Williams, Cicely Delphine (1893-1992)

  • Williams, Cicely Delphine, 1893-1992
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The collection covers most aspects of Williams' life and career after 1939.

Papers from her work with the British Colonial Service in Ghana, 1928-1936, were largely lost during transit to her next appointment in Singapore, but the typescript copy of her 1935 report "The mortality and morbidity of the children of the Gold Coast" is extant.

Many papers relating to Williams' work with the British Colonial Service in Singapore, 1936-1941, were lost during the Japanese invasion, but she took a few files into Changi jail, where she wrote up the report "An experiment in health work in Trengganu in 1940-1941". Notebooks, correspondence and writings made during her internment, when she was appointed as camp nutritionist by her fellow women prisoners, are also in the collection.

Post-war papers cover most aspects of Williams' work, including positions with the World Health Organisation, the American University at Beirut and Tulane School of Public Health, as well as correspondence and collected reprints relating to work carried out in 'retirement' at Wyndham House, Oxford.



Physical description

56 boxes 2 outsize folders


By section as follows:

A. Personal and biographical;

B. British colonial service 1929-1948;

C. Work in UK 1948-1967;

D. World Health Organisation, head of MCH services, 1948-1951, and consultancy work for WHO 1951-1966;

E. Consultancy work abroad 1951-1982;

F. American University of Beirut 1960-1964;

G. Tulane School of Public Health and work in USA 1969-1980;

H. Work in 'retirement' 1976-1987;

J. Publications and articles;

K. Lectures;

L. Ephemera: reprints, articles and reports;

M. Audio-visual material.

Acquisition note

These records were given to the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre (known as Archives and Manuscripts following its merger with Western Manuscripts in July 2000) in 1993 with the agreement of Cicely Williams' nieces, Mrs EK Cruickshank and Mrs RM Dale-Harris, and nephew, Mr Michael Williams. The first accession was received in April, from the International Nutrition Foundation, Sutton Courtenay, where the papers had been placed by Michael Williams after Cicely Williams' move from Wyndham House. In June Dr Jennifer Stanton, at the Wellcome Unit Oxford, deposited the second, smaller, accession of material given to her by Cicely Williams during interviews for the History Workshop Centre for Local History Newsletter in 1986. (Acc Nos 468, 473). In 1995 Sir Iain Chalmers gave a collection of files (Acc 1403), mainly to do with the support for Craddock's biography of Cicely Williams, with some personal correspondence and ephemera. Additional personalia and memorabilia was received from Mrs Cruickshank in Nov 2009, and in 2010 a file of her correspondence with her American friend Rosemary Frediani was received from the latter's family

Biographical note

Cicely Delphine Williams was born December 1893.

She first attracted the attention of the medical world when she identified the protein deficiency disease kwashiorkor whilst working with the British Colonial Service in the Gold Coast in 1928-1935, and she continued to be active in the debate over protein nutrition throughout her life.

She was equally important as a pioneer of maternal and child care in developing countries with a system based on local traditions and resources rather than on the use of expensive drugs and western systems of child care.

As first Head of the Maternal and Child Health Section of the World Health Organisation in 1949-1951 she expounded this philosophy, as she did in subsequent teaching appointments in Beirut, America and London. Her primary area of interest was maternal and child health, encompassing nutrition, breast feeding, birth control, the training of personnel and the development of health services.

She was an active member of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, speaking at their meetings.

Williams died in 1992.

Related material

At Wellcome Collection:

Related material can be found in the papers of Hugh Trowell (PP/HCT), JC Waterlow (WTI/JCW), AC Lovatt-Campbell (WTI/ALC), and the Family Planning Association (SA/FPA). Material relating to Changi jail and the Japanese occupation of Singapore can be found in the Royal Army Medical Corps Muniment Collection (RAMC). In general, readers should consult the A&M sources leaflet "War, Medicine and Health after 1918".

Appraisal note

On arrival at the Wellcome Library the collection was in a considerable state of disorder, with no obvious distinction between the contents of the two accessions. In most cases material within boxes, and even within files had no coherent order, either chronologically, or by subject, so a new arrangement had to be imposed, with sections reflecting different periods of Williams' career, and gathering together publications, lectures, ephemera and audio-visual material.

There was much duplication of papers, especially of Williams' publications, and these were weeded and placed in the printed collections of the Wellcome Library.

Material of a personal nature has been returned to the family.


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


Permanent link


Accession number

  • 468
  • 473
  • 1403
  • 1707
  • 1718