Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



Interview, Jackson Laboratory, History, Transcript, Susan Mehrtens

JAX Location

The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine

JAX Source

The Jackson Laboratory Historical Archives


Susan Metrhens' Note:

This unusual four-way interview was held in Frank Clark's apartment in Ellsworth, at the request of Allen Salisbury, who was reluctant to be interviewed alone. Only because numerous individuals assured me that Salisbury was essential to get as a narrator did I agree to such an arrangement. As it stands, we do get some of Salisbury's vivid anecdotes and colorful vignettes, e.g. C.C. Little as Santa Claus, tearing the backside out of his Santa costume in climbing in a window, but at the price of eclipsing the quieter, less aggressive or loquacious narrators (i.e. Clark). These three narrators are th~ee of the oldest former employees of the Lab. Clark, in fact, was one of the original six hired by Little in 1929. Given such longevity, each of these men speaks to the changes he's seen at the Lab, with a hagiographic veneration of C.C. Little. Any user of this tape should bear this in mind. Not surprisingly, Little's successor, Earl Green, gets a poorer press. This tape's assessments must be balanced by other interviews, e.g. Harrison's, which offer other views of Green. Certainly, the historian can see the effect of personality and the vastly different personalities of Little and Green, by comparing tapes like this one and Harrison's. The oblique reference made here to the circumstances of Little's retirement need to be compared to the accounts on other tapes. I question the objectivity of these early Lab employees, who tend to regard the Little years as an incomparable halcyon period, seemingly never aware of the inevitability of institutionalization and change in style with new Directors. Value this tape for its lively, vivid and unique anecdotal material, as well as the perspective of three local men evaluating scientists ("Doctors" in their terms) and a scientific laboratory that was, for each of them, the only place they ever worked.