Given that the fate of most scholarly productions at most times is to be ignored, a greater problem than Mendel's original "neglect" is why his work was ever resurrected. A classic explanation is that Mendel was "ahead of his time," and that during the next thirty-five years the scientific world "caught up" with him. This explanation has invoked chiefly the intellectual aspects of science; historians have pointed to the discoveries in cytology, development, and evolution that enabled scientists in 1900 to conceptually process Mendel's work. Having scrutinized the circumstances surrounding the rediscovery, I offer an alternative institutional version of the game of "catch-up." Mendel's recent biographers have stressed his rather unique training and background, which combined physics, evolution, and intracellural plant physiology with experience in agricultural breeding. Between 1865 and 1900, the number of both educational and research institutions dedicated to scientific agriculture dramatically expanded, in Europe and even more so in the United States. This produced a swelling profession of scientifically educated agricultural breeders, with a constellation of preparation and interests more similar to Mendel's than were those of his contemporaries who enjoyed state support and permanent academic structures available to support their work. I argue that it is the growth of such scientific agricultural institutions that accounts both for the rediscovery of Mendel's work and for its largely positive reception in 1900.

Key words: agriculture, institutions, Mendel, reception of