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Pioneer Health Centre Peckham, with papers of George Scott Williamson MD (1884-1953) and Innes Hope Pearse (1889-1978)

Pioneer Health Centre Peckham
  • Archives and manuscripts
  • Online

About this work


Minute books, 1926-1927, and Annual reports, 1926-1938 of the Pioneer Health Centre Peckham, and volumes of press-cuttings about the Centre 1929-1961; files, publications and ephemera relating to the activities of the Centre, 1925-1952; files of the Pioneer Health Centre Ltd (now the Pioneer Health Foundation) following the closure of the Centre, 1950-2005; books about the Centre; photographs, films and videos; papers of George Scott Williamson, 1910-1991, including personalia, correspondence, lectures, drafts of articles and books, notes; papers of Innes Hope Pearse, including personalia, correspondence, notes, manuscripts, drafts of The Quality of Life, reprints; materials relating to Scott Williamson and Pearse's research on pathology and the thyroid, including notes, lectures, manuscripts, correspondence, and reprints.

The Pioneer Health Foundation continues to promote the findings of the Peckham Experiment.



Physical description

35 boxes and 4 large boxes 1 volume 1 folder 1 plan folder B.5/7; F.12 B.5/8/1


A. Minute books Annual reports and press-cuttings, 1926-1967

B. General materials relating to the Centre activities, 1925-1952: B.1 Pilot experiment , 1925-1929

B.2 Planning the next stage, 1929-1935

B.3 Field experiment: first stage, 1935-1939

B.4 War years, 1939-1945

B.5 Field experiment: second stage, 1945-1950

B.6 Closure of Field Experiment, 1950-1952

C. Pioneer Health Centre Ltd: forward from Peckham, 1950-2005

D. George Scott Williamson papers, 1910-1991

E. Innes Hope Pearse papers, 1916-1979

F. Material relating to thyroid/pathology research and teaching, 1909-1937

G. Books about Peckham, 1931-[1992]

H. Photos and A-V material, 1920s-1990s.

NB The material was received in a very disorganised state due to its dispersal, and in very few cases were the files obviously original, so that most of the files are artificial constructs containing related material. Much of the material cannot be dated with any accuracy. Ther were problems in assigning items to the various subdivisions. Material produced for internal circulation within the Centre or for specific purposes such as fund-raising, was allocated to sections A and B, and items by Scott Williamson and Pearse directed at a wider audience for their ideas have been placed in Sections D and E. The divisions however are very far from clearcut.

Acquisition note

These records were deposited with the Wellcome Library by Rev JD Trotter in Feb 1988 (Acc No 282); Mrs Pamela Elven in Sep 1989 (Acc No 322) and Jan 1993 (Acc no 459); Rev JD Trotter in Pct 1993 (Acc No 485); Jini Rawlings in Mar 1997 (Acc No 695); Allan Pepper in Marc 1998 (Acc no 752). Acc 2011 was received from Dr Philip Conford in Sep 2013

Biographical note

George Scott Williamson:

1884 born, Ladybank Scotland;

1904 goes to Edinburgh School of Medicine;

1906 qualifies MB ChB;

1908-1910 working at Research Laboratory, West Riding Asylums Board;

1910-1919 working in Department of Pathology, University of Bristol;

1914-1918 serving in France with RAMC : Lt-Col in charge of field ambulances; mention in despatches, MC; POW in Germany for 9 months;

1919 awarded MD and Gold Medal;

1920-1926 Pathologist and Director of Pathological Studies, Royal Free Hospital;

1921 onwards engaged in thyroid and goitre work at Royal Free;

1925 gives Arris and Gale lectures, Royal College of Surgeons;

1926-1935 pathologist at Ear Nose and Throat Hospital; continues Thyroid research at St Bartholomew's with Royal College of Surgeons grant;

1950 marries Innes Pearse;

1953 Jun dies;

1969 Science Synthesis and Sanity published posthumously

Innes Hope Pearse:

1889 born

Trained at London Medical School for Women/Royal Free Hospital

1916 receives LMSSA; appointment at Bristol Royal Hospital for Women and Children;

1918 House Surgeon Great Northern Hospital London;

1919 House Physician London Hospital;

1920 Demonstrator, Anatomical Department, St Thomas's Hospital;

1921 onwards engaged in thyroid and goitre work at Royal Free with Scott Williamson;

1950 marries Scott Williamson;

1969 Science Synthesis and Sanity published;

1978 28 Dec dies;

1979 The Quality of Life published

Pioneer Health Centre:

1926 Apr Founding of the first Health Centre, Peckham, at Queen's Road SE5;

1926-1929 115 families join the Centre;

1929 First Centre closed;

1931 Publication of The Case for Action, Pioneer Health Centre registered with Charity Commissioners, £10,000 subscribed by Jack Donaldson followed by another £10,000 from other sources, site on St Mary's Road Peckham chosen for purpose-designed building;

1935 May New Pioneer Health Centre opens;

1938 Publication of Biologists in Search of Material;

1939 Visit by HM Queen Mary, Centre closes for the war;

1943 Publication of The Peckham Experiment;

1945 Publication of Physician Heal Thyself;

1946 Mar Re-opening of Centre;

1948 Premiere of film about Centre;

1950 Centre closes, Williamson and Pearse marry;

1953 Jun death of Williamson;

1969 Science, Synthesis and Sanity published;

1978 Dec 28 Pearse dies;

1979 The Quality of Life published.

Related material

In Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library: see also Cancer Research Campaign SA/CRC/R.1/3, Eugenics Society SA/EUG/D.158–9, Family Planning Association SA/FPA/SR14/30A-B, 31, Medical Women's Federation SA/MWF/N.14/5, Society of Medical Officers of Health SA/SMO/R.3, and papers of Robina Addis PP/ADD/F/3/1 and of C P Blacker, PP/CPB/B.12 . See also publications in the Library collections.

One fundraising leaflet, c. 1937, is on loan to the Science Museum, their ref 1994-100.

Please note: the copy of the video A Pool of Information formerly held by the Archives and Manuscripts department under the reference SA/PHC/H.2/4/1 has been transferred to the Library's Moving Image and Sound Collections: details can be seen, and orders placed here. A booklet about the video is retained in this collection as SA/PHC/H.2/4/2.

Appraisal note

Duplicate material was weeded.

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:

1 wooden box received March 2009 (acc. 1651), consisting of: Photographic slides of of Pioneer Health Centre activities. Please note that this item is currently being conserved and cataloguing cannot take place until this process has been completed.


  • English

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