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
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.
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-
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.
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:
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.
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.
Location of duplicates
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 Pioneer Health Centre activities.
Acc 2507: Pioneer Health Centre Members' Register: Alphabetically arranged volume of members giving name, address, occupation, date of election, date when ceased to be a member and subscription remarks. Annual returns at the rear 1932-1938.
Acc 2705 (rec'd Feb 2023): Papers belonging to the late Douglas Trotter relating to the Pioneer Health Centre. Folder 1: "Pepper" (correspondence with Alan Pepper and related papers); folder 2: "Principal Watson" (correspondence with Principal Steven Watson, University of St Andrews, and related papers).
The papers were dispersed, being held by a number of individuals connected with the Pioneer Health Centre Ltd who had been involved with the Centre during its active years and with Scott Williamson and Innes Pearse.
The initial accession (282) was received in February 1988 from Rev JD Trotter and consisted largely of material by Scott Williamson and Pearse.
A second accession (322) of one box of photographs was received from Mrs Pamela Elven in September 1989.
In January 1993 a third accession (459) of material which had been in the hands of various individuals connected with Peckham was received via Mrs Elven; this contained much of the material relating to the Centre and its activities, some additional pictorial/audio-visual material assigned to section H, and a few further Scott Williamson and Pearse, including the majority of the material on their pathological and thyroid research.
A fourth accession of material was received in October 1993 from Rev Trotter (485) was received: this was mainly but not exclusively writings of Scott Williamson.
Some home movies of the activities of the Centre were given in March 1997 by Jini Rawlings, a film-maker who had received them from the PHC Ltd to use in a video (A Pool of Information: the search for positive health, H.3/3) (695).
A small amount of additional material was received via Allan Pepper in March 1998 (752), mainly relating to the activities of the Pioneer Health Centre Ltd subsequent to the closure of the Peckham building, but including the files of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust relating to their support for the Peckham Centre.
There are considerable gaps in the surviving material and it is clear that one substantial file series, for which a list exists at B.5/14, had completely disappeared.
A long letter from Sir Robert McCarrison to Williamson and Pearse, part of a longer correspondence, was given by Scott Williamson to Dr Kenneth Barlow, and given by Barlow's daughter to Dr Philip Conford, who presented it to the Wellcome Library