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About this work


These records relate to the transfer and disposal of the HMM collections. Rationalisation of the collections began soon after HSW's death in 1936 by instruction of the Wellcome Trustees, culminating in total dispersal by 1985. Although the bulk of the collection was transferred to other museums, notably the British Museum and the Science Museum, a great deal was also disposed of via auction houses and dealers..

It is a complex body of records, reflecting the different stages of the dispersal of the collections. In the 1980s an attempt was made to collate information about the earlier transfers of collections [1936-1977], and the resulting files are arranged by name of receiving institution [TR/Ret]. These files are supplemented by series of inventory cards 1936-1977, arranged by institution, type of material and accession number [TR/Inv]. The files and cards together act as points of entry into other series of transfer records.

The main body of records falls into series reflecting the different, distinct periods of transfer activity: 'Pre-War dispersals' 1936-1946 [TR/Pre], ethnographical materials 1943-1956 [TR/Eth] and final disposals 1978-1983 [TR/Abc]. The amount of detail recorded varies: with the pre-war dispersals often having only scanty information recorded. It was only during the final dispersals that systematic record practices were established.

For a detailed and useful account of the transfer of the collections from 1936 to 1985, and the ensuing records, see Georgina Russell, "The Wellcome Historical Medical Museum's Dispersal of Non-medical Material", Museums Journal, vol. 86, supplement 1986. The article includes appendices of receiving institutions, auction sales and subject or collection listings.

For guidance on how to locate records relating to the transfer of a specific object, collection or type of material, see Notes field below "Museum objects: accession and transfer records"



Physical description

54 boxes

Acquisition note


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