Browne, Stanley George, CMG, OBE, MD, FRCS, FRCP, DTM (1907-1986)

  • Browne, Stanley George, 1907-1986
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The archive spans Browne's life and career from school onwards.

Section A, Personal and Biographical Material, which was greatly enriched by the second accession of material in 2003, contains papers on his schooling, evening classes, further education and medical degree course. His early Christian and evangelistic activities are well documented, notably his involvement with Drummond Road Baptist Church and various groups whilst a medical student at King's College London, as well as his successful application to the Baptist Missionary Society and preparations for medical missionary work in the Belgian Congo, e.g. the Diploma in Tropical Medicine which he undertook in Antwerp. Browne's passage to the Congo and first furlough in England are also covered in this section. The numerous honours, awards, appointments and invitations Stanley Browne received during his career, including those conferred by the Belgian government and his OBE (1966) and CMG (1976), are documented in the detailed series A.16. Browne was a great letter writer and the correspondence in series A.21, mainly with his wife Mali, is a testament to their close relationship and sheds more light on his personality, family life and the role and activities he undertook on extensive foreign travels during the latter 1960s and the 1970s. This insight is supplemented by a series of pocket diaries covering the whole of his adult life (1922-1986). Mali Browne's pocket diaries covering 1968-1985 also form part of the collection. Over the years Stanley Browne maintained a number of scrapbooks (series A.22) recording aspects of his life and achievements. They chiefly relate to his early career and period in Yakusu and provide an excellent source of ephemera plus several personal photographs which supplement the main series of family photographs comprising series A.26. The death of Stanley Browne was marked by a Service of Thanksgiving on 11th February 1986 at Sutton Baptist Church. The extent to which Browne affected and influenced people's lives is evident in the hundreds of letters of condolence received by his family from individuals and organisations all over the world. Meticulously organised by Mrs Browne they now form series A.19/1 and notably include a book of condolence from the staff of the Baptist Mission Hospital in Yakusu (A.19/1/12).

Section B focuses on Stanley Browne's work as a medical missionary at the Baptist Missionary Society's hospital in Yakusu, Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The core group of records is clinical material covering 1938-1958 (B.1-B.5) including registers of leprosy sufferers, detailed case records and photograph albums documenting various symptoms. Section K contains further photographic material (mainly clinical) for the period 1938-1977, the most important series of which dates from Browne's time at the Baptist Mission Hospital and comprises over 900 negatives and prints together with supporting documentation, 1954-1958. (Please note however that there are restrictions on access to the patient material). A significant amount of non-clinical material relating to Browne's time in Yakusu was added to the collection in 2006. This includes an important set of his letters home to family, 1936-1956, containing many vivid accounts of Stanley and Mali's years in the Congo (B.7). Photographs documenting the couple's life in Yakusu and Yalisombo are also included (B.8). Rare copies of some issues of Yakusu Notes, the quarterly newsletter of the hospital staff, and Mboli ya Tengai, the monthly newsletter of the mission station plus two medical vocabularies that Browne used are contained in series B.6. The circumstances surrounding the Brownes' departure from the Congo in 1958 and relations with the BMS are conveyed, to some extent, in his correspondence in B.7/9 and B.9.

Section C contains a small number of files compiled by Browne during his research into leprosy, yaws, onchocerciasis and ainhum, 1946-1983. Particularly notable are the files on the anti-leprosy drug B663 (now known as clofazimine), into the use of which Browne conducted pioneering studies whilst director of the Leprosy Research Unit, Uzuakoli, Eastern Nigeria, 1959-1966.

Section D comprises files, dated 1948-1986, on an assortment of topics generated by various aspects of Browne's work and the organisations he was involved with during his career. Many of them can be cross-related to other sections of the archive, for example files D.3 and D.4 are connected with Browne's work in the Congo whilst other files concern his writings for various publications the bulk of which can be found in Section E. Files of notable interest are those relating to Browne's research into the history of leprosy in the United Kingdom from antiquity to the 20th century (D.13 and D.30) and the depiction of and reference to leprosy in the Bible (D.31).

Stanley Browne was a prolific writer. This is evident not only in Section E, 'Writings By S G Browne' but throughout the entire collection, for example in his personal correspondence, journals of foreign visits and pocket diaries. Taken as a whole, this material builds a detailed record of Browne's life as well as illustrating his character, motivations and beliefs. In addition, it shows the importance Stanley Browne placed on the historical record and in setting down his version of events. Section E, encompasses all aspects of his work and interests. Whilst articles are chiefly medical and religious, topics of a more social, cultural and epidemiological nature are also covered. The section is divided into four series, E.1-E.4. Series E.1 comprises 6 boxes of manuscripts, typescripts, drafts, background notes and published versions of over 500, articles and papers, in English as well as French (which Browne spoke and wrote fluently), Italian and Swedish. Browne numbered his writings individually and useful summary bibliographies compiled by him can be found in file E.1/1/25. Series E.2 contains a small amount of unpublished material, including scripts for Mokili the Bambole Elephant c.1947, an evangelistic children's story which Browne unsuccessfully encouraged the BMS to publish. Series E.3, added to the collection in 2006, comprises a mixture of published and unpublished writings arranged chronologically. Undoubtedly there is significant overlap between series E.1, E.2 and E.3 however in the absence of a painstaking comparison, the percentage of duplicated material is difficult to estimate. Series E.4, also added in 2006, comprises Stanley Browne's own record of the sermons and addresses he delivered over a period of 61 years, 1925-1986. Extraordinarily detailed for the period up to the early 1960s, the title, bible chapters and verses used, hymns sung, dates and place/s of delivery are included and several are indexed. The latter volumes are less detailed and appear to cover both religious and secular addresses.

Section F covers Browne's long-term involvement with the International Leprosy Association (ILA). In addition to some material relating to the twenty-year period that he served as a senior officer, 1966-1986, this section contains information on the history of the organisation (F.3) and its relationship with the World Health Organisation (F.3/3), plus material on various gatherings of the International Leprosy Congress. File F.4/2/3 relates to the controversy surrounding the re-election of the president at the 1984 ILA Congress in New Delhi, which Browne, as Secretary, maintained was a result achieved by constitutional procedures having been improperly followed. Browne's failure in 1984 to attain the prestigious office of President, one which many felt he clearly deserved, was a source of grave disappointment to him in the last years of his life.

Browne's association with other major international medical and missionary organisations is covered in Section G. Included are files on the work of The Leprosy Mission, to which Browne was Medical Consultant between 1966 and 1978, and LEPRA of which he was Medical Secretary 1968-1973 and Vice President 1984-1986. These roles, as well as the Directorship of the Leprosy Study Centre (see Section N), took Browne on numerous international trips which generated much of the material now listed as Section H, Foreign Visits, and engendered many of the writings in Section E. Papers relating to Stanley Browne's involvement with AISL, the international association promoting the life and work of Dr Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), have been grouped together as series G.7, and include notes of Browne's visit to Schweitzer's famous hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon, in the early 1970s and copies of the addresses he gave at Schweitzer conferences in Cambridge and Cracow in the 1980s. The series includes interesting and colourful ephemera, publications and pictorial material.

Section H provides a comprehensive record of the many foreign trips Browne made in the role of consultant, educator, evaluator, observer, preacher, policy-maker, delegate and guest. The journals and files that he compiled (series H.5 and H.6), which were added to the archive in 2006, paint an informative picture of the international leprosy situation during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Throughout that time Browne travelled nearly all the continents of the globe and his position as an esteemed world authority on leprosy opened doors even to countries which at the time kept tight controls on the entrance of foreign nationals, e.g. Libya and China. In this section there is also material on his visits to Afghanistan and Iran in the early 1970s, when they were still ruled by shahs.

Given that religion dominated Stanley Browne's life and career, and pervades all parts of this archive, Section J, entitled 'Religious Matters' is intrinsically anomalous. However, it has been used to arrange material relating to Christian activities which did not fall easily into other existing sections. Papers relating to his membership of the Christian Medical Fellowship, Baptist Union and Baptist Missionary Society from the 1960s through the 1980s are included as well as a file on his long involvement with the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana, India, (J.3) and a small amount of ephemera generated by Stanley Browne's local churches (in later life) in Sutton, Surrey (J.7).

Section K, referred to above, chiefly comprises hundreds of clinical images in the form of negatives, photographs and slides, recording cases of leprosy, related and other skin conditions plus tropical diseases such as onchocerciasis. A large number of these were taken by Stanley Browne himself, (using the Leika camera given to him by Drummond Road Baptist Church in the 1930s), whilst stationed in Congo and subsequently when director of the Leprosy Research Unit, Uzuakoli, Eastern Nigeria. Further images originate from tours and visits Stanley Browne undertook representing various organisations in 1960s and 1970s. Also included in this section, (see K.3 and K.5), are numerous supplementary negatives and slides of hospital buildings, clinics, staff and patients, local people and events and topographical scenes, notably the Happy Mount Leprosy Colony, Taiwan, tourist sites in Hong Kong and Nepal, village life in Uzuakoli and site of the former home of Scottish missionary Mary Slessor.

Sections M and N, comprise small artificial groupings of papers relating to Stanley Browne's post as Director of the Leprosy Research Unit, Uzuakoli, 1959-1966, followed by his directorship of the Leprosy Study Centre in London until 1980. As with section J, Religious Matters, files in these sections do not exclusively cover that aspect of his life but comprise papers that did not fit easily into other sections of the archive. Material connected with these stages of his career can of course be found throughout the archive, notably in sections H, Foreign Visits, and K, Photographs. Both sections M and N contain files on the history and work of each organisation and the background to Browne's appointment and departure. During his period in Nigeria he formed a close association with Dr Robert G Cochrane (1899-1985) who, like Browne, devoted his life to the study and control of leprosy (pioneering the development of sulphone therapy) and was a committed Christian. (They probably first met in the 1950s when Browne was in the Congo - see B.7/9 and B.8). Cochrane was instrumental in setting up the Leprosy Study Centre having founded its predecessor body, the Leprosy Research Fund in 1952. Some correspondence between Browne and Cochrane, 1958-1966, is located in M.3 (which includes reference to the former's trials of B663) and N.1/1.

The majority of records are in English, but there is some material in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Lingala, Portuguese and Swedish.

Stanley Browne's life has so far been described in authorized biographies published in 1958, 1980 and 1985. Browne was significantly involved in the writing and promotion of all three, as is evident from the files in Section L which includes his correspondence with the authors and publishers and some annotated typescripts.



Physical description

70 boxes, 3 o/s boxes, 3 o/s folders


The collection is arranged by section as follows:

A. Personal and Biographical Material, 1837-1986

B. Baptist Mission Hospital, Yakusu, Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), 1936-1958

C. Research Files, 1946-1983

D. General Subject Files, 1948-1986

E. Writings by S G Browne, 1935-1990

F. International Leprosy Association, 1909-1986

G. Other Organisations and International Bodies, 1952-1986

H. Foreign Visits, 1962-1985

J. Religious Matters, c.1945-1986

K. Photographs, 1938-1977

L. Biographies and Writings about Stanley Browne, 1959-1986

M. Leprosy Research Unit, Uzuakoli, Nigeria, 1959-1966, 1952-1966

N. Leprosy Study Centre 1966-1980, 1964-1986

Acquisition note

The first acquisition was transferred to the library at Wellcome Collection in 1989. Accession 2003 was acquired 12/12/2003 and accession 2097 was received 30/06/2014.

Biographical note

Stanley George Browne was born on 8 December 1907 in London, and studied medicine at King's College Hospital, London, graduating in 1933. He combined house appointments at King's with postgraduate study, and became Member, Royal College of Physicians, London in 1934 and Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1935. After being accepted by the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) for work in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), Browne studied French and tropical medicine at the Institute de Médecine Tropicale Prince Léopold, Antwerp, obtaining the Diploma in Tropical Medicine in 1936.

From 1936 to 1959 he worked at the BMS hospital in Yakusu, working to control trypanosomiasis and onchocerciasis in the surrounding area. His rural surveys showed a high incidence of leprosy, and he endeavoured to find the cause and cure for this disease, establishing a leprosarium at Yalisombo. While at the hospital he oversaw an area of 10,000 square miles, in which he developed a programme of community care based on 18 health centres and 36 treatment centres. This pioneering programme became a model in Africa for the control of endemic diseases.

From 1959 to 1966 Browne was Director of the Leprosy Research Unit, Uzuakoli, Eastern Nigeria (becoming known in West Africa as 'Mr Leprosy' and sometimes 'Bonganga'), after which he became Director of the Leprosy Study Centre, London, 1966-1980.

Browne's outstanding skills in leprosy were in great demand throughout the world, and his very many advisory roles included Consultant Advisor in Leprosy, Department of Health and Social Security, 1966-1979, and Medical Consultant to the Leprosy Mission, 1966-1978. Similarly, he was involved with numerous leprosy organisations, including LEPRA (Medical Secretary, 1968-1973, Vice-President, 1984-1986) and the International Leprosy Association (Secretary-Treasurer, 1966-1984, Honorary Vice-President, 1984-1986). His contributions to tropical medicine were recognised by many awards, including the British Medical Association's Stewart Prize for Epidemiology, 1975, the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine's JN Chaudry gold medal, 1978, and the Fellowship of King's College Hospital Medical School, also in 1978. He was awarded the OBE and CMG, and was a Fellow of both the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons.

He was a dedicated and active Christian, and was president of the Christian Medical Fellowship of Great Britain, 1969-1971, and of the Baptist Union 1980-1981. He married Ethel Marion Williamson (known as Mali) in 1940. They had 3 children, Derek (b.1942 ), Alastair (b.1946) and Christopher (b.1947 ). Stanley Browne died on 29 January 1986.

For further biographical material on Browne see his obituaries in The Lancet, 22 Feb 1986, p 455 and the British Medical Journal, vol 292, 15 Feb 1986, p 491; Munk's Roll, vol 8, p 59; and Who Was Who, 1981-1990, p 98. See also his curriculum vitae in Section A of this archive, (A.4). Section L comprises files relating to the following published biographies of Browne: Bonganga: experiences of a missionary doctor, Sylvia and Peter Duncan (1958); Mister Leprosy, Phyllis Thompson (1980); The Battle Against Leprosy - The Story of Stanley Browne, Nancy Martin (1985). The Wellcome Library holds copies of all three publications. Papers relating to the family history research Browne undertook in the late 1970s and early 1980s provides further biographical and background information (see A.25)

A list of the main points and events in the life and career of Stanley Browne can be found in the hard copy catalogue in the Rare Materials Room of the Wellcome Library.

Related material

Material held by Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library: see Sources Leaflet No. 11 'Tropical Medicine', and Western Manuscripts Subject Guides No. 4 'Africa' and No.6 'Asia.'

Material held elsewhere: London University School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine holds further papers of Browne (lecture notes and papers on leprosy, c1960-1969).

Copyright note

Copyright assigned to the Wellcome Trust Copyright assigned to Trustees of Wellcome Trust when material originally give to the WTI in 1987

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.

Location of duplicates

The following photographs are held by Wellcome Images: WTI/SGB/A.11/3 (temp. ref), Souvenir programme of the Baptist Missionary Society, L39130, L39131, L39132 WTI/SGB/B.2/5/3 (temp. ref), Hand-drawn map of Yakusu, Belgian Congo, drawn by Stanley Browne, L39133 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/1, Negative 1: Yakusu hospital, Belgian Congo, L39119 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/1, Negative 2: Medical school, Yakusu, Belgian Congo. Group portrait, L39120 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/1, Negative 3: Teaching laboratory, Yakusu hospital, Belgian Congo. Students in laboratory, L39121 & L44616 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/1, Negative 18: Yalisombo leper camp. Group in front of Nqwaka, L39122 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/1, Negative 21: Leper camp workers, Yakusu, Belgian Congo, L39123 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/1, Negative 22: Baby leper camp, Yakusu, Belgian Congo, L39124 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/2, Yalisombo welcome - large welcoming party group of people, L39125 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/2, Cochrane leaving Yalisambo camp, Belgian Congo, L39126 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/2, Leper camp laboratory from river, Belgian Congo, L39127 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/2, Yalisombo from the air, L39128 WTI/SGB/K.3/1/2, Leper camp from river, Belgian Congo, L39129

Ownership note

The first acquisition of records (WTI/3) was given to the Wellcome Tropical Institute in 1987 by Dr Derek Browne, Stanley Browne's son. They were transferred to the Wellcome Library from the Wellcome Tropical Institute on its closure in 1989. The publication Health & the developing world by John Bryant (1969), which accompanied the archive, was transferred at that time to the Wellcome Library's printed collection. A substantial second accession was presented to the Wellcome Library by Derek Browne in 2003 (Acc.1209). Accession 2097 was sent to the Wellcome Library by Derek Browne in June 2014 (Annual Reports of the Leprosy Research Unit, Uzuakoli, Eastern Nigeria, 1958-1960.

Permanent link


Accession number

  • WTI/3
  • 1209
  • 2097