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Alice Stewart (1906-2002)

  • Stewart, Alice (1906-2002)
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Papers of Alice Stewart (nee Naish) relating to her career in epidemiology, especially on effects of low-level radiation, plus some family/personal material (her mother was one of the early women doctors), including letters from William Empson with whom she had an affair enduring over several decades. She worked with John Ryle in the Department of Social Medicine at Oxford and was famously involved in a controversy with Sir Richard Doll over her childhood cancer study conclusions.

The bulk of the papers relate to the later phases of her career from the 1970s onwards, although there is some material relating to her earlier activities. There are substantial amounts of professional correspondence from the 1960s until the time of her death, copious records of her research activities, and numerous files relating to her involvement in lawsuits as an expert witness on vibration sydrome and on the effects of low-dose radiation. Her extensive travels to speak in both academic and other venues, particularly from the 1970s, are well-documented. Her support for organisations and activist groups, local, national and international, concerned about radiation and the environment, is significantly reflected in these papers, including her active engagement with the Women's Protest at Greenham Common. The diverse means by which her ideas were disseminated are also well-documented, including material concerning media and press appearances and interviews as well as attendance at conferences and publication in scholarly journals.



Physical description

104 boxes, 4 oversize boxes


A Personal, career, biographical

B Correspondence:
B.1 British official bodies, institutions, organisations etc
B.2 Other British correspondents
B.3 US correspondence
B.4 Rest of World

C. Vibration Syndrome

D. Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancer, Leukaemia Research and associated projects
D.1 Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancers: general and miscellaneous
D.2 Adult Leukaemia Survey
D.3 Cot Death/Sudden Infant Death
D.4 Ultrasound Survey
D.5 Leukaemia and Down's Syndrome
D.6 Background Radiation
D.7 Later childhood cancer research

E. Hanford

F. Three Mile Island

G. Other research on effects of radiation
G.1 Denver, Rocky Flats
G.2 Atom Bomb Survivors G.3 Marshall Islands (Rongelap Atoll) G.4 Oak Ridge (Tennessee) G.5 Rockwell/Rocketdyne

H. Legal Cases
H.1 UK cases
H.2 North American cases

J. Travel and meetings
J.1 Notes on travel and for meetings, travel diaries, etc: early career
J.2 Itineraries of Foreign Travel
J.3 Lists of Alice Stewart's visits from 1985 onwards
J.4 Visits and meetings in the UK and Ireland, 1980s-1990s
J.5 European visits and meetings, 1980s-1990s
J.6 North American visits and meetings, 1980s-1990s
J.7 Visits and meetings, rest of world, 1980s-1990s

K. Activism and Protest

L. Broadcasting and Press

M. Journals and Publications

N. Unpublished papers

O. Publication referencess

P. Reprints

Q. Work by others

R: Photos and slides
R.1 Photographs
R.2 Slides

Acquisition note

This collection was collected from the Fawler cottage in September and October 2002 as a gift from Stewart's daughter Dr Anne Marshall. Accession 1192, consisting of some material additional to that already in the collection relating to her biography of Stewart, was received from Gayle Greene in 2003.

Biographical note

4 Oct 1906 born Alice Mary Naish, daughter of two doctors, Lucy Naish nee Wellburn, and Arthur Ernest Naish
Studied at Girton College Cambridge and the Royal Free London
1932 Qualified in medicine
1933 Married Ludovick Stewart - 2 children, marriage dissolved in the 1950s 1941 Following practice in London went to Oxford, working with L J Witts and John Ryle on social medicine
1941-1945 Various Medical Research Council projects relating to occupational health and industrial medicine
1946 Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (first woman under 40)
1950 Succeeded John Ryle as Director of the Nuffield Institute of Social Medicine (post downgraded from professor to reader)
Devised her 'visible tape' method of systematic data keeping
1955 Inception of Oxford Childhood Cancer Survey
1956 Published her seminal paper on relationship between x-rays in pregnancy and subsequent malignant disease in the child
1974 Reaching compulsory retirement age, left Oxford for Birmingham, where she continued to work for another 25 years
1975 Went to Hanford with George Kneale to work with Thomas Mancuso on occupational health issues in the nuclear industry
1986 Received the Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm
23 Jun 2002 died

There is an annotated bibliography of her work as at 1987, Half a Century of Social Medicine edited by C Renate Barber and a biography on her by Gayle Green The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation (University of Michigan Press, 1999), as well as entries in the standard works of reference, Munk's Roll of the Royal College of Physicians ,and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (written by her long-time adversary, Sir Richard Doll). There is additional biographical material in this collection in sections PP/AMS/A.4 and A.5

Related material

In Wellcome: Related material can be found in the records of the Medical Women's Federation, SA/MWF, the archives of the Society for Social Medicine (of which Stewart was one of the founders), the archives of the International Epidemiological Association, and the papers of Edward Eric Pochin, PP/EEP. Audiovisual material can be found in the Moving Image and Sound Collections.

Material held elsewhere: The material compiled for the Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancer remains at the University of Birmingham in her former department

Correspondence with and about Stewart in the Rudi Nussbaum Papers held by the Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries among its "Atomic West" collections.

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.

Ownership note

These papers were stored at Stewart's home in Fawler, Oxfordshire, in various parts of the house and in the garage, and a handwritten inventory had been compiled by Klarissa Nienhuys.


  • English

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