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Gaddum, Sir John Henry (1900-1965)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0117 JHG
Held at: Royal Society
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Full title: Gaddum, Sir John Henry (1900-1965)
Date(s): 1922-1965
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 17 notebooks and 64 files
Name of creator(s): Gaddum | Sir | John Henry | 1900-1965 | Knight | pharmacologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Henry Gaddum was born on 31 March 1900 in Hale, Cheshire, the eldest of 6 children. His father was a silk importer who did much charitable work and who had a great influence on his son. He was educated at Miss Wallace's day school in Bowdon, Cheshire, then Moorland House School, Heswall, Cheshire, and from 1913 at Rugby School. He was encouraged to take up science by F A Meyer who later became headmaster of Bedales. He won two leaving exhibitions - one general, one for mathematics. In 1919 he went to Trinity College Cambridge on an entrance scholarship for mathematics, and read medicine. He won a senior scholarship at Trinity in 1922 and obtained second class honours in the Science Tripos (Part II) in Physiology. In 1922 he became a medical student at University College Hospital, London. In 1925 he applied for and won a post at the Wellcome Research Laboratories under J W Trevan, writing his first paper on the quantitative aspects of drug antagonism. In 1927 he went to work for Sir Henry Dale at the National Institute for Medical Research in Hampstead, where he stayed for six years, then accepted the Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Cairo in 1934. In 1935 he was appointed Professor of Pharmacology at University College London, and in 1938 he took the Chair of Pharmacology at the College of the Pharmaceutical Society, London. After the war broke out, he worked at the Chemical Defence Research Station, Porton Down, then later was for a short time in the Army as Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1942 he accepted the Chair of Materia Medica in the University of Edinburgh, where he was happy and built up an outstanding research department which attracted many scientists from abroad. Extra-mural activities became more time-consuming and in 1958 he was invited to become the Director of the Institute of Animal Physiology in Babraham, Cambridge, by the Agricultural Research Council. He enjoyed learning new things, so accepted the post and staffed the Institute with the finest physiologists, with the result it became one of the great international centres for research in physiology and pharmacology. A year before his death he was knighted and awarded an honorary LL.D, Edinburgh. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1929 he married Iris Mary Harmer, M.B., B.Chir., M.R.C.P., daughter of Sir Sidney Harmer, FRS, a zoologist, and Laura Russell.


Scope and content/abstract:

Working papers and correspondence of Sir John Henry Gaddum. The scientific material in the collection centres on a run of student and laboratory notebooks for 1922-1965, together with files of notes and calculations on biological assay and other topics. Further papers concentrate on Gaddum's teaching and publications in the form of lecture scripts, typescripts of articles and related correspondence. Material on his administrative work includes correspondence on conferences and organizations, with some Royal Society papers, but also Physiological Society letters, 1936-1941. Non-paper records such as slides and personal souvenirs are also preserved.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Files in main subject divisions.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to Archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

A short handlist lists files under main subject divisions, giving reference numbers, file/title subjects and chronological extent. Also 2 sheaf catalogues.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Listed by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented to the Royal Society by Lady Gaddum in 1969.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine holds notes (Ref: GC/110), correspondence and papers, 1957-1964 (Ref: GC/213), and correspondence with Henry McIlwain, 1943-1962 (Ref: PP/MCI). The Medical Research Council holds correspondence and papers. His diaries, 1922-1923, are privately held.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description produced by the Royal Society and revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Source: National Register of Archives.

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:
Created 15/03/2002, modified 25/03/2002, revised Sep 2002.

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