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Vaughan, Dame Janet

  • Vaughan, Dame Janet, 1899-1993
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Small group of papers, mainly 1939-1949, including material on her work with the Emergency Blood Transfusion Service, social and industrial medicine and post-War medical services, child guidance, Health Survey and Development Committee in India, and treating sufferers from starvation liberated from Belsen.



Physical description

1 box The organisation of the files as listed in the Wellcome Unit Oxford Research Publication No. VII Handlist of Public Health Records Section PH/9 has undergone some alteration and they have been assigned references which conform to CMAC house style

Acquisition note

These papers were transferred to the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre in July 1996 from the Wellcome Unit, Oxford, to which they had been given in 1984 by Dame Janet. While this group of files is small and rather sparse in terms of her long, important, and diverse career, and covers mainly the years 1939-1949 (with a few later annotations), there are a number of other collections of her papers in existence, although she reported having made 'vast bonfires of my laboratory records' on moving from a large house to a small flat.

Biographical note

Dame Janet had a distinguished career in medicine during the interwar years, developing a standard treatment by liver for pernicious anaemia, and was a pioneer of the wartime Blood Transfusion Service, following her experiences in this field during the Spanish Civil War. She was also part of the team providing experimental food supplements to Belsen shortly after its liberation. Both these aspects of her career are reflected in these files. In 1945 she was elected Principal of Somerville College and continued to have an active career both as a scientist, working on the biological effects of nuclear radiation, and as an administrator. She was a persistent campaigner for equal pay and status for women.

There is correspondence with George Minot in the Countway Library at Harvard University and some materials at Somerville College Oxford. Important aspects of her career are reflected in the archives of the Nuffield Foundation, of which she was a trustee for many years, and in the records of the Goodenough Committee (the Interdepartmental Committee for Medical Education) in the Ministry of Health records in the Public Record Office. She was also on a number of other Royal Commissions, government committees, and public bodies and their records would additionally reflect facts of her career.

Numerous obituaries appeared following her death in January 1993 in the general press as well as in more specialist journals. Janet Maria Vaughan: A Memorial Tribute produced by Somerville is held with the Biographical Pamphlets in the Wellcome Institute Library and there is a memoir in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 41, 1995: this used material from an unpublished autobiographical memoir, 'Jogging Along', written for her children, which remains in family hands.

Related material

An additional file of correspondence between Dame Janet and Audrey Glauert of the Strangeways Research Laboratory during 1986-87, about the Royal Society Biographical Memoir of Dame Honor Fell, was given to the CMAC by Dr Glauert in December 1998. Dame Honor's papers are held in the CMAC (PP/HBF) as are the archives of the Strangeways (SA/SRL). Further material on the Health Survey and Development Committee, India, 1944-1945, can be found among the papers of Sir Weldon Dalrymple-Champneys (CMAC: GC/139), and readers interested in the Emergency Blood Transfusion Service and the liberation of Belsen are referred to Sources Leaflet no.7 'War, Medicine and Health Post 1920'.

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