Wilson, Sir Graham Selby

  • Wilson, Graham S. (Graham Selby), Sir, 1895-1987
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Although the collection is by no means comprehensive, there are interesting records of many aspects of Wilson's career.

Section A. Biographical: Brings together material relating to obituaries, tributes, honours and awards. Includes Wilson's account of his First World War experiences and his assessment of his scientific publications.

Section B. Research: Although not extensive, provides documentation of a number of Wilson's principal interests including the Salmonella group of bacteria and milk hygiene. There are three laboratory notebooks with experimental data covering the period 1919-45.

Section C. Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS): Relates chiefly to the unpublished history written by Wilson after his retirement as Director of the PHLS. There is also a little material relating to laboratory design and equipment and PHLS personnel.

Section D. Lectures and publications: The most substantial in the collection. There are records of Wilson's lectures for a period of forty years from 1944, extensive documentation of the later editions of Principles of bacteriology and immunity, and editorial correspondence and papers for the British Journal of Experimental Pathology and the Journal of Hygiene.

Section E. Societies and organisations: Documentation of Wilson's association with ten British organisations including the Medical Research Club, Medical Research Council and Veterinary Club. The Medical Research Council material relates to the Working Party on Tristan da Cunha which was set up to supervise medical investigations when the inhabitants were evacuated to Britain after the island's volcano erupted in 1961. There is also material relating to the Research Foundation, Chicago, which specialised in tuberculosis research, on whose medical advisory committee Wilson served.

Section F. Visits and conferences: Records of a number of overseas trips in an advisory capacity for the World Health Organisation, including to Ethiopia 1964, Iraq 1965, Iran, Sudan and Egypt 1971 and the Philippines 1972, and records of international microbiology congresses.

Section G. Correspondence: Although not extensive, includes a chronological sequence of scientific correspondence, 1930-1987, Wilson's collection of autograph letters addressed to Topley and himself, and references and recommendations.

Section H. Photographs: Photographic records of Wilson, colleagues, conferences and PHLS laboratories.

Section J. Biographical History of Bacteriology: Manuscript of Wilson's history, with correspondence about publication.



Physical description

17 boxes


By section as follows:

A. Biographical,

B. Research,

C. Public Health Laboratory Service,

D. Lectures and publications,

E. Societies and organisations,

F. Visits and conferences,

G. Correspondence,

H. Photographs,

J. Biographical History of Bacteriology. Index of correspondents.

Acquisition note

These papers were given to the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre (now Archives and Manuscripts following merger with Western Manuscripts) in August 1989 by Sir Graham Wilson's family (CMAC accession no. 300). Additional material came via the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with the agreement of the family: reprints of Wilson's publications, 1989 (CMAC accession no. 318); manuscript of Wilson’s Biographical History of Bacteriology, 1994 (CMAC accession no. 541).

Biographical note

Wilson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1895. He was educated at King's College, London and Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, London where he undertook his first research at the suggestion of W.W.C. Topley. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, rejoining Topley at Charing Cross in 1920 as Demonstrator in Bacteriology. He moved with Topley, first to Manchester University as Lecturer in 1923, and then to the newly established London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) as Reader in Bacteriology in 1927. In 1930 he was appointed to the Chair of Bacteriology Applied to Hygiene, a post he held until 1947.

Wilson's researches, initially with Topley, encompassed the Salmonella group of bacteria, brucellosis and tuberculosis, milk hygiene and the control of diphtheria. Topley and Wilson established courses for the Diploma of Bacteriology at both Manchester and the LSHTM, and their celebrated text book "Topley & Wilson's Principles of bacteriology and immunity" (first published in 1929) had its origins in these courses. After Topley's death in 1944, Wilson continued to revise the publication with A. A. Miles, reaching a seventh edition in 1984. With the approach of the Second World War, Wilson was involved in the planning of the Emergency Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) and became its Director in 1941. He continued as Director of the peacetime PHLS until his retirement in 1963, when he returned to LSHTM as Honorary Lecturer in Microbiology. He was knighted in 1962 and elected FRS in 1978 (Buchanan Medal 1967). Wilson died in 1987.

Copyright note

Wilson's family retain the copyright of Biographical History of Bateriology.

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.


Acc Nos 300, 318, NCUACS, (amended, SMD, 02/1991; additions, 02/1997)

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Accession number

  • 300
  • 318
  • 541