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Mellanby, Sir Edward

  • Mellanby, Edward, Sir, b. 1884.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Sir Edward Mellanby is noted both for his contribution to medical knowledge, specifically his research on vitamins, nutrition and deficiency, and for his work in the promotion and administration of medical research as Secretary to the Medical Research Council from 1933-1949. While this latter aspect is under-represented in the papers, for reasons noted below, there is material on his activities subsequent to his retirement as an advisor on questions of research and medical administration: the collection as a whole is stronger on his research interests.

A bibliography of Mellanby's publications can be found appended to Dale's memoir in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 1955, Vol I.

May Tweedy married Edward Mellanby in 1914 and collaborated in his research throughout the rest of their lives together, as well as working independently. It can thus be seen that it is not altogether easy to differentiate between the papers of this couple; for example in Section C of Sir Edward's papers are included a number of files and volumes relating to his wife's work as his associate, while her diaries in Section E contain details of her husband's activities as well as her own. Although Lady Mellanby was Sir Edward's collaborator throughout the course of his career, her papers are on the whole distinct from his and concentrate on her work in research into dentition and dental problems. They are therefore listed separately, and the list annotated at relevant points where there is an overlap.

Section M contained films prepared by Sir Edward and Lady Mellanby relating (predominantly) to their research work. These have been transferred to the Moving Image and Sound Collection.

It is clear that these papers are not a complete record of the Mellanbys' careers. It is likely that following Sir Edward Mellanby's death, when the material underwent various moves, some items were lost. However, as for 16 years he was Secretary of the Medical Research Council, the record of those years is to be found among the files of the MRC, although details of the relevant files at the MRC are not yet available.



Physical description

52 boxes, 3 o/s folders 3 folders 1 o/s folder


A-D Papers of Sir Edward Mellanby

A. Personal and biographical

A.1-11 Diaries

A.12 CV

A.13 Letters of condolence on death of brother

A.14 "Ted's Illness"

A.15-37 Awards, Appointments, Honours etc

A.38-57 Posthumous

A.58-59 Biographical miscellaneous

A.60-63 Presscuttings and ephemera

B. Scientific and miscellaneous correspondence

B.1-8 Early career 1913-1933

B.9-15 Correspondence 1934-1949

B.16-41 Correspondence 1949-1955

C. Research

C.1-5 Animal experimentation licences

C.6-41 Notebooks and summaries of dog diet experiments [c.1918-c.1955]

C.42 Fairbank Kirby Ltd

C.43-51 Alcohol Research

C.52-71 Osteomalacia

C.72 Vitamin A, C, D and E: letters

C.73-78 Pro-rachitic action of cereals (phytate)

C.79 Cancer

C.80-94 Vitamin A deficiency

C.95 Nutrition Building Mill Hill

C.96-116 Agene and Canine Hysteria

C.117 Creatin and Creatinine

C.118-130 LMS (methionine sulphoximine)

C.131 Fluorine

C.132 Tissue Culture

C.133 Notebook

C.134 Visual Aids

D. Lectures and writings

D.1-7 Early papers

D.8-70 Notes and Lectures 1922-1954

D.71-96 Undated Lectures

D.97 Short articles and reviews

D.98 MRC reports and memoranda

E-L Papers of Lady Mellanby

E Personal

F Correspondence: mainly on dental matters

G Scientific research

H Surveys of children's teeth

J Medical Research Council

K Dental Bodies

L Writings

Films received with these paperes, formerly catalogued as PP/MEL/M, are held by the Wellcome Library Moving Image and Sound Collection. They can be ordered through the library's online catalogue.

Acquisition note

These papers were received by the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre in October 1984 from Dr G.M. Little, Sir Edward's nephew, with the consent of Mrs Joan Kingdon, Lady Mellanby's executor.

Biographical note

Sir Edward Mellanby:

For further information about Mellanby's life and career, see Dictionary of National Biography, 1951-1960, Munk's Roll, Vol V, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 1955 Vol 1, and B S Platt "Sir Edward Mellanby, GBE,KCB,MD,FRCP,FRS (1884-1955) The Man, Research Worker and Statesman" in The Excitement and Fascination of Science (Annual Reviews Inc, Palo Alto California USA 1965). See also PP/MEL/A.56-59.

1884 Apr 8 Born in West Hartlepool, youngest of six children

1898-1902 Educated at Barnard Castle School

1902 Emmanuel College Cambridge

1906 Research student, Emmanuel, working under Gowland Hopkins

1909-1911 Demonstrator in Department of Physiology, St Thomas's Hospital

1910 MA,MB(Cantab)

1910-1912 Beit Memorial Fellowship

1913-1920 Chair of Physiology of the University of London in the King's (subsequently Queen Elizabeth's) College for Women

1914 Married May Tweedy

1915 MD (Cantab)

c.1918 Work on the absorption of alcohol, under the MRC for the Liquor Control Board

1920-1933 Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Sheffield

1925 FRS

1928 FRCP

1931 Chairman, League of Nations Nutrition and Vitamins Standardisation Commission

1933 Appointed Secretary to the Medical Research Council

1936-1937 Fullerian Professor of the Royal Institution

1937 KCB

1937-1941 Honorary Physician to King George VI

1942 Chairman of the Advisory Medical Panel of the British Council

1946 Work on the role of agene in flour in the causation of canine hysteria

1948 Visited South Africa to advise on medical research

1949 Attended African Scientific Regional Congress

Retired as Secretary to the Medical Research Council

1950-1951 Visited India to advise on medical research policy

1951 Visit to Australia and New Zealand to advise on medical research

1955 Jan 30 Died suddenly in the garden of the Nutrition Building, Mill Hill

Lady May Mellanby:

May Tweedy was born in 1882, educated at Hampstead and Bromley High Schools, and then went to Girton College, Cambridge, where she pursued the Natural Science Tripos, Parts I and II, 1902-1905. She then held the post of Research Scholar and Lecturer at Bedford College London, 1906-1914. She married Edward Mellanby in 1914 and collaborated in his research throughout the rest of their lives together. Besides all the work she carried out with her husband on nutrition, she also conducted independently research into the physiology of dentition and the causes of dental disease, and was involved with a number of bodies making policy in this field. She died in 1978.

Related material

In the Wellcome Library:

The Wellcome Library's Moving Image and Sound Collection includes various films received with these papers, as listed below:

Film F3300 - 'Private': family footage, including Sir Edward and Lady Mellanby in formal dress for Coronation of George V [2 copies] See catalogue entry.

Film F3301 - 'Birmingham' 1931 Administration of treacle and olive oil as diet supplements for children at Erdington and Marston Green Homes See catalogue entry.

Film F3302 - 'Birmingham' 1931 Administration of cod liver oil as diet supplement for children at Erdington and Marston Green Homes See catalogue entry.

Film F3303 - Phytate. The anticalcifying toxamin of cereals [2 copies] See catalogue entry.

Film F3304 - Canine hysteria [3 copies] See catalogue entry.

Film F3305 - Vitamin A deficiency, c.1946 [6 copies] See catalogue entry.

Film F3306 - Animal behaviour See catalogue entry.

Film F3307 - The effect of feeding oats subject to chemical and biological treatment, c.1949 [2 copies] See catalogue entry.

Film F3308 - 'Dogs' various dogs running and walking See catalogue entry.

Film F3309 - 'Two more research Institutes in India', Indian News Review, no 125 See catalogue entry.

Sir Walter M. Fletcher and his son Sir Charles M. Fletcher, both represented as correspondents in the Mellanby papers, also have collections of personal papers in the Library in their own right (PP/WMF and PP/CMF respectively).

At other repositories:

There are files at the National Institute of Medical Research, Mill Hill.

There is some correspondence between Mellanby and A. Webb Johnson at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Finding aids

Hard-copy finding aid available at the Wellcome Library. To further facilitate the use of the papers, certain files, marked with an asterisk in the list, have been indexed (see pp 40-82).

Appraisal note

The papers here were found in a somewhat confused state and a certain amount of rearranging and imposing of order was necessary in order to render this collection coherent and accessible to the user.

Location of duplicates

The following images have been photographed and digital versions mounted on the Wellcome Images website, the L numbers being their serial numbers on that site: PP/MEL/C/54, 5 photographs of dogs used in calcium experiments, 1930-1932, L49174-78 PP/MEL/C/54, 15 x-ray photographs of dogs used in calcium experiments, L49179-93 PP/MEL/E.6/6, photograph of Edward and May Mellanby on their wedding day, L32780 PP/MEL/E.6/11, formal group photograph including Sir Edward Mellanby, L0051279 In addtion, all original films in section PP/MEL/M have been copied for preservation purposes: videos and CDs are available for viewing by Library users.

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