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Boag, John (Jack) Wilson

  • Boag, John Wilson (1911-2007), medical physicist
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


This collection provides only a very patchy representation of Boag's career and contribution to the field of radiation research. In addition to a set of reprints, it includes research notebooks from only two phases of Boag's career: early work at the Radiotherapeutic Research Unit, Hammersmith Hospital, 1948-1952 and later research at the Institute of Cancer Research and in retirement, 1970s-1990s. Also included is some material relating to lectures and papers Boag gave during the 1990s on the history of x-rays and radiation dosimetry. The collection does not include any material relating to Boag's work as a peace campaigner.



Physical description

8 boxes


These papers are arranged in three sections as follows:

A. Scientific research and experimental notebooks

B. Historical research

C. Published and unpublished writings

Acquisition note

These papers were donated to the Wellcome Library in March 2011 by G. Gordon Steel.

Biographical note

Boag trained as an electrical engineer at the University of Glasgow and with the firm British Thomson-Houston. During the 1930s he undertook PhD research in Cambridge and Germany. From 1942 Boag worked at the newly-established MRC Radiotherapeutic Research Unit at Hammersmith Hospital where he was involved in designing and building a pioneering 2 MeV Van de Graaff electron accelerator. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, whilst at the hospital, he went on to pursue his interest in clinical radiotherapy and radiation dosimetry. From 1955, after a spell in the United States, Boag continued his career at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, where he worked with Joseph Rotblat. In 1958 the British Empire Cancer Campaign established a radiobiology research unit at Mount Vernon Hospital and here Boag undertook research on radiation in cancer therapy. He was appointed Professor of Physics at the Institute of Cancer Research in 1964, continuing his research and developing a new interest in xeroradiography. Boag retired in 1976 but continued his engagement with scientific subjects, pursued some historical work on the history of x-rays and radiation dosimetry, and also became heavily involved with the Pugwash movement, campaigning against weapons of mass destruction.

Further biographical information may be found in obituaries that appeared in The Guardian, 26 Mar 2007 and The Times, 17 Jan 2007.

Ownership note

These papers were originally located at Boag's home. From there they were removed to the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, Bath, and then to the Centre for Science Achives @ The Science Museum from where they were transferred to the Wellcome Library.

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