Colebrook, Leonard, FRS, FRCOG, FRCS (1883-1967), bacteriologist

  • Colebrook, Leonard, 1883-1967.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Diaries, research notebooks, writings and photographs, 1900-1967.



Physical description

6 boxes


A Diaries

B Research notebooks

C Correspondence and writings

D Publications on the control and treatment of infection

E Photographs

Acquisition note

These papers were given to the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre in February 1993 by the Royal College of Pathologists.

Biographical note

Leonard Colebrook's work was chiefly concerned with the control of the spread of infection in hospitals and the treatment of infected wounds. During the First World War he worked in Boulogne with Sir Almroth Wright, and advocated using the patient's inborn resistance to fight infection in wounds, using hypertonics rather than antiseptics which he argued were too harmful to the patient's tissues. In 1930 he was appointed to Queen Charlotte's Hospital where he developed the use of sulphonamides in the treatment of puerperal sepsis. In 1939, as bacteriologist to the Army in France, Colebrook introduced the dusting of wounds with sulphonamide powder, which greatly reduced the incidence of sepsis. In 1940 he joined an MRC team working on septicity of burns and scalds, and in 1943 went on to organise the burns unit at the Birmingham Accident Hospital, creating special dressing rooms with filtered air and near sterile conditions. After his marriage in 1946 he and his wife, Vera, embarked on a campaign leading to the passage of the Fireguards Act in 1952, and continued to campaign for non-flammable night clothing. In 1954 Colebrook's biography of Almroth Wright was published.

Related material

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists holds an album of charts illustrating temperature and pulse of participants in the first trials of 'the sulpha drugs' (red prontosil and sulpanilamide) in puerperal fever (chiefly haemolytic streptococci), with accompanying notes and a brief introduction, 1936-1937. The album was created by Leonard Colebrook while working in the Research Laboratories and wards of the Isolation Block of Queen Charlotte's Maternity Hospital (Ref: S85).

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.


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

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Accession number

  • 465