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Brown, Sir George Lindor (1903-1971)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0117 GLB
Held at: Royal Society
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Full title: Brown, Sir George Lindor (1903-1971)
Date(s): 1925-1970
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 226 files and 20 volumes, including sets of slides
Name of creator(s): Brown | Sir | George Lindor | 1903-1971 | Knight | physiologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Brown was born in Liverpool on 9 February 1903, son of George William Arthur Brown, schoolmaster in Warrington, and Helen Wharram. He attended Boteler Grammar School in Warrington, and entered the University of Manchester on a scholarship to study medicine, where A V Hill, the Nobel prize winner, was his professor of physiology. He took an honours B.Sc. in physiology in 1924, then won the Platt Physiological Scholarship which enabled him to do research with B A McSwiney, earning an M.Sc. (1925). He qualified in Medicine in 1928 (MB, Ch.B Manch.), winning the Bradley Prize and medal for operative surgery. He joined McSwiney as lecturer in physiology at Leeds University in 1928, taking six months' leave to work in Sir C S Sherrington's laboratory at Oxford, and collaborating with J C Eccles. In 1934 Sir Henry Dale offered, and Brown accepted, a post at the National Institute for Medical Research in Hampstead, where he worked with (Sir) John Gaddum and W S Feldberg establishing the cholinergic theory of chemical transmission. In 1942 the Royal Naval Personnel Research Committee was established, and he became involved very successfully with diving and underwater operations, remaining Secretary to the RNPRC until 1949, and then its chairman until 1969. In 1949 he accepted the Jodrell Chair of Physiology at University College London, where he strenghthened the physiology and biophysics departments under (Sir) Bernard Katz and worked with J S Gillespie on adrenergic transmission. He served on various Royal Society committees, becoming Biological Secretary, 1955-1963. In 1960 he accepted the Waynflete chair of physiology in Oxford, becoming a Fellow of Magdalen. He also became a member of the Franks Commission of Inquiry into the working of Oxford University. In 1967 he resigned his chair to be elected Principal of Hertford College Oxford, although he continued with his research group in the pharmacology department. He was responsible for inaugurating the College's major apeal, negotiated two senior research fellowships, and dealt lightly with student restiveness. He married in 1930 Jane Rosamond, daughter of Charles Herbert Lees, FRS, Professor of Physics in the University of London and Vice-Principal of Queen Mary College, and had one daughter and three sons.


Scope and content/abstract:

The correspondence, papers and scientific notebooks of Sir George Lindor Brown. The majority of notebooks relate to the investigations of Brown and his co-workers (notably Feldberg, Harvey and Maycock) at the National Institute for Medical Research, Hampstead, into neuromuscular transmission. The correspondence and remaining papers cover Brown's administrative work in the decades from the 1950's. His relationships with the Royal Society and the Medical Research Council are well represented. The papers include personal files, correspondence with institutions and individuals, working scientific notes and sets of slides.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

One box of reprints, speeches and lectures; one box of files on personal interests; five boxes of files on organisations, arranged alphabetically; twenty workbooks; remainder of files listed alphabetically by correspondent.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

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

Finding aids:

A brief handlist is available, presenting the papers in box and file order, title of each file, its chronological range and reference number. Detailed catalogue available at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented by Lady Brown in 1972.

Allied Materials

Related material:

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.

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 24/04/2002, modified 24/06/2002, revised Sep 2002

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