Lister Institute

  • Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Incorporated 1891 as the British (renamed 1899 Jenner) Institute; Lister Institute from 1903. Papers, c.1889-c.1960, relating mainly to the early history of the Institute; test and production registers of former serum production department, 1898-1953.



Physical description

51 boxes, 10 oversize items, 7 reels of microfilm Microfilms


The papers received by no means make up a complete and coherent archive. Many records were destroyed when the Institute's Chelsea site was bombed during the war, and papers of Sir Charles Martin were transferred to the Australian Academy of Sciences, Canberra.A good deal of rearrangement of the material was necessary, and at least a linear foot of duplicate material was set on one side. It is impossible to deduce from the surviving papers what the record-keeping practices of the Lister Institute were. In many cases an issue in the Institute's history is only documented owing to the care taken by one of its officers to ensure the preservation of his own papers on the subject. The arrangement into which the papers have been ordered is not, therefore, strictly archival. They have been grouped into a number of sections which, it is hoped, reflect the historical development and work of the Institute, and make the material accessible to the reader. To further this latter aim there is an index to correspondents.

In spite of the above reservations this is nevertheless a valuable archive. The minutes provide a chronological account of the dealings of the Institute and this is fleshed out at various points by the material in the files.

Outline List

A. Minutes, 1886-1982

B. Annual Reports, 1895-1986

C. Origins and establishment, 1889-1898

D. Other bodies: amalgamation, 1886-1898

E. Vivisection Controversy, 1889-1899

F. Lord Lister's correspondence, 1893-1912

G. J L Pattison's correspondence, 1898-1903, 1914

H. Organisation and Administration, 1896-1949

I. Serum and Vaccine Lymph: production and distribution, 1894-1950

J. Research Projects, 1891-c.1940s

K. Relations with outside bodies and individuals, 1889-1975

L. Properties of the Lister Institute

M. Historical items

N. Biographical items

O. Miscellanea

P. Pamphlets: Lister Institute and related bodies

Q. Pamphlets: other institutions

R. Photographs

S. Letters from Lord Lister to Dr G Dean (photocopies)

Index to correspondents (hard copy catalogue in Library only)

Acquisition note

The majority of these papers were received from the Lister Institute in July 1985. They then consisted of 18 brown paper parcels and 6 volumes. Minutes and bound Annual Reports are at present retained by the Institute but Minutes to 1982 and Annual Reports to 1941 have been microfilmed and listed by the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre. Copies of Annual Reports from 1941 are held at the CMAC. The photocopy letters of Lord Lister in Section S were acquired in 1987 as described in the introduction to that section. Testing and production records in Section I were found in the stable block of Queensbury Lodge and transferred to CMAC in June 1994. They were in a state of poor preservation, with damage from damp and insects, and required clearning and some repair. A little additional material has been kindly donated by former members of staff, including Professor Leslie Collier, Dr Leon Vallet and Dr Jean Dolby.

Biographical note

The Lister Institute no longer exists in its old form conducting research and producing vaccines and sera, but now administers fellowships for research in the biomedical sciences.

Historical summary:

This covers constitutional and administrative matters. For accounts of the research undertaken at the Lister Institute, see Chick, Hume and Macfarlane, War on Disease.

1881: Demonstration by Koch of his culture technique in London

1885: First use of Pasteur's anti-rabies treatment

1886: Inauguration of College of State Medicine

1888: Foundation of Institut Pasteur in Paris

1888: Move of College of State Medicine to 101 Great Russell Street

1889 Jul 1: Meeting at Mansion House to discuss the setting up of British Pasteur Institute

1889 Nov: Formation of a committee to investigate the practicability of a British Institute for research

1891: Incorporation of the British Institute for Preventive Medicine (BIPM)

1893-1896: M A Ruffer as Director of the BIPM

1893: Purchase of the Chelsea site

1893: Proposal to amalgmate with the Sanitary Institute

1893 Dec: Amalgmation with the College of State Medicine

1894: Therapeutic diphtheria anti-toxin produced

1894 Apr: Anti-Vivisectionists Delegations to the Home Secretary and the President of the Board of Trade, and Public Protest Meeting held in Pimlico, objecting to the establishment of the BIPM in Chelsea

1894 Jun: BIPM delegation to the Board of Trade

1894 Aug: Establishment of the Serum Department at Sudbury

1896-1903: A MacFadyen as Director

1896: Setting up of the Jenner Memorial Fund

1898: First stage of Chelsea site completed

1898 Dec: First Earl of Iveagh's donation of £250,000 to the BIPM, and its reconstitution (For an account of the constitutional arrangements, see under Minutes)

1898-1903: Lord Lister Chairman of Governing Body

1899: Name changed to Jenner Institute of Preventive Medicine

1902: Purchase of Queensberry Lodge, Elstree

1903-1930: Professor Sir C J Martin as Director

1903: Serum Department moves from Sudbury to Elstree

1903: Name changes to The Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine

1904-1911: Lord Lister, having retired from the Chairmanship, becomes President

1904-1912: Sir H E Roscoe as Chairman of the Governing Body

1904: Setting up of the Advisory Committee on Plague in India

1905: Lister Institute admitted as a school of the University of London

1906: Reorganisation of the Institute

1912: Death of Lord Lister

1913-1914: Sir J Rose Bradford as Chairman of the Governing Body

1913: Proposal that the Lister Institute should form the core of a new National Institute of Medical Research

1914-1918: First World War: many of Lister staff join forces, others involved in work of national importance

1914 Nov: General Meeting of members of the Institute rejects proposal to amalgamate with the Medical Research Council

1915: Sir H E Roscoe as Chairman of the Governing Body

1915-1931: General Sir David Bruce as Chairman of the Governing Body

1915-1935: Vaccine Lymph Department in Cornwall

1919: Establishment of the National Collection of Type Cultures at the Lister

1919: Reconstruction Committee: proposal to establish a Research Hospital

1919: Lord Iveagh resigns from Governing Body, assigning his place and responsibilities to the Rt Hon Walter Guinness MP (later Lord Moyne)

1927 Oct 7: Death of Lord Iveagh

1929: Professor A Harden of the Lister awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his researches on alcoholic fermentation

1930-1942: Sir J Ledingham as Director

1932-1940: Professor W Bulloch as Chairman of the Governing Body

1935: The Rockefeller Foundation makes a grant to the Lister for the purchase of a Svedberg velocity and equilibrium centrifuge

1939-1945: World War II. Besides those serving in the Forces, the staff of the Lister were engaged in work of national importance

1940-1941: Lord Moyne as Chairman of the Governing Body

1940 Sep: Bombing on Chelsea site

1941 Apr: Bombing on Chelsea site

1942-1961: Sir H.H. Dale as Chairman of the Governing Body (material relating to this can be found among the Dale papers in the library of the Royal Society)

1943-1953: Sir A N Drury as Director

1944: Medical Research Council Blood Research Unit set up at the Lister

1944 Nov 6: Death of Lord Moyne; 2nd Earl of Iveagh inherits his rights of nomination to the Governing Body

1949: Articles of Association altered

1952-1971: Sir A A Miles as Director

1961-1968: Sir C Dodds as Chairman of the Governing Body

1966: 75th Anniversary Celebrations

1968-1970: Sir L Brown as Chairman of the Governing Body

1968: New buildings on Chelsea site

1970-: Professor A Neuberger as Chairman of the Governing Body

1971-1972: Professor D G Evans as Director

1972-1975: Professor W T J Morgan as Director

1975: Closure of Chelsea Laboratories

1978 Aug: Closure of Vaccine and Sera Laboratories, Elstree

1981: Beginning of the new policy of the Lister as a grantmaking body

: Setting up of a Scientific Advisory Committee to consider applications for the support of research in biomedical sciences

1982 Oct: Council disbanded, Memorandum and Articles of Association amended

Related material

At Wellcome Collection:

A number of framed engravings and photographs were transferred to the Wellcome Institute in December 1985 and are in the care of the Iconographic Department.

At other repositories:

The library was, unfortunately, dispersed during the running down of the Institute's activities. Some of the books and a set of the Institute's Collected Papers were transferred to the Royal College of Pathologists in 1980.

Digitised copies of annual reports and accounts for 1895-2019 are available online at The Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine

Copyright note

Readers wishing to publish extracts should contact the Lister Institute

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 for more details.

Location of duplicates

The following photographs are held by Wellcome Images:

SA/LIS/L.63, 1/8 scale plan of Lister Institute's Chelsea site, [c.1894-5], L31734

SA/LIS/L.63, 4th floor plan of Lister Institute's Chelsea site, [c.1894-5], L31733

SA/LIS/L.63, 2nd floor plan of Lister Institute's Chelsea site, [c.1894-5], L31731

SA/LIS/L.63, 1st floor plan of Lister Institute's Chelsea site, [c.1894-5], L31730

SA/LIS/L.63, Ground floor plan of Lister Institute's Chelsea site, [c.1894-5], L31729

SA/LIS/L.63, 3rd floor plan of Lister Institute's Chelsea site, [c.1894-5], L31732

SA/LIS/L.63, Basement plan of Lister Institute's Chelsea site, [c.1894-5], L31728

SA/LIS/R.37, Photo of Dr A.T. Maclonkey sitting at laboratory table, L32766

SA/LIS/R.38, Photo of Dr A.T. Maclonkey sitting in an office, L32765B

SA/LIS/R.48, Copy of portrait of Charles J Martin, n.d, L29957

SA/LIS/R.51a, Muriel Robertson fishing for leeches at Elstree, 1910-1911, L29958

SA/LIS/R.67, Photograph of Dr S R Rowland and Mr H Bray, with Mobile Laboratory, 1914, L28891

SA/LIS/R.68, Sir Marc Armand Ruffer, n.d., L29959

The following items are available in the Library on microfilm:

A.1-5 Microfilm: Minutes 1896-1982 (AMS/MF/11)

A.6 Microfilm: Minutes 1899-1908 (AMS/MF/12)

A.7-8 Microfilm: Governors' minute books 2/3 1908-1942 (AMS/MF/13)

A.9 Microfilm: Governors' minute book 4 1942-1955 (AMS/MF/14)

A.12-13 Microfilm: Governors' minute books 7-8 1971-1982 (AMS/MF/15)

A.14-18 Microfilm: Building/house/finance/academic Cttes minutes books (AMS/MF/16)

B.1-16 Microfilm: Annual reports 1895-1899 (AMS/MF/17)

E.8 Microfilm: Vivisection press cuttings book 1894-1899 (AMS/MF/83)

L.1-46 Microfilm: Property deeds, leases etc (AMS/MF/18)

O.3 Microfilm: 75th anniversary scrap book (AMS/MF/19)


File E.8 is too fragile to be produced. Readers are requested to order the microfilm version quoting AMS/MF/83.

The catalogue is available on microfiche via the National Inventory of Documentary Sources (NIDS).

Permanent link


Accession number

  • 214
  • 260
  • 268
  • 513
  • 523
  • 1317