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Underwood, Edgar Ashworth (1899-1980)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0120 PP/EAU
Held at: Wellcome Library
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Full title: Underwood, Edgar Ashworth (1899-1980)
Date(s): 1911-1980
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 19 boxes
Name of creator(s): Underwood | Edgar Ashworth | 1899-1980 | physician and medical historian
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Edgar Ashworth Underwood (1899-1980) was a medical man specialising in public health before making a second career in medical history. Born, 1899; Schooling in Glasgow/Dumfries Academy; Served with Cameron Highlanders in France, 1917-1919; University of Glasgow MA, MB,Ch B,BSc, 1924; Physician at Western Infirmary, Glasgow, 1924; Diploma in Public Health (DPH), 1926; Assistant M O H in Glasgow and County of Lanark, 1926; Deputy M O H County of Rotherham, 1929; Medical Superintendant of Oakwood Sanitarium, Rotherham, 1929-1931; Deputy M O H, City of Leeds, 1932-1934; Lecturer in Public Health, University of Leeds; M O H, Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch, 1934-1937; M O H, Chief School Medical Officer, County Borough of West Ham, 1937-1945; MD, 1936; Fellow of Royal Society of Medicine, 1933; Honorary Secretary of Royal Society of Medicine, 1942-1948; President of Royal Society of Medicine, 1948-1950; Director, Wellcome Historical Medical Museum and Library, 1946-1964; President of the History Section, RSM, 1948-1950; retired, 1964; died, 1980.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Edgar Ashworth Underwood, 1911-1980. The surviving Underwood papers represent a far from complete record of his career. His correspondence is incomplete and his early career in public health glimpsed by a few notes and papers. The bulk of the collection is made up of the drafts, manuscripts and typescripts of his writings, some of which were never published. Underwood was a perfectionist and polished his work many times. However his immense work for a second volume of A History of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London (to follow Wall and Cameron's history and cover the period 1815 onwards) was never published and sadly the drafts appear to lack one chapter (chapter 15) which has evidently strayed. Similarly a great deal of labour was spent on a history of urology in the late 1950s and early 1960s and on a life of Edward Jenner but neither of these works was ever published, Underwood's failing eyesight inhibiting his researches. However, the collection is valuable in that Underwood meticulously researched and checked evidence and normally kept full records of his work: thus anyone interested in the history of medical education or the apothecaries for example should note the numerous transcripts and copies of administrative records and documents held by the Public Record Office, Guildhall, Royal College of Physicians and elsewhere.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is divided into sections as follows:
A: Correspondence (A-Z and general)
B: Public Health early career
C: Catalogues of EAU's Library and correspondence with Reading University concerning its sale
D: Writings, lectures and articles by EAU
E: Edward Jenner: misc writings and material
F: Medical Education and the Apothecaries: notes, transcripts, typescripts, etc.
G: Urology: EAU's draft History of Urology and notes
H: Personal: photographs, awards, bookplates etc.

Conditions governing access:

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers of Edgar Ashworth Underwood were acquired in May 1980 by the Wellcome Library when it received a number of books from Dr Underwood's library. They were given by Dr Underwood's widow Nancy Underwood (adopted daughter of Charles Singer). Some material of Charles and Dorothea Singer, accessioned at the same time, has been incorporated into an earlier deposit of Singer material (see PP/CJS), but it should be noted that the Singer collection also contains papers relating to Underwood. One additional box of papers in the same accession was evidently acquired by Underwood from Sir Arthur MacNalty and has been listed separately as GC/119. A few items of stray papers relating to Dr Underwood's Directorship of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum and Library were incorporated into the Library's archives. Many of his reprints will be found in the Library's reprint collection.

Allied Materials

Related material:

In the Wellcome Library: Papers of Charles and Dorothea Singer, whose daughter Underwood married, are held as PP/CJS; that collection includes some items that arrived at the Library mingled with the Underwood papers. Papers of Sir Arthur Salusbury MacNalty which arrived at the Library mingled with the Underwood papers have been listed separately as GC/119.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Copied from the Wellcome Library catalogue by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
In compliance with ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description - 2nd Edition (1999); UNESCO Thesaurus, December 2001; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Jan 2009

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