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Viktor Hamburger Papers

Identifier: WUA-03-wua00490

The Viktor Hamburger Papers consists of a small set of personal papers containing awards and a yearbook as well as a selection of slides and audiovisual materials featuring Hamburger.

Audiovisual materials are located in the Film and Media vault.


  • 1933-2000


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


1.50 linear feet

4 boxes

Biographical Information

Viktor Hamburger was one of the most important and influential embryologists of the twentieth century. Born on July 9, 1900 in Landeshut, Silesia (then part of Germany; now within Poland) to Max Hamburger and Else Gradenwitz. He was educated in Germany under Hans Spemann at the University of Freiburg. Following post-doctorates in Göttingham and Berlin-Dahlem, Hamburger accepted a Rockefeller Fellowship to study in Frank Lillie's lab at Chicago.

Due to political changes in his homeland, in 1935, Hamburger began a nearly 50-year tenure at Washington University in St. Louis, including 25 years as chairman of the Zoology Department. His Manual of Experimental Embryology, first published in 1942, demystified accessing and manipulating early embryos for several generations of students. He retired from his professor position in 1969 and continued researching until the 1980s.

Best known for his work in experimental embryology and neuroembryology, Hamburger’s publication topics range from color changes in fish during their mating season to the geology of Silesia, from mechanistic explanations of human birth defects (in the 1930's) to analyses of the influence of vitalism on early embryologists. The Heritage of Experimental Embryology: Hans Spemann and the Organizer (1988) brings to the current generations a sense of the excitement and uncertainties present during this early period of discovery, illuminating the personalities and conceptual perspectives of key researchers involved.

He died on June 12, 2001.

Source of Acquisition

Accession number WUA2018-061. Transferred to University Archives by Gar Allen from the Department of Biology, September 25, 2018

Related Materials

See also the “Viktor Hamburger Virtual Exhibit”

Other Descriptive Information

Audiovisual materials are located in the Film and Media vault.

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Schnuriger and Caroline Riffle in 2019.

Viktor Hamburger Papers
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 April 1: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495