just that these articles need to be worked in to the in-line citations to rectify the referencing issues. More minor issues, such as page numbers needed for books, date standardization and a clarification needed tag, also exist. If work is not completed on these issues in the next few weeks, this article will need to be taken to WP:Featured article review for a possible revocation of its featured status. Dana boomer (talk) 17:54, 17 September 2012 (UTC)


Hi Wikipedians - I have to update this page for one of my classes, and I was wondering if you all had any thoughts. I was mainly going to fix things that were grammatically incorrect (omitting words, adding commas, etc.). I also want to add details about her college life and her time at Cornell University. I want to also correct some facts, regarding why McClintock went to live with her aunt and uncle and when her family moved to Brooklyn. Thoughts? Cmyang2265 (talk) 05:31, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

Image Deletion[edit]

I reverted the edit deleting the two images in the early life section. The edit summary stated:

(→‎Early life: rm images of dubious copyright)

According to the image description and the source links, these photographs are dated before 1 January 1923 and are in the public domain in the United States. If editors feel that these images do not improve the article, then by all means delete them. However, it would be most unfortunate to lose content due to ambiguity regarding their copyright status. — James Estevez (talk) 01:56, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

Hey James, I removed the images because of a discussion I had with User:Dana boomer over at the FAR (Wikipedia:Featured article review#Barbara McClintock. Since the publishing date isn't known, we can't really use the images because we don't know if they're under copyright or not. I emailed the National Medical Library and they told me they didn't know either; they just knew when they were created. I'll be contacting the American Philosophical Society, who were the original recipients of the McClintock Papers, to see if they can shed some light, but for now I don't think they can be used, which is unfortunate (though images are not my area of expertise, please do correct me if I'm wrong). I'm hoping the APS knows about the publication date and that it turns out to be PD-old because I would really like to include them. Best, Keilana|Parlez ici 02:57, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
OK, I follow. I read the relevant portions of WP:PD, having to do with unpublished works but I'm not certain either. If you have the time I'd suggest listing these at Wikipedia:Possibly unfree files. However, even if they're not PD the FA criteria permit the use of nonfree images within the scope of the Non-free content criteria. Given the totality of the circumstances, I think that one or both of them would meet those criteria. Nevertheless, I'll defer to your judgement for future edits.— James Estevez (talk) 05:05, 16 March 2013 (UTC)



I have to edit this page for my History of Science in America Class. Because the page is semi-protected and I created a Wikipedia account recently, I am not considered an established registered user therefore I can not add to or edit existing information. The information that I wanted to include was a little more detailed on her childhood as well as her time at Cornell University. I was going to include the following:

When discussing her relationship with her mom, Barbara's relationship with her mother wasn't nearly as strong as the one with her father and instead was "...a difficult one from the beginning--she didn't like to talk about it much to anyone, but my sense was that her mother simply found her difficult, baffling, unmanageable.. despite what was always a strained relationship between them, McClintock's mother fully supported her unconventional daughter, who was a loner and an oddball, preferring to play sports with boys or read--or just sit and think" (Nina V. Fedoroff).

While at Cornell, Barbara attended the only genetics course that was offered to Cornell students. At this time, women were not allowed to major in genetics despite her love for the field therefore received her undergraduate degree in botany. Despite the resistance Barbara faced with the subject of majoring in genetics, she went on to become “…a highly influential member of a small group who studied maize (corn) cytogenetics, the genetic study of maize at the cellular level” (Olivier Bodenreider). Beginning her study of maize cytogenetics, “Barbara rapidly figured out how to identify each of the maize chromosomes, laying the groundwork for a veritable explosion of discoveries that connected the behavior of chromosomes with the genetic properties or organisms and defining the new field of cytogenetics” (Bodenreider).


Bodenreider, Olivier. "Profiles in Science: National Library of Medicine." Barbara McClintock Papers: Biographical Information (1993): n.pag. Profiles in Science. Web. 11 Apr 2013. <>.

Fedoroff, Nina. "Two Women Geneticists." 65.4 n.pag. History Reference Center. Web. 09 Apr 2013. < — Preceding unsigned comment added by Alseaborn914 (talkcontribs) 21:47, 17 April 2013 (UTC)