Theodore Hymowitz Papers, 1788-2016
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Brief Description:

Theodore Hymowitz (1934 - ) was a professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois from 1967-2004. He is internationally known for his research on guar and soybean genetics, breeding, seed development, and history.

The papers of Theodore Hymowitz consist of his correspondence, reports, research materials, publications, conference papers and programs, personal papers, and digital photographs of his research trips abroad. As of 2016, Professor Hymowitz agreed to donate his collection of research note books to the archives after completing his memoirs.

This collection is arranged into 4 series. Series 1: Personal Papers, organized chronologically; Series 2: Professional Papers, organized chronologically and alphabetically; Series 3: Publications, arranged chronologically; and Series 4: Photographs of International Research and Travel

Held at:
University of Illinois Archives
19 Library
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61820
Phone: (217) 333-0798
Fax: (217) 333-2868
Email: illiarch [at]
Record Series Number: 8/6/31
Created by: Hymowitz, Theodore (1934 -)
Volume: 4.0 cubic feet
Acquired: 10/05/2016.
More information is available at

This collection is organized into four series.

Series 1: Personal Papers, contains Professor Hymowitz's CV, birth certificates, correspondence, newspaper clippings, academic records, photographs, and other materials related to the personal lives of Theodore Hymowitz and his family. This series also contains documents relating to Hymowitz's military service. An oversized diploma is cross-referenced in folder 3 and located in box 4. The series is organized chronologically.

Series 2: Professional Papers, contains Theodore Hymowitz's awards, correspondence, research notes, grant reports, and conference papers. This series also includes materials relating to Hymowitz's work for Brazil's Instituto de Pesquisas as well as an early research notebook from 1952. The series maintains Hymowitz's arrangement of files. Folders of chronologically organized correspondence are listed first, followed by his alphabetically arranged subject files. Oversized materials are cross-referenced in folders and located in box 4.

Series 3: Publications, consists of books, journal articles, reviews, abstracts, and conference papers authored and co-authored by Theodore Hymowitz. Publications are listed and arranged based on Theodore Hymowitz's digital 2015 CV. Articles, reviews, abstracts, and conference papers are listed first and chronologically. Books are listed at the end of the series.

Series 4: This series contains digital surrogates of slides taken by Theodore Hymowitz during his international research trips. The series includes photographs of research plots, seeds, herbicide effects, plant disease, and irrigation systems. Researchers need to be aware that the dates listed for digital slides are the scanning dates. I.e. Professor Hymowitz had his slides scanned in 2008 and 2009, during which the original order, labels and dates of the analog slides were not preserved. Because analog slides were discarded after scanning, the archives was unable to recreate original order, labels, and dates. To date slides, researchers are advised to consult Hymowitz's 2015 CV for the dates of his various international research trips, keeping in mind however that Hymowitz repeatedly returned to countries throughout his career.

Biographical Note for Hymowitz, Theodore (1934 -) :

Theodore Hymowitz (1934 - ) was a professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois from 1967-2004. He is internationally known for his research on soybean genetics, breeding, seed development, and history.

Theodore Hymowitz was born in New York City, on February 16, 1934, to Polish immigrants Ethel and Bernard Hymowitz. Hymowitz attended the orthodox Crown Heights Yeshiva day school and then the Boys High School in Brooklyn. In September 1951, he enrolled at Cornell University, where he completed his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture in 1955. In 1957, Hymowitz completed his Master of Science degree in agricultural chemistry and soils at the University of Arizona. Shortly after graduation, Hymowitz was drafted into the U.S. Army. During his twenty-one month tour of duty, Hymowitz worked in a microbiology laboratory at the Quartermaster Research and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts "studying the chemistry of compounds used to protect cotton fabrics from deteriorating in tropical climates." According to him, he received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in January 1959 after being accepted to Oklahoma State University, where he earned his Ph.D. in agronomy in 1963. Upon graduation, Hymowitz moved to Brazil, where he worked as a researcher for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Sao Paulo, Brazil until late 1966. Hymowitz joined the University of Illinois's Department of Crop Sciences as an assistant professor in 1967 and as full professor from 1970 to 2004.

Professor Hymowitz is internationally recognized for his research on soybean genetics. However, much of Hymowitz's early research focused on the genetics of guar or cluster bean, a leguminous plant grown in India and Pakistan. In 1962, Hymowitz won a Fulbright scholarship to travel to India, where he conducted extensive research on guar. This research led him to develop the model of trans-domestication in which humans move a wild species from its place of origin to another region and subsequently domesticate it.

Hymowitz became interested in soybean genetics when working in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he helped establish the Brazilian National Soybean Commission. He left Brazil in late 1966 and began working at Illinois in early 1967, where he continued his work in soybean genetics. In late 1967, he established the department's soybean genetics program. In the late 1970s, he was the first person to locate a soybean lacking the Kunitz tryspin inhibitor, an anti-nutritional component of soybean seed. This discovery eventually led to the development of the Kunitz soybean variety, which was released for commercial development in 1990. Hymowitz was also the first person to successfully produce a hybrid soybean plant by crossing the domestic soybean with a wild perennial species from Australia, Glycine tomentella. Hymowitz also helped assemble the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection, which currently houses over 20,000 seed varieties. Currently, Professor Hymowitz is working with a team of researchers to develop a soybean with reduced levels of proteins that cause allergenic and anti-nutritional effects. In addition, Hymowitz has published several papers on soybean history; for instance, C. Thornton and Hymowitz were able to document that soybeans were brought to Georgia, North America, in 1764.

Hymowitz retired from the University of Illinois in 2004. He continues to publish materials on soybean genetics and history. Theodore Hymowitz was married and has three daughters.


Theodore Hymowitz, "A Soybean Saga," Paul A. Funk Recognition Program, 1991.

Subject Index
Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, College of
Faculty Papers