Wellcome Foundation Ltd

  • Wellcome Foundation Ltd
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The archive comprises material from Burroughs Wellcome & Company (BW&Co) and, from 1924, the Wellcome Foundation Ltd (WF).

Notable elements of the archive are:

* Some records of the pre-partnership S M Burroughs Company.

* Papers for the two founders Henry S Wellcome and Silas M Burroughs.

* Papers of senior managers from BW&Co/WF.

* Legal Papers, particularly concerned with Trade Marks and Stamp Duty.

* Marketing records - including operational papers, a large collection of images and of publications.

* Some financial records, mainly regarding salaries.

* Papers relating to WF sites, such as the Wellcome Chemical Works, Dartford.

* The records of Coopers, the subsidiary veterinary company, together with records of Coopers own world-wide subsidiary companies. (See separate entry WF/C)

* Records of related bodies, the British Insulin Manufacturers Association and The Therapeutic Research Corporation

Please note that Board Minutes & Papers, and the Research & Development papers have been retained by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) (formerly GlaxoWellcome (GW)).


There were several sites used by the Wellcome Foundation and by Coopers, McDougall Robertson. The following gives a good indication of sites for which material can be found but is not exhaustive:


* Beckenham - site of the Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories from 1921, 'Langley Court'.

* Berkhamsted - this was the main office and works site for Coopers, McDougall Robertson the veterinary medical supplies company. The Cooper family were prominent in local society and economy and there are many specifically personal and local history items held in the archive.

* 'Brockwell Hall', Herne Hill - site of the Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories from 1897 -c.1921.

* Dartford Chemical Works from 1888- previously 'Phoenix Paper Mills', the site included 'Kepler Wharf'. Nearby was the 'Wellcome Club & Institute'.

* Euston - The Wellcome Building 183 Euston Road, originally 'The Wellcome Research Institution' later called the 'Wellcome Building', from 1932. Also Unicorn House - the Head Office of the Wellcome Foundation from 1990.

* Frant - the Veterinary Research Station, it consisted of Ely Grange & manor House, with several farms. The most well-known farm was 'Tyburn Farm' where 'Code Name Operation Tyburn' (research into Scrub Typhus) took place during WW2.

* Snow Hill - the Head Office site near Holborn Viaduct. Various offices were used from 1879 when Burroughs arrived in London, however the company settled in one set of offices until they were bombed in WW2.

* Wandsworth - 'Bell Lane Wharf' the site of the first factory from 1883.


Both Wellcome and Coopers were international companies from very early in their histories with offices and sales agents across the globe.

The circa dates given are from the establishment of subsidiary companies, though both companies had dealings in the countries from before these dates. So although Ireland and Spain only gained subsidiary companies late in Wellcome's history, these countries had been targeted from the 1880s. Some of the cities where the main offices were based are also indicated:

* Africa - Egypt, Ghana, Kabete, Kenya (1955), Nairobi, Nigeria, South Africa (1902 - East London, Johannesburg), Tanzania (1974), Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

* America - Argentina (1910), Brazil (1955), Canada (c1906), Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico (1967), USA (1906 - New York; Greenville; Tuckahoe; Research Triangle Park),

* Asia - Arabian Gulf (1977), Ceylon (1976), China , Hong Kong (1972), India (1912), Indonesia, Iran (1973), Japan (1971), Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia (1968), Nepal, Pakistan (1956), Philippines (1968), Saudi Arabia, Shanghai (1908), Singapore (1968), Syria, Taiwan, Thailand (1972),

* Australasia - Australia (1886 - Sydney), New Zealand (1954)

* Europe - Austria (1972), Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, Germany (1967), Greece, Holland (1967), Hungary, Ireland (1972 - Dublin), Italy (Milan 1905), Malta, Monaco (1964), Norway, Portugal (1973), Russia, Spain (1966), Sweden, Switzerland (1978), Turkey

* In addition Wellcome's work on the Wellcome Research Laboratories (later the Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories) at Gordon College, Khartoum in the Sudan are also well documented - particularly in Wellcome's correspondence (see WF/E/01).


Coopers had a strong connection with countries that had large sheep or cattle herds (hence little connection with Asia). Those with no dates in brackets were formed as companies pre 1960:

* Africa - Kenya, Rhodesia, South Africa, Uganda (1971), Zambia (1969)

* America - Argentina, Paraguay (1969), Peru (1965), Uruguay, USA, Venezuela (1965)

* Australasia - Australia, New Zealand

* Europe - Belgium, France, Italy, Ireland, Spain



Physical description

350 linear metres 2010 boxes, 900 plans, 266 certificates, 341 guard books, 135 items, 6433 images, 57 rolls of film, 731 av tapes, 42 volumes, 1 digital item; 1 file 40.6 MB (42587660 bytes) Uncatalogued: 62 boxes, 51 guard boxes, 2 volumes, 1 tablet-making machine

Acquisition note

Primarily acquired from Glaxo Smith Kline by deposit in 2001.

Related material


London University: School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine holds lectures, speeches, MSS rel to tropical medicine, research notes, corresp and papers rel to his role as Director of the School, 1907-46 (Reference: Andrew Balfour Papers) Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections holds letters rel to the Sudan, 1903, 1924 (Reference : BALFOUR A); also corresp with Sir Reginald Wingate, 1903-13 (Reference : Wingate papers)

Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine holds MS bibliography of current work in tropical medicine, c1902-1930 (Reference : MSS 7046-56), also Papers submitted to the Journal of Tropical Medicine (Reference MS.6937) which contains 3 articles by Balfour; also the Wellcome Archive contains several sources for Balfour, notably the records of the Wellcome Bureau of Scientific Research of which AB was Drirector. The BSR Archive includes a series called 'Balfour's Papers' (Reference WA/BSR/BA), Corresp between HSW/AB is also found in the WA collection (e.g. Reference: WA/HMM/CO/Ear/42);


Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine also holds papers, inc. letter books (Reference : PP/SMB) whilst the Wellcome Archive holds a number of addiitonal items (Reference WA).


The main collection of Henry Hallett Dale's Personal Papers are held by the Royal Society Archive (Reference : HD)

Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine (Reference PP/HHD) holds 1 box of Dale papers, including Experimental Notebooks; also (Reference : PP/LEW) corresp with Sir Thomas Lewis (1921-42 ); also GC/67 Copy documents collected by Sir Henry Dale c.1959 relating to the controversy over the responsibility for the discovery of insulin in Toronto in 1922; additonal corresp with Dale can be located in the WL Archive Collections, notably corespondence with HSW in the WA Collection, but also elsewhere with other scientists. There are also copies of articles by Dale both in the Library collection and Archives & Manuscripts.

The Royal Institution of Great Britain holds corresp and papers, 1942-65 (Reference : Henry Hallett Dale Collection), also a portrait of Sir Henry Hallett Dale

The National Archives: National Archives holds papers relating to the Scientific Advisory Committee 1940-48 (Reference : CAB127/213-38)

Cambridge University: Churchill Archives Centre holds corresp with AV Hill, 1929-68 (Reference : AVHL)

Glasgow University Archive Services holds corresp with Edward Hindle 1925-28 (Reference : DC/75)

Rice University: Woodson Research Center holds corresp with Julian Huxley 1923-65 (Reference : Julian S Huxley papers)

Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts holds corresp rel to Society for Protection of Science and Learning 1933-68 (Reference : SPSL)

Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives holds corresp with Sir Frank Young 1935-75.

FB POWER: A small collection of manuscripts by or about Power, including some of his correspondence and a typescript biographical memoir by his daughter, is housed in the Kremers Reference Files of the F B Power Pharmaceutical Library at the University of Wisconsin - Madison [source: John Parascandola, 2003]


HSW correspondence to Stanley as at 2003 are held at the Royal Geographic Society as the 'Stanley Archive'. (also HSW corresp with William Hoffman)


Wingate was Governor-General of the Sudan and Sirdar of the Egyptian Army from 1899 to 1916.

The main collection of papers is at Durham University Library: Archives and Special Collections (Reference: Wingate papers)

Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine holds corresp in WA/HSW/CO/Ind/A.14 There are letters between HSW and FRW re Balfour, the Gordon College Khartoum and the Sudan.


MSS.8185-8186, 8188-8189, 8303-8307, 8321, 8524-8525, 8539, 14 volumes, 2 bundles.

Miscellaneous historical essays, written by individuals employed by or associated with the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum.


MS.8071 Liber de Corporis Humani Fabrica c1921

Tracings of the five anatomical drawings and the inserted drawing of sick lady from `Liber de corporis humani fabrici cum picturis sub hisce capitibus distributus' (Bodleian Library, Ashmolean Collection MS.399.5), c.1291; interleaved with Burroughs Wellcome advertising material using these drawings.


The Oxford University: Griffith Institute holds journals, excavation records (re Abu Geili, Jebel Moya, Saqadi, Dar el-Mek etc), indexes, maps, plans and photographs (Reference : MS.Collections)


The British Library hold original copies of patent applications. Wellcome submitted several such applications.

Leeds Public Library also hold copies and will provide copies for a small fee. - Correct as at 2002.


Records of the Ministry of Labour, are held by the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office), UK. (for schemes such as the National Scheme for the Employment of Disabled Men)


See Coopers Collection description


Related material:

1.5 linear m of records of Glaxo Laboratories Ltd concerning the TRC, 1941-1952, are also held in the Glaxo Wellcome Heritage Archives as part of the Glaxo Group Archive (see GGA 3, GGA 10, GGA 15, GGA 30, GGA 35, GGA 37, GGA 110, GGA 449, and GGA 456).

Associated material:

An unknown quantity of records of May and Baker Ltd (now part of Rhone Poulenc Rorer) concerning the TRC are held by Rhone Poulenc Rorer at Dagenham. 10 bundles (c 2 linear m) of records of The Boots Pure Drug Co Ltd concerning the TRC are held in the Boots Company Archives at Nottingham.


Acc 96/41:1, Acc 98/40:2, Acc 99/10:14, and Acc 99/63: 5-6 among post-1995 accessions to the Glaxo Wellcome Heritage Archives (to be retained by GW).

Original films referred to as the company's 'film library' transferred by the Wellcome Foundation Ltd to the custody of Michael Clark, Wellcome Trust, in 1987-8.


Copies of images, both photrographs and images taken from manuscripts are held in the Wellcome Trust Image Library


large number of BW&Co objects are held at the Science Museum, including medicine cases, bottles, packaging. Also, Wellcome's personal collection of objects on the history of medicine.

Copyright note

Copyright was assigned to the Wellcome Trust for all material created or commissioned by the Wellcome Foundation, its successors and associated companies. The copyright in third party material (ie material not created by WF such as letters and publications from external sources, magazine articles, newspaper cuttings etc) is assumed to remain with the creator or his/her heirs. Where third party material exists, this has been noted at item level.

Terms of use

This collection has been partially catalogued and the catalogued part is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records. Requests to view uncatalogued material are considered on a case by case basis. Please contact collections@wellcomecollection.org for more details.

Appraisal note

Accumulated by the Company Records Centre, The Wellcome Foundation Ltd, Dates of accumulation: c 1987-1989

Accruals note

The following is an interim description of material that has been acquired since this collection was catalogued. This description may change when cataloguing takes place in future:

Acc 1803: 40 boxes received March 2011, consisting of: 409 laboratory notebooks generated by the staff of Burroughs Wellcome & Co, Experimental Department and the Wellcome Chemical Research Laboratories. Containing detailed notes and calculations of chemical processes and experiments carried out on a wide variety of natural and man-made substances (liquid, solid and gas).

Acc 1880: 2 boxes received February 2012 consisting of issues of Wellcome News covering: 1944-1946 and 1957-1995.

13 boxes and 1 volume of slides, microfilm and photographs, mainly relating to Beckenham.

51 Guardbooks. These are extremely fragile and will require extensive conservation before they can be catalogued.

Acc 2633: Burroughs Wellcome broadsheet 'The Progress of Medicine', featuring a design by Cliff Rowe, commissioned by Burroughs Wellcome & Co. as a mural for the London Medical Exhibition, held at the Royal Horticultural Hall, Westminster, November 17th-21st 1947. 1 pamphlet. Received September 2021.

Acc 2688: Records relating to Sir Michael Perrin's role as Chairman of the Wellcome Foundation and various overseas visits, 1950s-1970s. 2 boxes, 1 O/S volume. Received Oct 2022.

Acc 2702: Papers of Dr George Alexander Stewart relating to his work for Burroughs Wellcome, later Wellcome Foundation, at Dartford, Beckenham and Euston Road. Primarily relating to laboratory experiments, in particular around cardiac glycosides, diuretics and hypoglycaemic agents, and quality assurance. Also includes Wellcome ephemera and photographs of Wellcome premises, facilities, and staff. 5 boxes. Donated February 2023.

Acc 2718 : Burroughs Wellcome & Co U-type tablet making machine, 1927.

Acc 2762 : Wellcome Foundation and Coopers Animal Health leaflets and promotional guides (1940s-1980s). 6 files [N.b. This accession and extent includes WT and WA/HMM material also].

Ownership note

The Wellcome Foundation Archive (WFA) has a complex custodial history which is integral to the structure of the Archive and its relationships with material now held outside the Archive.

Even before they were passed to what were then GlaxoWellcome Heritage Archives as a result of the 1995 Glaxo - Wellcome merger, the records that now form the WFA were well travelled, and they have a complex custodial history. For many years, the records remained with Burroughs Wellcome & company (BW&Co.) or The Wellcome Foundation Ltd at various sites, including: Snow Hill - their City of London headquarters; Dartford in Kent - site of their main manufacturing plant from 1889; Beckenham (also in Kent) - site of their British research laboratories from the 1920s; and later in the Euston Road area of Central London. The offices at Snow Hill were destroyed by enemy action in 1941, and exactly which records were lost in the bombing is unknown*. Other records were sent for salvage during the war, something the company was not alone in doing. Loss of records from Dartford has left some noticeable gaps in records relating to, for example, Wellcome himself for some periods. From the 1970s, a number of records were stored at Enfield in Middlesex, for a time. Some were held at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire - principally those relating to Cooper McDougall & Robertson Ltd. Over time, some of the records were brought together at what had become the company's Euston head offices, and the process was accelerated as the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the company in 1980 loomed large. Reminiscences of staff were also collected.

[* See 'Foundation News', Sep 1942: 'Following the visit of Mr Moore and Mr Matthews to the Works Record Store at Dartford for the purpose of surveying old account books, journals, sales record sheets, etc. a considerable amount of paper has been released for salvage. By the end of April alone we had sold approximately 13.5 tons of paper which was disposed of for £70!']

In 1980, Gilbert Macdonald's company history In Pursuit of Excellence: One Hundred Years, Wellcome 1880-1980 was published, to coincide with the centenary. Macdonald, retained by the firm as Company Historian after the publication of his work, inherited the records and reminiscences that had been gathered at Euston. He may also have inherited a 'historic collection' of items from predecessors in the marketing and publicity departments.

Combined, the records amounted to a good deal of material. A couple of years after In Pursuit of Excellence was published, a jubilee history of the Wellcome Trust (it would be 50 years old in 1986) was commissioned from Prof. A R Hall, and this led to further activity. An archivist was appointed to sort out the archives belonging to what had become the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine (WIHM), and was also to acquire any material more personal to Wellcome himself from the items in Macdonald's care. All these records formed part of what has now been named the 'Wellcome Archive' (WA). Fully catalogued and available for research in the Wellcome Library, the WA collection was accumulated over time, from the 1930s to 1997, from a variety of different sources, and not always as a result of a conscious effort to gather it together. It now primarily comprises personal papers of Henry Wellcome, the records of his Historical Medical Museum, and records from some of Wellcome's other creations, such as the Wellcome Bureau of Scientific Research (though there are also many items related to this in the WFA, and the laboratories of the Bureau had strong commercial ties to the company). The WFA is now comprised mostly of the business records of Wellcome and his companies. Silas Burroughs' personal papers were not part of the collection, and were acquired separately by the Library in 1998, although numerous items relating to him have crept into the WFA. Macdonald was to advise on any donation of records to what became the WA, but he died before the project could be started. In the end, nothing strictly of relevance to the WIHM was found in Macdonald's set of material, and the archivist appointed to deal with the WIHM material took up a post as the Wellcome Foundation's first company archivist.

Further accessions of material were acquired by the Wellcome Foundation archivist, and the company's Records Centre at their headquarters (established to concentrate on modern materials), and the WFA grew. In 1990, the Wellcome Foundation Ltd moved out of 183 Euston Road to 160 Euston Road and at this time some of the records were divided between the two organisations.

Archivists working on the WFA included Rosemary Milligan, Mary Williamson, John Davies, Sarah Westwood and Claire Jackson. The WFA was moved to the Berkhamsted site, and when the site was sold the collection was temporarily moved to commercial storage. The collection then moved to Greenford, following the 1995 merger, where Sarah Flynn worked on it for a time.

GlaxoWellcome and SmithKlineBeecham merged in 2000, and in 2001 an agreement between GSK and the Wellcome Trust saw the return of much of the WF Archive to the Wellcome Library, run by the Trust. Instrumental in this deposit were Sir Richard Sykes (CEO, GlaxoWellcome) and Roger Gibbs (Chairman, The Wellcome Trust).

Additionally, in 1989 a small Museum was established at the Dartford site for it's centenary, illustrating the company's and site's history. Items were borrowed from both the WIHM and the WFA along with historic objects held by the company. The Museum was dismantled c. 2002 and put into storage by what was by then GSK. Some of the archive items were handed to the Wellcome Library in 2003.

Since the deposit of the WFA to the Wellcome Library in 2001, there have been a few further small accessions to the WFA.


The WFA should be looked at alongside the WA, the collection of Wellcome material mentioned earlier. Because of the way in which they were assembled, the division between the WA and the WFA is blurred and there are many anomalies between the two. The clearest example of this overlap is the correspondence. Henry Wellcome's personal and business letter books are with the WFA - these are copies of letters made by the sender in a volume. Replies received are held in the WA, in bundles of correspondence arranged by the surname of the correspondent. To ensure that both sides of the correspondence are examined, both collections must be consulted. At present, as has been suggested, some of the Wellcome institutions, such as the Wellcome Bureau of Scientific Research, the Wellcome Chemical Research Laboratories, and the Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories, have records in both the WA and the WFA.

The WA can illuminate parts of Henry Wellcome's life that the WFA cannot. It can also prove a boon for those interested in the non-business institutions he started, in particular his Historical Medical Museum. One set of correspondence, pertaining to Sir Henry Morton Stanley, was removed at an early date (1936) by the trustees of Wellcome's will. These papers were placed in the Royal Geographical Society where they are held as the 'Stanley Archive'. They are, in fact, Wellcome's copies of correspondence with and about Stanley.

The way in which objects relating to The Wellcome Foundation Ltd have been scattered causes further confusion. The company held a collection of objects for marketing purposes as well as for historical interest. These included bottles, and medical equipment, especially medicine chests used by famous adventurers or explorers, and returned to the firm when whatever the expedition was had been completed. At some stage, many of these were transferred to what became known as the Museum of the WIHM, and as such most were deposited on indefinite loan in the Science Museum, where they are now held as part of the Wellcome Collection. However, selected items remained with Gilbert Macdonald and, subsequently, with the Wellcome Foundation Archive. These included a few company signs, and some examples of products. Some objects remained with the company as they were still in use, mainly dating from the more recent period of the company's history. As a result of all this, objects relating to The Wellcome Foundation Ltd and its predecessors may be in the WFA, at the Science Museum, still with GSK, or elsewhere. Some of the objects held by the Science Museum overlap with marketing records in the WFA. In particular, product information, such as price lists, give descriptions and dates for the medicine chests and medicines the Science Museum holds. In the WFA there are also more specific instructions regarding individual products.


Room 1/10

As part of Rosemary Milligan's work in the 1980's, material identified in Gilbert Macdonald's Office (183 Euston Road, Room 1/10) was given this location as a reference. She also assigned an alpha-numeric reference as she inventoried items, such as E4 or A1. This was purely a location indicator for the records which themselves remained in situ. These references have been cited in some academic publications. Where possible these numbers have been given in the current catalogue's PreviousNumbers field. As with the records in the wider archive, the records in 1/10 had been used over a period of many years without their original order being recognised or preserved. When records were boxed up in order to be moved from Room 1/10, it is understood that they were given the 'Acc82/1 Box00' reference. Again this has been given in the current catalogue's PreviousNumbers field, where known. After the material had been accessioned some records were withdrawn and deposited with the WIHM.

The box reference BH which sometimes appears in the current catalogue's PreviousNumbers field relates to this period when some of the boxes were store in Bentley House.

The box reference WGA is an abbreviation for 'Wellcome Group Archive', and dates from the time when boxes in the company archive were numbered up sequentially for the move to Glaxo. At Glaxo, there are also boxes labelled GGA ('Glaxo Group Archive') which were so designated at the same time.

Wellcome Foundation Business Archives Unit

This unit was formed when Rosemary Milligan was appointed to a permanent post as the Wellcome Foundation company archivist. An Accession Register was established and new accessions were given an 'Acc Number' comprising the year, the batch and the box number - e.g. Acc85/17/16. Where possible, these references have been retained in the current catalogue's PreviousNumbers field. This body remained responsible for the collection in one form or another until 1995, and did give other reference numbers to accessioned items over time - see below for more.


Where possible previous reference numbers have been entered in the current catalogue's PreviousNumbers field. With the most common references, standardisation has been used as described below to make use easier. The first number given is, where possible, the old 'Acc' or Accession number. This is given with no spaces, for example 'Acc82/1'. Often a longer reference was used such as Acc83/3:28 This has usually been transcribed as Acc83/3/28. If there are any difficulties in finding a particular item, a search for a small part of the reference (in this case simply 'Acc83', for example) may result in success.

Another reference used was the 'WGA' box number. Again, these have been given in the current catalogue with no spaces, 'WGA236'. Where the number is less than three digits they have been 'padded' with noughts so that they can be sorted into box order by computer searchers, so 'WGA006' is used.

Much of the published material in the WFA was given 'PB' numbers which have been transcribed thus: 'PB066'. Again, a padding nought has been used if the number was less than three digits originally.

Occasionally an alpha numeric reference was given, such as S/G/146/4 or B6. These are infrequent and, have been transcribed as they had been originally written.

Custodial History by Teresa Doherty and Adrian Steel. We gratefully acknowledge help from Julia Sheppard, John Davies, Rosemary Hayes-Milligan and John Symons.

Permanent link


Accession number

  • 1148
  • 1149
  • 1150
  • 1151
  • 1152
  • 1160
  • 1161
  • 1183
  • 1191
  • 1195
  • 1223
  • 1269
  • 1343
  • 1353
  • 1355
  • 1369
  • 1380
  • 1381
  • 1413
  • 1451
  • 1594
  • 1610
  • 1614
  • 1624
  • 1654
  • 1717
  • 1803
  • 1840
  • 1880
  • 2633
  • 2688
  • 2702
  • 2718
  • 2762