Treasury of Human Inheritance

By | November 18, 2021
The Treasury of human Inheritance title plate

The Treasury of Human Inheritance was published 1909-1958. It included 24 numbers of which all were co-published as Eugenics Laboratory Memoirs. Under Pearson’s editorship, Treasury was a subordinate project in the Memoirs series. This position is reflected in Memoirs numbering and advertising. No doubt, the relationship between these two series was an artefact of Pearson’s evolving designs for publishing within GLNE. At some point in 1909–10, midway through the production of numbers that would become Treasury’s first volume, Pearson made the decision to separate that project into something distinct. He assembled the first volume of Treasury from Memoirs 6, 9, 11, 12, 15, and 16. Pearson counted as a separate publication (Memoirs 16) the front matter he created in 1910 associated with conversion of these separates into a standalone whole volume. Pearson secured an endorsement from Galton, which appears as an epigraph (Volume 1, p. ii). He also wrote a programmatic statement to preface the first volume, and he created a frontispiece featuring Galton and four of his ancestors, who supposedly contributed several of his desirable qualities.

Some cataloguers treat this series as a subseries of Memoirs; others treat it as an independent series. Treasury began as a subseries, then evolved into an independent series. It was intended to produce ‘a collection of published and unpublished family pedigrees, illustrating the inheritance in man of mental and physical characters, of disease and of abnormality’, published in quarto on a quarterly basis. Pearson argued Treasurystarted because ‘students of heredity find great difficulty in obtaining easy access to material bearing on human inheritance’. He described Treasury’s value in empirical terms, noting it would ‘contain no reference to theoretical opinions’. Pearson also noted the value of standardization of information in family trees (Questions number 1 (1910) endpapers).

For unknown reasons Pearson chose to continue duplicate listings for individual parts later in the Treasury series also as numbers in the Memoirs series. The result is an inflation of productivity by double-counting twenty-four of the forty-two Memoirs (57%). Table 1 shows the number count of each series. Table 2 removes the double counting in the Memoirs series. Some sections of Treasury numbers during Pearson’s editorship contain revisions or additions between their appearance as separates and as parts of the bound volume. Pearson denotes changes with Greek notation. For instance, in the bound Treasury volume 1, Section X alpha is unchanged from its first appearance in Memoirs; whereas Section VI beta and gamma contain additional material to Section VI alpha. This complexity has confused bibliographers. The bound volumes of Treasury offer the authoritative listing of components.

Owing to its evolving structure, the Treasury series has confused bibliographers. Published separates were described as ‘parts’, and ‘parts’ were later brought together into bound ‘volumes’ of one general subject each. Sometimes ‘parts’ included multiple ‘sections’. Both parts and volumes were available for purchase. This explains the confusing position of Volume 1 Parts I and II in Treasury. These two parts first appeared in 1909 published by GLNE as one separate but not attributed to any GLNE series. (It was not identified on its cover pages as a Memoirs.) Advertisements in the endpapers of that separate, and endpapers in all later separates, identify it as number 6 in the Memoirs series.

Julia Bell (1879-1979) contributed substantially to Treasury, authoring fifteen numbers over three volumes of the Treasury series. Bell was employed by Pearson in the GLNE (1908–14 as research assistant) before leaving to study medicine, receiving MRCP LRCP in 1920 from the London School of Medicine for Women and St Mary’s Hospital. She was re-employed by Pearson at GLNE from 1924–44 as research fellow, first supported by GLNE and later by the Medical Research Council (MRC). Her collaborators at University College included Pearson, Fisher, and Haldane. In 1926, she gained membership of the Royal College of Physicians and was elected FRCP in 1938. Bell served on the MRC genetics committee from 1932 and was a permanent member of the MRC scientific staff between 1933 and 1944.[i]

Pearson edited Treasury Volume 1 (1909–12) and Volume 2 (1933). Julia Bell authored vol. 2, which focused on anomalies and diseases of the eye. Pearson dedicated this volume as a memorial to Edward Nettleship (1845–1913), ‘my friend and co-worker’.

Volume 3 (1925) focused on bone development, featuring a survey by Percy Stocks and Amy Barrington. By comparison, it was short. In a preface, Pearson explained why delays had led to Volume 3 appearing before Volume 2. Most likely Pearson was winding down his publishing prior to retirement.

Volume 4 (1934-48) was edited by Pearson’s successors, R.A. Fisher (edited parts I–IV), and Lionel S. Penrose (edited part V). (This was a serial editorship; not a joint editorship, as Fisher left UCL in 1943 and Penrose was his successor.) Volume 4 consisted exclusively of Julia Bell’s monograph on nervous diseases and muscular dystrophies, published in five parts. In a preface to the volume, Penrose expressed a desire to continue the Treasury series with other subjects.

Volume 5 (1951-58) was written by Julia Bell and edited by Penrose. It focused on hereditary issues associated with digits. This volume included three parts and ended without the customary final indexing number to join the numbers in this volume together.

The Treasury of Human Inheritance series

All numbers of Treasury are available freely through the Wellcome Collection.

Volume I (1912) [volume is untitled; theme is ‘Pedigrees of physical, psychical, and pathological characters in Man’]

Parts I and II. 1909. ‘Diabetes insipidus’, ‘Split-Foot’, ‘Polydactylism’, ‘Brachydactylism’, ‘Tuberculosis’, ‘Deaf-Mutism’, and ‘Legal Ability’ (London: Dulau and Co); contributors include W. Bulloch, P. Fildes, N. Bishop Harman, Jobson Horne, T. Lewis, H. Rischbieth, W. C. Rivers, A. R. Urquhart, A. Barrington, and the Galton Laboratory. (Co-listed as Memoirs number 6.)

Part III. 1909. ‘Angioneurotic Oedema’ (by W. Bulloch); ‘Hermaphrodisism’ (by W. Bulloch); ‘Insanity’ (by A. R. Urquhart and the Eugenics Laboratory); ‘Deaf-Mutism’ (by the Eugenics Laboratory); ‘Ability’ (by the Eugenics Laboratory) (London: Dulau and Co.). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 9.)

Part IV. 1910. Section XII. ‘Hare-Lip and Cleft Palate’. Section VIbeta. ‘Deaf-Mutism’. Section XIII. ‘Congenital Cataract’ (London: Dulau and Co), contributors not specified. (Co-listed as Memoirs number 11.)

Parts V and VI. 1911. ‘Haemophilia’, by William Bulloch and Paul Fildes (London: Dulau and Co). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 12.)

Part VII. 1912. ‘Dwarfism’, by H. Rischbieth and Amy Barrington (London: Dulau and Co). (Co-listed as Memoirsnumber 15.)

[Part VIII]. 1912. ‘Prefatory Matter and Indices to Volume I with Frontispiece Portraits of Sir Francis Galton and Ancestry’, includes: Karl Pearson. 1912. Preface, pp. iii–vi (London: Dulau and Co). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 16.)

Volume II: Nettleship Memorial Volume on Anomalies and Diseases of the Eye (1933)

Part I. 1922. ‘Retinitis Pigmentosa and Allied Diseases’, ‘Congenital Stationary Night-Blindness’, ‘Glioma Retinae’, by Julia Bell and includes: Karl Pearson. 1922. Prefatory Note, pp. v–vii; and J. B. Lawford. 1922. ‘A Memoir of Edward Nettleship’, pp. ix–xv (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 21.)

Part II. 1926. ‘Colour-Blindness’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirsnumber 23.)

Part III. 1928. ‘Blue Sclerotics and Fragility of Bone’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 24.)

Part IV. 1931. ‘Hereditary Optic Atrophy’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 26.)

Part V. 1932. ‘On Some Hereditary Structural Anomalies of the Eye and On the Inheritance of Glaucoma’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 27.)

[Part VI]. 1933. ‘Name and Subject Indices to Volume II’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 28.)

Volume III: Bone Development (1925)

Part I. 1925. ‘Hereditary Disorders of Bone Development’, by Percy Stocks and Amy Barrington (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 22.)

Volume IV: Nervous Diseases and Muscular Dystrophies (1948)

Part I. 1934. ‘Huntington’s Chorea’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirsnumber 29.)

Part II. 1935. ‘On The Peroneal Type of Progressive Muscular Atrophy’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 30.)

Part III. 1939. ‘On Hereditary Ataxia and Spastic Paraplegia’, by Julia Bell assisted by E. Arnold Carmichael (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 31.)

Part IV. 1943. ‘Pseudohypertrophic and Allied Types of Progressive Muscular Dystrophy’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 32.)

Part V. 1947. ‘Dystrophia Myotonica and Allied Diseases’, by Julia Bell with Clinical Notes by J. Purdon Martin (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 33.)

[Part VI]. 1948. ‘Name and Subject Indices to Volume II’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 34.)

Volume V: On Hereditary Digital Anomalies (1951–58)

Part I. 1951. ‘On Brachydactyly and Symphalangism’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 35.)

Part II. 1953. ‘On Syndactyly and Its Association with Polydactyly’, by Julia Bell and Lionel S. Penrose (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 38.)

Part III. 1958. ‘The Laurence-Moon Syndrome’, by Julia Bell (London: Cambridge University Press). (Co-listed as Memoirs number 39.)


[i] MDDUS, ‘Vignette: Pioneering Geneticist, Julia Bell (1879–1979)’, Summons Magazine [MDDUS] (2012); Greta Jones, ‘Julia Bell’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Interestingly, this is not examined by Rosaleen Love, ‘“Alice in Eugenics-Land”: Feminism and Eugenics in the Scientific Careers of Alice Lee and Ethel Elderton’, Annals of Science, 36 (1979), 145–58.