Wellcome Foundation Publications

Part of:
Wellcome Foundation Ltd
  • Archives and manuscripts

Collection contents

About this work


The Wellcome Foundation's marketing strategy included the production of a wide range of literature for staff, clients (i.e. medics), consumers and other interested parties. Some publications - such as the 'Price Lists' and Therapeuticas - fulfilled an obvious operational need.

However, Wellcome also gave out 'free' items to the medical profession in order to keep the company name in wide circulation. Of these the best known are the company diaries, which were created specifically for and given to a wide audience of medical practitioners - doctors, chemists, nurses, army medics, both at home and overseas. Additional publications included brochures handed out at conferences to delegates (which sometimes took the form of guidebook) but also items such as calendars which could be displayed on walls in offices or waiting rooms.

There are additional company related items, such as annual reports and accounts, and brochures handed out in the lead up to the share flotations. There are also publications given to staff in the operation of the company - such as sales manuals or site handbooks. OVERVIEW:


Series of newsletters and journals produced for company-wide distribution, offering an overview of all of the Wellcome company's operations during this period.
Including: Foundation News (1942-1986); Wellcome Journal (1987-1991) and Wellcome World (1992-1995)


These were produced from very early on in the company's history and soon proved to be a success. Initially produced by Letts for the company the later editions were produced in-house at Dartford. A gusset pocket was built into the front cover of the diaries to hold price lists and other small items of promotional literature. Often there was a pencil included, although few have survived.

Editions. The diaries were available in various formats: "6" refers to 2 days per page; week to a page; month to 2 pages; 60 refers to 60 appointment entries per week in the diary section; 180 refers to 180 appointments.

In 1909 symbols indicating particular types of diary first appeared on the spines of diaries:

a ring denotes a monthly diary;

a single zigzag denotes a weekly diary with 60 entries;

a double zigzag denotes a weekly diary with 120 entries (a "double substance" edition).

Selling diaries: The assumption that diaries were always free to customers must be questioned. The early 'Letts' diaries are a case in point. In 1894, an order form in the diary offered users a chance to order the 1895 diary from a range of five types plus two perpetual diaries. Prices ranged from 2s. 6d. to 5s. with the option to have the name stamped in gold for 6d. extra. It appears that the diaries became free only when produced in-house.

There are around 450 diaries surviving. The diaries tended to follow the same format as outlined in the home edition. From 1890-1891 the diaries were printed by Charles Letts & Co., 3 Royal Exchange, London, this was noted in the title page. From 1892 the diaries where published annually, jointly by Charles Letts & Co., 3, Royal Exchange, London, and Burroughs Wellcome & Co., which included a chapter on Index of Remedies and Posological Table. The ABC Materia Medica was published separately in the same size as in the ABC Medical Diary and Visiting List for 1891. From 1897 the diaries were printed by Burroughs Wellcome & Co at their Dartford printing press. The 1890 "Charles Letts & Co.'s. ABC Medical Diary & Visiting List with which is combined the ABC Materia Medica" contained the following format: Postal Information including inland letter rates, newspaper rates, book post rates, money order rates, telegram rates etc. Useful Memoranda included legal tender, fire insurance, registration of births, deaths, marriages and wills. Fees in special cases such as accidents on the Public Way etc., Obstetrical table, Average frequency of the Pulse, Chemical relations of Morbid Urine where also included. "The pocket ABC Materia Medica and modern pharmacopoeia contain a list of modern drugs and improved dietetic agents with their action and uses; directions for the preparation of Invalid and Infant Foods, Hypodermic Injections, Tinctures, Infusions, etc.; with tables and other matters of interest to Physicians and Surgeons." Memoranda, Diary, a week to a page, Tables for patients visits, Cash Account, Obstetric Engagements, Vaccination Engagements, Engagements under the Factory Act, Accounts asked for or sent, Nurses Addresses, Patients Addresses, Memorandum of Wants, Memorandum of Loans, Memoranda. This format was amended as the diaries progressed in years. Some additions and observations have been noted below.

1893 ABC Medical Diary and Visiting List combined with the Excerpta Therapeutica are arranged alphabetically, in a condensed form, and list the therapeutics of all drugs in general use, both Pharmacopoeial and Extra Pharmacopoeial. The 1897 diary was published by Wellcome and re titled "Wellcome's Medical Diary and Visiting List combined with the Excerpta Therapeutica." The 1901 diary includes Information for India, including postal and Indian stamp duties and Legal Information. Published by Burroughs Wellcome & Co. London & Sydney. 1902 edition includes the use of colour in the printing of advertisements and use of photomechanical printing of images. In 1903 'Wellcome' brand chemicals are listed. The 1908 diary includes prices list for medicine including medicine cases and chests and a pamphlet -'Illustrations of Medicine Chests and cases- supplement to Wellcome's Medical Diary' (2 copies). 1910 includes pamphlet, 'Illustrations of 'Tabloid' brand Medicine chests and cases' printed in colour. 1911 Chapter on Wellcome Materia Medica Farm with colour and black and white photomechanical prints.

The 1918 War Emergency Edition notes that 'Owing to the restrictions of printing facilities, it has been necessary to prepare and print this publication early in 1917. The conditions of production have also necessitated the omission of certain sections of the book.' And again the 1919 War Emergency Edition has been confined 'Owing to the restrictions of printing facilities, it has been necessary to prepare and print this publication early in 1918. Further, to assist the Paper Controller and to conserve tonnage, the therapeutic notes and certain other sections have been omitted, and the Edition with the diary portion ruled for 120 patients has been temporarily suspended. Once more, the 1941 War Emergency Edition was modified to conserve paper. The diary section has been left unaltered however; the therapeutic notes section was reduced in scope and modified. Therapeutic index condensed and re-arranged. In 1942 a new section dealing with gases, smokes and liquids used in gas warfare was produced.

Themed editions: Between 1906 and 1940 each diary was themed, often using a mythological god of healing and containing information regarding the deity.

The diaries were produced for specific users, hence:

The Chemists' Diaries, which after 1910 became Pharmacist's Diary, contained Therapeutic notes on various Wellcome products, a limited amount of information on their properties, uses and dose, Vaccine therapy, poisoning symptoms and treatment, posological table- imperial and metric system, system of weights and measures, outline of milk analysis, water and urine analysis, 'Soloid' microscopic stains, legal information, average weights and heights, solubility of chemicals in frequent use, boiling and melting, molecular weights and volumetric equivalents of BP chemicals, incompatibles points of medicinal substances.

The Nurse's Diary edition included the general principles of nursing such as sanitation, ventilation, cleanliness, medical equipment, surgery, first aid in emergencies, poisons and their antidotes, an alphabetical list of 'tabloid' nursing requisites, foods and dietary, legal information and general rules of quarantine.

Special editions also changed the format of the diaries - most notably the Emergency War Edition which was edited, 'Owing to the restrictions of printing facilities, it has been necessary to prepare and print this publication early in 1917. The conditions of production have also necessitated the omission of certain sections of the book.'

To assist in the identification of the various types of diary after 1910 letters were sometimes blind stamped/embossed on the spine for example 'AC' represented the Australasian edition; 'In' represented the Indian edition, 'Ch' represented the Chinese edition, 'ME' represented the Middle East and 'SAf' represented the South African edition. Such diaries often included information specific to the country such as postal information. Price lists also tended (but not always) to be specific to the countries concerned.


The Price List series contains examples of Wellcome's published price lists dating from 1881 to 1983. Price Lists were product catalogues, giving an indication of the range of products sold by the company, with different formats and dosages indicated. They were often highly visual, with 'advertisements' placed at the beginning and end of the pamphlet which broke up the primarily textual format.

The series has been arranged to reflect the development of the lists, showing the expansion from home to overseas markets and the development into specialist areas such as veterinary medicine and biotechnology. Special features have generally been noted as part of individual entries or in footnotes. The Price List series ends with a small number of very early lists from companies for which Burroughs, Wellcome & Co acted as agents.

The list has been structured in the following sections:

UNITED KINGDOM (WF/M/PB/32/01-11): General; Hospital; Retail; Wholesale; Retail and Wholesale; Wellcome Biological; Wellcome Industrial; Wellcome Reagents; Wellcome Consumer Division; Calmic Medical Division; Miscellaneous; [* asterisked items in catalogue relate to The Thompson Capper Case 1903]

UK EXPORT EDITIONS (WF/M/PB/32/12-14): General; Laboratory Diagnostic Reagents and Materials [This series of Price Lists was colour coded as follows: brown covers - Freight On Board prices green covers - interleaved with FOB prices mauve covers - without FOB prices.]; Wellcome Biologicals

OVERSEAS (A-Z by country, WF/M/PB/32/15-39): South Africa [The 1952 and 1954 Price Lists were colour coded as follows: brown covers - wholesale and retail prices blue covers - retail prices.]


PRODUCT LISTS (UNITED KINGDOM: Export; Fine Chemicals; Fine Products; Others; OVERSEAS) - WF/M/PB/33

The rest of the Publications sequence, (WF/M/PB/34 - WF/M/PB/49) has been ordered into the following categories:

Product Publications (WF/M/PB/34)

Publications concerning the Wellcome Foundation (WF/M/PB/35)

Dartford (WF/M/PB/36)

Crewe (WF/M/PB/37)

Overseas (WF/M/PB/38)

Flotation & Wellcome plc (WF/M/PB/39)

Laboratories (WF/M/PB/40)

Wellcome Veterinary Publications (WF/M/PB/41)

Conferences (WF/M/PB/42)

Wellcome staff publications and articles (WF/M/PB/43

Stakeholders and Community Groups (WF/M/PB/44)

Proposed Wellcome buildings (WF/M/PB/45)

Wellcome Film Library (WF/M/PB/46)

Henry Wellcome related publications (WF/M/PB/47)

Wellcome Centenary (WF/M/PB/48)

Internal Wellcome Publications (WF/M/PB/49)

Many of the items included in these sections originated from the library in the Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham.



Physical description

125 boxes

Related material

At Wellcome Collection: various personal archives contain 'used' WF diaries.

Finding aids

Generally good. Fragile glass items (slides and negatives) are indicated within this list. There are warning notices on their boxes.

Appraisal note

Criteria for retention of diaries based on use of diaries by physicians, clean proof copies, and oddities.

Ownership note

Please see main WF collection description (ref. 'WF').

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