- Haldane, J. B. S. (John Burdon Sanderson), 1892-1964
Where to find it
About this work
1. Scientific Research
2. Publications and Drafts
3. Papers Relating to UCL
4. Committees and Societies
6. Personal and Family Papers
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.
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.
University College London Special Collections also holds the following Haldane material in other collections:
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: