The Biochemical Society

  • Biochemical Society
c.1895 - 2006
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The collection of the Biochemical Society comprises administrative paperwork and correspondence with various individuals and external organisations, reports and consultative papers written by the society and others, agenda, minutes and supporting paperwork for meetings held by the Society's various committees and groups, details of conferences and symposia and nominees and recipients of awards and funding. There are also photographs, negatives and slides, publications and articles written by members of the society and others, a series of audio visual interviews, materials used for promotional purposes and to mount an exhibition to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the society and a section of ephemera. The collection also contains three other groups of material:

Section P contains the laboratory notes of Dr Frederick Sanger's experiments on the sequencing of proteins, which earned him his first Nobel Prize in 1958; and on the sequencing of nucleic acids, for which he was awarded his second Nobel Prize in 1980, along with photographs and a publication.

Section Q has the papers of Dr David Keilin, his daughter Dr Joan Keilin and his wife Dr Anna Keilin. It contains research notes by David and Joan Keilin, publications and articles written by all three, correspondence, photographs of the family with their friends and colleagues and pieces of ephemera.

Material from Whitchurch Hospital (Cardiff City Mental Hospital) is contained in section R. There are notes and the results of research, studies and experiments carried out by medical staff at the hospital, articles witten in German, correspondence and photographs.


c.1895 - 2006

Physical description

241 boxes and 1 o/s item


The collection is divided into the following sections:

A: Committees, boards and panels.

B: Scientific and regional groups, sections and working parties.

C: Administrative, business, project and campaign papers.

D: Published material and related correspondence.

E: Conferences and symposia.

F: Awards, medals and prizes.

G: Reports, discussion and consultative papers.

H: Papers of individuals.

J: External organisations:

K: The 75th Anniversary of the Biochemical Society.

L: Promotional material

M: Photographs, negatives and slides.

N: Ephemera. P: Dr Frederick Sanger.

Q: Professor David Keilin, Dr Anna Keilin and Dr Joan Keilin.

R: Whitchurch Hospital (Cardiff City Mental Hospital).

Acquisition note

The collection (accession 1565) was deposited at the library at Wellcome Collection in January 2008. Accessions 1891 and 1892 were acquired in March 2012. Accession 1892 is catalogued as SA/BIO/D/1/58; accessions 1891, 2135, 2138, 2193 and 2196 are uncatalogued and not yet available.

Biographical note

The Biochemical Society was founded in 1911 to promote and disseminate biochemistry as an independent discipline within the UK and the Irish Republic and it continues to play a role, both nationally and internationally, in the development of the molecular life sciences. It has a wide-ranging programme of lectures and publications, published by the Portland Press, a subsidiary of the Biochemical Society, and actively encourages and promotes education at all levels in this area.

Biochemistry has since its beginnings in the early part of the 20th century underpinned many advances in medicine. The Biochemical Society collection contains material that can be used to help give insight into the history of some of these advances including correspondence and audio visual interviews with figures such as Sir Rudolph Peters, Max Perutz, Cesar Milstein and the double Nobel Prize Laureate Dr Frederick Sanger, who also donated his laboratory notebooks to the Society in May 2005. A project to digitize the oral history records of the collection was completed in July 2005 by the British Universities Film and Video Council.

Related material

Various Biochemical Society films have been digitised as part of the JISC-supported JISC-supported Film and Sound Online project (now known as JISC-Mediahub), and are available to the UK further/higher education community, and to Wellcome Collection users (on site access only): click here to explore the holdings.

Copyright note

The Biochemical Society retains its copyrights in this material.

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.

Appraisal note

A certain amount of duplication was found whilst sorting and listing the material. The duplicates were, in the case of published material, returned to the Biochemical Society, or discarded.

Accruals note

The following is an interim description of material that has been acquired since this collection was catalogued. This description may change when cataloguing takes place in future:

5 transfer boxes received March 2012 (acc. 1891), consisting of: Papers generated by the work of Professor Geoffrey Smith as editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, chiefly consisting of alphabetical lists of dictionary headings and files accumulating raw material for those headings, but also some administrative correspondence.

5 transfer boxes of Fred Sanger personalia (accessions 2135, 2138, 2193 and 2196) chiefly comprising correspondence and photographs.

- Acc 2641: 1 box containing personal and professional papers of Dr Frederick Sanger including laboratory photographs, conscientious objection correspondence and a scrapbook containing press cuttings and black and white photographs relating to Dr Frederick Sanger's research, career and achievements in biochemistry, including winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1958.

Ownership note

Stored at the University of London Depository Library, Egham, Surrey, prior to its transfer to the Wellcome Library.

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Accession number

  • 1565
  • 1891
  • 1892
  • 2135
  • 2138
  • 2193
  • 2196
  • 2247
  • 2255
  • 2256
  • 2641