Parkes Weber, Frederick (1863-1962)
- Weber, F. Parkes (Frederick Parkes), 1863-1962.
- Archives and manuscripts
Where to find it
About this work
These papers consist of case notes from Parkes Weber's Harley Street and German Hospital practices, some very fine annotated clinical photographs, and (the bulk of the collection) a large number of volumes and bundles dealing with a vast array of diseases and medical conditions, usually accreted around an original paper by Parkes Weber himself. He described how these 'small collections and bundles around kernels of my earliest writings on the subject' evolved in a letter to the Librarian, Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, 27 Feb 1958:
"I was in the habit of surrounding my own writings with manuscript and printed correspondence, and all kinds of cuttings and small articles bearing on the subject. Many interesting autograph letters and small essays have in this way become buried and practically altogether lost."
These had become 'gradually very extensive, and many of them have become dislocated and unmanageable'. On examination they have been found to include reprints and cuttings of articles, case notes, notes and annotations, correspondence, and photographs. There is also material on more general philosophical questions, and relating to his book Aspects of Death and other publications, and a little personalia and correspondence. Diaries apparently received with the papers were returned to Parkes Weber late in 1958 to assist in the preparation of the notes published as Miscellaneous Notes (see PP/FPW/D.11) and seem never to have been returned to the Wellcome Library (Parkes Weber to Dr Poynter, Wellcome Historical Medical Library, 24 Dec 1958 and 11 Feb 1959).
This is a collection of major importance for the medical historian. Parkes Weber had a very active life during a period of unprecedented developments in medicine. He produced well over 1000 articles, and was particularly interested in rare diseases and conditions: conditions with which he is eponymously associated are Rendu-Osler-Weber disease (familial telangiectasis), Weber's diseases (localised epidermolysis bullosa), Weber-Klippel syndrome (haemangiectatic hypertrophy of limbs), Weber-Christian disease (relapsing febrile nodular non-suppurative panniculitis) and Sturge-Weber-Kalischer disease (angioma of brain revealed by radiography). His papers also include much on more common ailments and phenomena, on balneological and climatological treatment, healthy life-style and the promotion of longevity, social medicine, etc. His associates and colleagues included many of the great names in medicine of his day.
The collection is divided into sections as follows:
A. Case notes and related material
B. Subject collections (medical)
C. Non-medical subject collections
D. Aspects of Death and other writings
E. Personalia and correspondence
Frederick Parkes Weber (1863-1962): career outline
1863 May 8 born in London, son of Sir Hermann Weber MD FRCP and his wife Matilda
1874-1877 attends Temple Grove School, East Sheen
1877-1881 educated at Charterhouse School
1882 enters Trinity College Cambridge
1886 BA (Cantab)
Medical education at St Bartholomew's
1889 MB BCh (Cantab)
1892 MD (Cantab)
1891 Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
1894 Appointed Physician at the German Hospital, Dalston
Becomes member of Pathological Society of London
1899-1911 Physician to Mount Vernon Hospital for Diseases of the Chest
1910 First edition of Aspects of Death and correlated aspects of life in art, epigram and poetry
1921 First Mitchell Lecturer, RCP
Marries Dr Hedwig Unger-Laissle
1933 Fourth edition of Aspects of Death
1930 Awarded the Moxon Gold Medal of the RCP for 'distinguished observation and research in clinical medicine'
1935 Some thoughts of a doctor
1938-1947 More thoughts of a doctor
1958 Gives his papers to the Wellcome Historical Medical Library
Elected to the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Society of Medicine
1959 Gives £5000 to the Royal College of Physicians to promote advance in dermatology
1962 Jun 2 dies aged 99
There are obituaries in the British Medical Journal, 1962, i, 1630-1, and The Lancet, 1962, i, 1308-9, and an entry in Munk's Roll of Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians. Frederick Parkes Weber's collected writings in celebration of his 80th birthday and 50th anniversary as physician to the German Hospital London, edited by the Medical Staff, 1943, is held in the Wellcome Library and includes a complete bibliography of his publications to that date (update to 1958 in PP/FPW/D.10), a list of the societies and organisations of which he was a member, and tributes from colleagues.
The collection presented considerable problems of arrangement and cataloguing. Parkes Weber himself admitted at the time of the transfer of the papers that 'sometimes there is a good deal of disorder' (letter to Dr Poynter, 9 Apr 1958) and subsequent to their receipt they underwent various moves, including out to the Library's Enfield store and back again. Any physical organisation had long since vanished by the time sorting began, while the large size of the collection made rearrangement a massive task. There were also difficulties in establishing a sound intellectual grasp on the collection. It is clear that in the earlier years of his career Parkes Weber arranged the binding up of accumulated papers on a particular topic, but later papers were gathered together in bundles stuffed into manila envelopes, with copious notes concerning the contents written on them at various stages during their life span. The system as a whole began to break down completely in the early 1950s: a number of very thin bundles were found or more than one bundle started on the same topic. Some degree of control was gained by putting information from the hand-written cards compiled at the time of the preliminary investigation of the collection into an Idealist database, which enabled better searching, although production to readers remained a problem. This also made it possible to output a preliminary arrangement in more coherent order. This database formed the basis of the catalogue description here.
Olivia Wendt, of the University of Wisconsin, attending Richmond College, the American International University in London, came to the Wellcome Library as an intern in the autumn of 1998, and made major progress in physically rearranging of the 'bundles' to reflect the intellectual organisation, while removing unbound papers from increasingly tatty envelopes into acid-free folders and archive boxes. Conservation or improved storage of overstuffed bound volumes was undertaken. Since then this task has been completed, references have been assigned and the arrangement tightened up. A number of bundles could be reintegrated and in some cases minor bundles added to earlier fuller ones. Unfortunately it would appear that some items are still missing, perhaps never received, or lost during the transits of the collection, thus some headings start at 'second series' or one series in a sequence is absent. The investment of time to fulfil Parkes Weber's own hope that it would be possible to have 'all the contents of each of these packets examined, page after page so as to make them available to students' has not proved practicable, and indeed would have led to the production of a finding aid hardly less bulky than the archive itself. Even with the resources of modern computer databases the task presents a daunting prospect.
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- Complementary Therapies
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- Medical Records