Parkes, Sir Alan Sterling (1900-1990)

  • Parkes, A. S. (Alan Sterling), Sir, 1900-1990
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


These papers were collected from Sir Alan Parkes' home in three accessions in 1985, 1988, and (posthumously) 1991. There was no apparent internal consistency to the materials received in each accession, and a good deal of overlap.

They do not document the whole of Parkes's career, for reasons which he described in Off-beat Biologist: the autobiography of Alan S Parkes (Cambridge: The Galton Foundation, 1985):
"until Sadie Carswell set up an office for me in 1937 such archives as I had were patchy, and in any case were largely dispersed during World War II.... When I retired from the Marshall Chair... a lot of material was thrown out from my departmental office" (Foreword: pages unnumbered).
Thus there are large parts of Parkes' long and active career for which there is little or no record in this archive, although detailed accounts of his life and activities are to be found in Off-beat Biologist and his other autobiographical volume, Biologist At Large: the background to Off-beat Biologist (Published by the Author, 1988). Parkes worked through an epoch-making era in reproductive biology and was fully conscious of this, writing a number of historical survey articles: several were collected in his Sex, Science and Society: Addreses, Lectures and Articles (Newcastl-upon-Tyne: Oriel Press, 1966).

Nonetheless this is a substantial collection with a particular bias to the diverse bodies (official, voluntary, and international) which which Parkes was involved through his interests in reproductive biology, endocrinology, scientific publishing, low-temperature biology, and global population issues (among others). There is a large selection of mostly identified photographs. The papers were found in mostly good order within files/groups, although the overall arrangements was somewhat confused, presumably due to moves. In some cases, material had been removed from files for use in Parkes's memoirs or other writings and had to be reintegrated into the appropriate files. Correspondents were indexed for the convenience of readers: the index is currently available in hard copy on request.



Physical description

14 boxes 2 outsize items


A. Correspondence: colleagues and general, 1935-1988

B. Publications by ASP, 1950s-80s

C. Official bodies, 1930-1970

D. British societies and organisations, 1938-1982

E. International Organisations, 1963-1978

F. Personalia, photographs and tapes

A hard copy index to correspondents is available on request

Acquisition note

These papers were given to the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre by Sir Alan Parkes and collected from his home in March 1985, August 1988, and June 1991.

Biographical note

Sir Alan Sterling Parkes was an endocrinologist and Fellow of the Royal Society. Further detail about his career can be found at the Royal Society's online database of Fellows and in his two autobiographical volumes listed below.

Related material

At Wellcome Collection:

Allied material can be found in the papers of the Eugenics Society (SA/EUG: please note that to consult this collection prior permission from the Galton Institute is required) and the Family Planning Association (SA/FPA). There is some correspondence with Parkes in GC/213 and the papers of CP Blacker, PP/CPB, of Sir William Paton, PP/WDP, and of Marthe Vogt, PP/MLV.

Copyright note

Copyright assigned to the Wellcome Trust

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.



AGM Annual General Meeting

ASP Sir Alan Sterling Parkes

BEMB British Egg Marketing Board

FPA Family Planning Association

IPPF International Planned Parenthood Federation

MRC Medical Research Council

NIMR National Institute for Medical Research

NUTAE Nuffield Unit of Tropical Animal Ecology

SSG Society for the Study of Fertility

WHO World Health Organisation

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Accession number

  • 193
  • 292
  • 380