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Wellcome Historical Medical Museum

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0120 WA/HMM
Held at: Wellcome Library
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Full title: Wellcome Historical Medical Museum
Date(s): 1874-[1984]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 513 boxes
Name of creator(s): Wellcome Historical Medical Museum
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

In 1897 C J S Thompson (CJST) began to collect books and manuscripts for Henry Solomon Wellcome's library.

In 1898 CJST became an employee of Burrough Wellcome and Co.

In 1903-1904 an Historical Medical Exhibition was planned.

In 1911 the Historical Medical Museum was established at 54a Wigmore Street, which in 1914 became the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum (WHMM).

In 1931 the Wellcome Research Institution opened in 183 Euston Road and in 1932 the WHMM moved into the new building.

In 1960 the ownership of the historical collections transferred from the Company to the Trustees; although administration was still carried on by the Company.

In 1966 the Trust established a sub-department of the History of Medicine in the Department of Anatomy, at University College London (UCL).

In 1968 the WHMM and Library were renamed the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, 1874-[1984], comprising reports, correspondence, administration records, staff files, inventories, diaries, registers, notebooks, financial records, details of exhibitions and events, visitors books, photographs, publications, presscuttings, and papers relating to Henry Solomon Wellcome's personal life including arrangements for his funeral.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The archive of the WHMM is a large and complex body of records. Although the archive has survived in a fairly complete form, it has suffered from periodic and partial rearrangement schemes, which have obscured original archival order by removing some materials from their context or by creating new sequences.

The arrangement that follows in this catalogue attempts to reflect the original order where it remained, but it also retains some of the later, rearranged schemes. These later schemes are most evident in the chronological correspondence sequences WA/HMM/CO/Chr and Alp, where a new filing scheme was imposed in the 1960s on earlier sequences dating from 1922-1952.

At the time of cataloguing, materials which had been removed from their original archival context were replaced in this context wherever possible. However, in some cases this context was not identifiable, so a few artificial series were created to pull together materials of a similar apparent provenance or function.


RP/Hmm General WHMM Reports

RP/Dea Dean reports

RP/Mal 'Wellcome & Malcolm'

RP/Tho 'Thompson Reports'

RP/Jst 'Johnston-Saint Reports'

RP/Jst/A. Ms travel diaries

RP/Jst/B. Ts reports and correspondence

RP/Sta 'Staff Reports'

RP/Lac Lacaille reports

RP/Kem Kemp reports


CO/Hme Historical Medical Exhibition 1903-1913

CO/Ear 'Early correspondence' 1904-1921

CO/Abc Alphabetical series A-C 1921-1952

CO/Chr Chronological series D-Z 1922-1963

CO/Chr/A. 1922-1924

CO/Chr/B. 1925

CO/Chr/C. 1926

CO/Chr/D. 1927

CO/Chr/E. 1928

CO/Chr/F. 1929

CO/Chr/G. 1930

CO/Chr/H. 1931

CO/Chr/J. 1932-1952

CO/Chr/K (A-Z) 1953-1963

CO/Sub Subject sequence 1931-1954

CO/Wel Wellcome bodies 1922-1952

CO/Wel/A WBSR 1922-1932

CO/Wel/B Dean and Malcolm memoranda 1929-1931

CO/Wel/C Dean and Underwood memoranda 1932-1952

CO/Wel/D Wellcome Foundation Limited 1935-1939

CO/Wel/E Other files 1927-1944

CO/Sai Saint correspondence 1921-1940

CO/Sai/A General correspondence 1921-1940

CO/Sai/B 'Saint, private' 1933-1945

CO/Sai/C 'Heugshem' 1933-1946

CO/Sai/D French Scientists 1933-1945

CO/Sai/E Belgian correspondence 1934-1940

CO/Sai/F Exposition Internationel, Paris 1937

CO/Sai/G Xth International Congress for the History of Medicine, Madrid 1935

CO/Eau Underwood correspondence 1946-1964

CO/Lac Lacaille correspondence 1932-1959

CO/Lac/A Caldey Island 1949-1959

CO/Lac/B Miscelleanous 1932-1941


CM/Cla Classification and registration scheme

CM/Not Notebooks 1921-1936

CM/Acc Accessions Registers, main series 1913-1980

CM/Reg Registers, supplementary series

CM/Reg/A British Museum (ethnographical materials)

CM/Reg/B 'C' register 1899-1902

CM/Reg/C Goods received 1913-1917

CM/Reg/D Loans register 1912-1961

CM/Reg/E Presentations 1913-1945

CM/Reg/F Stone implements 1919-1920

CM/Reg/G Burroughs Wellcome & Co 1969-1977

CM/Reg/H Loans by HMM 1969-1979

CM/Reg/J Objects transferred from store

CM/Reg/K Chinese exhibits 1939-1940

CM/Inv Flimsy Inventory Cards

CM/Inv/A Main sequence

CM/Inv/B First Subject Sequence

CM/Inv/C Second Subject Sequence

CM/Env Envoice books 1936-1959

CM/Lis Lists and inventories 1911-1941

CM/Col Collection Dossiers

CM/Pam Paira Mall 1897-1921

CM/Pam/A Diaries

CM/Pam/B Registers

CM/Pam/C Notebooks

CM/Pam/D Correspondence

CM/Dan EM Dance (Classical Medicine Gallery)1940-1946


FI/Hme Objects purchased for HME 1904-1910

FI/Pur (Special) Purchase Books 1907-1947

FI/Cas Cash Books 1913-1933

FI/Pri Private Purchase Books 1921-1935

FI/Led Ledgers

FI/Pet Petty cash books 1913-1933

FI/Ban Bankbooks 1906-1927


TR/Inv Inventory cards

TR/Inv/A 1936-1977

TR/Inv/A.1 Birmingham - ethnography

TR/Inv/A.2 Burroughs Wellcome

TR/Inv/A.3 Museum of Mankind

TR/Inv/A.4 Merseyside

TR/Inv/A.5 UCL


TR/Inv/A.7 Egyptology

TR/Inv/A.8 Miscellaneous

TR/Inv/B 1978-1983

TR/Inv/B.1 'B' Material

TR/Inv/B.2 'C' Material

TR/Pre Pre-War dispersal 1936-1946

TR/Pre/A. Files

TR/Pre/B. Item lists

TR/Pre/C. Auction catalogues

TR/Eth'Surplus ethnographic material' 1946-1953

TR/Eth/A. 'The Ten Distributions'

TR/Eth/B. 'Residue'

TR/Dis 'Disposals' 1964-1971

TR/Ret 'Retrospective' files

TR/Ret/A. Card Index

TR/Ret/B. British receiving institutions

TR/Ret/C. Receiving institutions abroad

TR/Abc 1978-1983 Disposal

TR/Abc/G. General policy and administration files

TR/Abc/A. 'A' Material

Abc/A.1 Registers

Abc/A.2 Other

TR/Abc/B. 'B' Material

TR/Abc/B.1 'The Wellcome Museum Inventory List "B"'

TR/Abc/B.2 'Typed transfer lists'

TR/Abc/B.3 Files

TR/Abc/C. 'C' Material

TR/Abc/C.1 Gift registers

TR/Abc/C.2 Gift agreements

TR/Abc/C.3 Files (of Eric Freeman)

TR/Abc/C.4 Files (of Richard de Peyer)

TR/Abc/C.5 'Recipients' references


EX/A Joseph Lister 1927

EX/B Henry Hill Hickman

EX/B Cinchonna Tercentennary 1930

EX/D A Century of Progress, Chicago 1933

EX/E Paris International Exhibition 1937

EX/F Minor exhibitions 1947-1962


RE/A Opening ceremony 1913

RE/B Reopening ceremony 1926

RE/C Cornerstone ceremony 1931

RE/D Other receptions 1922-1932


VI/A HMM/HME 1913-1957

VI/B Library 1950-1964


LI/Bks Booksellers correspondence 1905-1922

LI/Cla Classificaton scheme 1913-1932

LI/Rep Reports and classifications

LI/Pur Purchase lists 1928-1932

LI/Odd Other materials 1946-1959


PB/Han Handbooks and guides 1903-1965

PB/Res Research Studies in Medical History

PB/Res/A. Published volumes

PB/Res/B. Drafts and correspondence

PB/Sta Staff Reprints

PB/Sta/A. Thompson

PB/Sta/B. Lacaille

PB/Sam Printing samples


ST/Ear Early series 1904-1923

ST/Ear/A. Alphabetical series

ST/Ear/B. General

ST/Lat Later series 1909-1961

ST/Ear/A. Alphabetical series

ST/Lat/B. General


CT/A Papers and correspondence

CT/B Notes and unpublished writings

CT/C Publications


Conditions governing access:

The papers are subject to Restricted Access and a special application form should be completed in addition to the standard Readers' 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:

Accession records (WA/HMM/CM) and transfer records (WA/HMM/TR) are not catalogued to object level. For guidance on how to locate the records relating to a specific object or collection, see the leaflet Museum objects: accession and transfer records.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Wellcome Historical Medical Museum

Allied Materials

Related material:

From the 1930s to the 1970s, some materials were removed from this archive to be held by the Western Manuscripts Department of the Library (now part of the unified Archives and Manuscripts Department), where they are listed in the main manuscripts series (they all carry numbers between MS.8000 and MS.9000, but do not comprise every manuscript item in this range). At the time of cataloguing the WHMM archive, some material was returned from the Western Manuscripts series, but much remains, chiefly to do with research activities of staff. Cross references are given where appropriate in the catalogue.

Correspondence files relating to the work of the artist Langdon Kihn are held by the Iconographic Department, and it may be that other current Library departments hold further files relating to the books, manuscripts or iconographic materials in their care.

Photographs of the WHMM premises, exhibitions and objects may be found in WA/PHO/Hmm.

The personal papers of Henry Solomon Wellcome (WA/HSW) contain materials relating to the work of the WHMM including photographs and correspondence.

A comprehensive examination of Wellcome's vision is given in Ghislaine M Skinner, 'Sir Henry Wellcome's museum for the science of history', Medical History, vol 30, no 4, Oct 1986.

For a history of the WHMM development and dispersal see John Symons, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. A Short History, The Wellcome Trust, 1993.

A useful summary of the accession and transfer of objects is Georgina Russell et al 'The Wellcome Non-medical Material', in Museums Journal, vol 86, Supplement 1986.

See also A R Hall and B A Bembridge, Physic and Philanthropy. A History of the Wellcome Trust 1936-1986, CUP, 1986; R Rhodes James, Henry Wellcome Hodder and Stoughton, 1994.

See also Harrowby Manuscripts Trust, Sandon Hall: papers of Captain Johnston-Saint.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Anya Turner.

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:
June 2008

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