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Pioneer Health Centre Peckham, with papers of George Scott Williamson (1884-1953) and Innes Hope Pearse (1889-1978)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0120 SA/PHC
Held at: Wellcome Library
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Full title: Pioneer Health Centre Peckham, with papers of George Scott Williamson (1884-1953) and Innes Hope Pearse (1889-1978)
Date(s): 1910-1999
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 35 boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 1 oversize volume, 4 folders
Name of creator(s): Pioneer Health Centre
Williamson | George Scott
Pearse | Innes Hope
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

George Scott Williamson:
1884 born, Ladybank Scotland; 1904 goes to Edinburgh School of Medicine; 1906 qualifies MB ChB; 1908-1910 working at Research Laboratory, West Riding Asylums Board; 1910-1919 working in Department of Pathology, University of Bristol; 1914-1918 serving in France with RAMC : Lt-Col in charge of field ambulances; mention in despatches, MC; POW in Germany for 9 months; 1919 awarded MD and Gold Medal; 1920-1926 Pathologist and Director of Pathological Studies, Royal Free Hospital; 1921 onwards engaged in thyroid and goitre work at Royal Free; 1925 gives Arris and Gale lectures, Royal College of Surgeons; 1926-1935 pathologist at Ear Nose and Throat Hospital; continues Thyroid research at St Bartholomew's with Royal College of Surgeons grant; 1950 marries Innes Pearse; 1953 Jun dies; 1969 Science Synthesis and Sanity published posthumously.

Innes Hope Pearse:
1889 born; 1916 receives LMSSA; appointment at Bristol Royal Hospital for Women and Children; 1918 House Surgeon Great Northern Hospital London; 1919 House Physician London Hospital; 1920 Demonstrator, Anatomical Department, St Thomas's Hospital; 1921 onwards engaged in thyroid and goitre work at Royal Free with Scott Williamson; 1950 marries Scott Williamson; 1969 Science Synthesis and Sanity published; 1978 28 Dec dies; 1979 The Quality of Life published

Pioneer Health Centre:
1926 Apr Founding of the first Health Centre, Peckham, at Queen's Road SE5; 1926-1929 115 families join the Centre; 1929 First Centre closed; 1931 Publication of The Case for Action, Pioneer Health Centre registered with Charity Commissioners, 10,000 subscribed by Jack Donaldson followed by another 10,000 from other sources, site on St Mary's Road Peckham chosen for purpose-designed building; 1935 May New Pioneer Health Centre opens; 1938 Publication of Biologists in Search of Material; 1939 Visit by HM Queen Mary, Centre closes for the war; 1943 Publication of The Peckham Experiment; 1945 Publication of Physician Heal Thyself; 1946 Mar Re-opening of Centre; 1948 Premiere of film about Centre; 1950 Centre closes, Williamson and Pearse marry; 1953 Jun death of Williamson; 1969 Science, Synthesis and Sanity published; 1978 Dec 28 Pearse dies; 1979 The Quality of Life published.


Scope and content/abstract:

Minute books, 1926-1927, and Annual reports, 1926-1938, of the Pioneer Health Centre Peckham, and volumes of press-cuttings about the Centre 1929-1961; files, publications and ephemera relating to the activities of the Centre, 1925-1952; files of the Pioneer Health Centre Ltd following the closure of the Centre, 1950-1999; books about the Centre; photographs, films and videos; papers of George Scott Williamson, 1910-1991, including personalia, correspondence, lectures, drafts of articles and books, notes; papers of Innes Hope Pearse, including personalia, correspondence, notes, manuscripts, drafts of The Quality of Life, reprints; materials relating to Scott Williamson and Pearse's research on pathology and the thyroid, including notes, lectures, manuscripts, correspondence, and reprints.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

A. Minute books, Annual reports and press-cuttings, 1926-1967; B. General materials relating to the Centre activities, 1925-1952: B.1 Pilot experiment, 1925-1929; B.2 Planning the next stage, 1929-1935; B.3 Field experiment: first stage, 1935-1939; B.4; War years, 1939-1945; B.5 Field experiment: second stage, 1945-1950; B.6 Closure of Field Experiment, 1950-1952; C. Pioneer Health Centre Ltd: forward from Peckham, 1950-1999; D. George Scott Williamson papers, 1910-1991; E. Innes Hope Pearse papers, 1916-1979; F. Material relating to thyroid/pathology research and teaching, 1909-1937; G. Books about Peckham, 1931-[1992]; H. Photos and A-V material, 1920s-1990s.

NB The material was received in a very disorganised state due to its dispersal, and in very few cases were the files obviously original, so that most of the files are artificial constructs containing related material. Much of the material cannot be dated with any accuracy. There were problems in assigning items to the various subdivisions. Material produced for internal circulation within the Centre or for specific purposes such as fund-raising, was allocated to sections A and B, and items by Scott Williamson and Pearse directed at a wider audience for their ideas have been placed in Sections D and E. The divisions however are very far from clearcut.

Conditions governing access:

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, by prior appointment with Archives and Manuscripts staff and after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking. Please note that access to several files (marked in the detailed list) is restricted. Readers wishing for access to such material may submit a formal application form to Archives and Manuscript staff.

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:

Catalogued by Lesley Hall, Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library, July 2000. Hard-copy catalogue available in Wellcome Library.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The papers were dispersed, being held by a number of individuals connected with the Pioneer Health Centre Ltd who had been involved with the Centre during its active years and with Scott Williamson and Innes Pearse. The initial accession (282) was received in February 1988 from Rev JD Trotter and consisted largely of material by Scott Williamson and Pearse. A second accession (322) of one box of photographs was received from Mrs Pamela Elven in September 1989. In January 1993 a third accession (459) of material which had been in the hands of various individuals connected with Peckham was received via Mrs Elven; this contained much of the material relating to the Centre and its activities, some additional pictorial/audio-visual material assigned to section H, and a few further Scott Williamson and Pearse papers, including the majority of the material on their pathological and thyroid research. A fourth accession of material was received in October 1993 from Rev Trotter (485): this was mainly but not exclusively writings of Scott Williamson. Some home movies of the activities of the Centre were given in March 1997 by Jini Rawlings, a film-maker who had received them from the PHC Ltd to use in a video (A Pool of Information: the search for positive health, H.3/3) (695). A small amount of additional material was received via Allan Pepper in March 1998 (752), mainly relating to the activities of the Pioneer Health Centre Ltd subsequent to the closure of the Peckham building, but including the files of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust relating to their support for the Peckham Centre. There are considerable gaps in the surviving material and it is clear that one substantial file series, for which a list exists at B.5/14, had completely disappeared.

Immediate source of acquisition:

These records were deposited with the Wellcome Library by Rev JD Trotter in Feb 1988 (Acc No 282); Mrs Pamela Elven in Sep 1989 (Acc No 322) and Jan 1993 (Acc no 459); Rev JD Trotter in Oct 1993 (Acc No 485); Jini Rawlings in Mar 1997 (Acc No 695); Allan Pepper in Mar 1998 (Acc no 752)

Allied Materials

Related material:

Material held by Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library: material in Eugenics Society archive (SA/EUG), archives of Society of Medical Officers of Health (SA/SMO), and papers of Sir Allen Daley (PP/AWD)

Material held elsewhere: Some material (duplicates of items held in Wellcome Library) in Southwark Local Studies Library

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description compiled by Lesley Hall

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July 2001

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