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Haldane Papers

  • Haldane, J. B. S. (John Burdon Sanderson), 1892-1964
Date
1933-1962
Reference
HALDANE
  • Archives and manuscripts
  • Online

About this work

Description

Papers of John Burdon Sanderson Haldane, comprising scientific research papers, copies of his publications and drafts, correspondence, papers relating to University College London (UCL), papers of various committees and societies and personal papers. Includes correspondence with publishers, scientific correspondence, general correspondence, UCL departmental files, papers from wartime committees including the Air Raid Precautions Committee, papers from other committees and societies including the Medical Research Council and the Royal Society, and personal and family papers also including correspondence.

Publication/Creation

1933-1962

Physical description

65 boxes

Arrangement

The collection has been arranged into six series:
1. Scientific Research
2. Publications and Drafts
3. Papers Relating to UCL
4. Committees and Societies
5. Correspondence
6. Personal and Family Papers

Acquisition note

The bulk of this collection was found in the College stationery office and transferred to Special Collections in 1982. A small number of papers had already been transferred from the Kennedy-Galton Centre, Harperbury Hospital, as part of the Penrose collection in October 1974.

One box of papers originally described as relating to Haldane and his first wife Charlotte was sent by Mr A V Simcock, Librarian of the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, in March 1985. This additional box was accessioned as A377. It was later found to contain material relating only to J B S Haldane, not Charlotte, and has been re-distributed throughout the collection.

Biographical note

John Burdon Sanderson Haldane was born in Oxford on 5 November 1892, the son of John Scott Haldane and his wife, Louisa Kathleen. J B S Haldane was educated at Eton and at New College Oxford where he attained his MA. During the First World War he served in the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) in France and Iraq, 1914-1919. From 1919 to 1922 he was a Fellow of New College Oxford before moving to Cambridge University to become Reader in Biochemistry until 1932. He was also the Fullerian Professor of Physiology at the Royal Institution from 1930 to 1932 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1932.

Haldane became Professor of Genetics at University College London in 1933 and Professor of Biometry in 1937, a post he held for the next twenty years. After leaving UCL in 1957, Haldane became Research Professor at the Indian Statistical Institute until 1961. In 1962 he was appointed Head of the Genetics and Biometry Laboratory for the Government of Orissa. He received several awards for scientific excellence during his career, and also published a large number of scientific articles and writings.

During the Second World War, Haldane's UCL department was evacuated to Rothamsted Experimental Station where he carried out research in various areas connected to the war effort. In 1939 he was asked to assist with the investigation into the loss of the submarine HMS Thetis and subsequently worked on a consultancy basis for Siebe Gorman Ltd and the Admiralty during the War.

In addition to his scientific work, Haldane had a keen interest in politics and was involved in several left-wing and Marxist organisations. He contributed many articles to the Daily Worker, formerly the newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain, some on the topic of science and others on political commentary and culture.

Haldane was married twice, first to Charlotte Burghes (née Franken) whom he married in 1926, and secondly to Helen Spurway, a UCL colleague. His second marriage took place in December 1944, shortly after his divorce from Charlotte.

J B S Haldane died of cancer on the 1st December 1964. He was survived by his wife, Helen Spurway, and his younger sister, Naomi Mitchison.

Related material

University College London Special Collections also holds the following Haldane material in other collections:

  • Correspondence between John Burdon Sanderson Haldane and Benjamin Ifor Evans, Provost of University College London, on the resignations of Haldane and his second wife Helen (née Spurway), 1956-1957 (Ref: MS ADD 256)
  • Six letters to D M S Watson, 1958-1963, and one to J O Wisdom, 1954 (Ref: MS ADD 112)
  • Correspondence and book reviews relating to India, 1959-1963 (Ref: MS ADD 277)
  • Copies of correspondence with Arthur C Clarke, 1951, 1962-1964 (Ref: MS ADD 379)
  • Letters to Lionel Sharples Penrose, 1934-1968 (Ref: PENROSE)
  • Five letters to his sister Naomi (later Mitchison) [1907], [1915] and undated (Ref: MS MISC 4H)
  • An undated poem and manuscript notes (Ref: MS MISC 5H)
  • University College London Records Office has several files of material relating to Haldane's employment at UCL. For further information, please contact the Records Office directly. Please note that files of former staff and students are generally not available for public access for 80 years after the individual has left UCL.

    J B S Haldane material can also be found in other repositories:

  • The National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, holds correspondence, notebooks and papers of Haldane, 1907-1964 (Ref: MSS 20534-660; Ch 15521-24) and letters to his family, essays, etc, 1898-1908, including six letters to his sister, 1920-1928 (Ref: Acc 4549, 9186).
  • The Royal Society holds a small number of letters to and from Haldane and his certificate of election as a Fellow (12 items)
  • The Imperial War Museum, Department of Documents, holds twelve letters to his sister whilst serving in the Black Watch, 1914-1917. (Private Papers of Naomi Mitchison, Ref: Documents 681)
  • Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, holds correspondence with Cyril Darlington, 1915-1968 (Ref: CSAC103/3/85) and correspondence relating to the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, 1933-1935 (Ref: Index).
  • Oxford University, Wolfson College Library, holds correspondence with H B D Kettlewell, 1952-1966.
  • Oxford University, Edward Grey Institute, holds correspondence with David Lack.
  • King's College London, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, holds correspondence with Sir B H Liddell Hart, 1937-1939 (Ref: KCLMA Liddell Hart B H).
  • The University of Liverpool Library, Special Collections and Archives, holds a small amount of correspondence from Haldane to William Olaf Stapleden, (Ref: OS/H2/A10), 1935-1948.
  • Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, holds correspondence with Joseph Needham, 1960-1965 (Ref: MSS A.828; H.186; H.203 passim); Haldane's letter of acceptance of the post of Sir William Dunn Reader, 1923 (BCHEM 3/6/28) and photograph of the Biochemistry department staff including Haldane, 1930 (Ref: BCHEM 3/6/29-30).
  • Cambridge University, King's College Archive Centre, holds 2 letters from Haldane to Gertrude Kingston, 1937-1923 (Ref: GAK/1/2/1); 7 letters from Haldane to J M Keynes and copy of a petition in connection with the penalties imposed on Haldane for adultery, 1925-1926 (Ref: JMK/PP/45/128).
  • Cambridge University, Needham Research Institute, holds 6 letters from Haldane to Joseph Needham, 1931-1960 (Ref: NRI2)
  • Rice University, Woodson Research Center, Houston, Texas, USA, holds 28 items of correspondence with Sir Julian Huxley, 1920-1964 (Ref: Julian S Huxley papers).
  • Terms of use

    Most items are open and available at UCL Special Collections. Some items in this collection are not available for general access due to data protection and confidentiality restrictions. Specific restrictions are explained in the description for each item.

    Location of duplicates

    A digitised copy is held by the Wellcome Library as part of Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics.

    Languages

    • Dutch
    • English
    • French
    • Latin
    • Italian
    • Portuguese
    • German
    • Spanish

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