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Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics

Digitised archives

The papers of twenty two scientists and organisations have been digitised for this research resource. Find out which archives are available online.

Twenty two archive collections relating to genetics research and biochemistry have been digitised. The content ranges in date from 1863 to 2008, and includes collections from Wellcome Library and our partner institutions. 

Carlos Paton Blacker

Carlos Blacker was a decorated war hero and psychiatrist who as its General Secretary from 1931 to 1952 gave the Eugenics Society a new focus on birth control and population planning.

The Carlos Paton Blacker papers

Sydney Brenner

With Francis Crick, Sydney Brenner laid much of the groundwork for our understanding of how cells read the genetic code.

The Sydney Brenner papers

Alan Coulson

Alan Coulson helped to establish techniques that laid the foundations for the science of genomics.

The Alan Coulson Papers

Francis Crick

By discovering (with James Watson) the double helix of DNA, and helping to crack its code, Francis Crick laid the foundations of modern molecular biology.

The Francis Crick papers

Eugenics Society

The archive of the Eugenics Society provides a unique perspective on changing social attitudes towards birth and breeding during the 20th century.

The Eugenics Society archive

Honor Fell

Honor Fell pioneered the study of living cells under the microscope, and provided Francis Crick with his first biological research project.

The Honor Fell papers

Malcolm Ferguson-Smith

Malcolm Ferguson-Smith was one of the first geneticists to provide a diagnostic and counselling service to patients with genetic conditions.

The Malcolm Ferguson-Smith papers

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin was a brilliant X-ray crystallographer whose photograph of a fibre of DNA was critical to James Watson and Francis Crick's discovery of the double helix.

The Rosalind Franklin papers

Francis Galton

Francis Galton was an accomplished figure in late 19th century science. Known chiefly for his work on heredity and eugenics, he also made important contributions to fields such as forensics and statistical methods.

The Francis Galton Papers

Hans Grüneberg

The 'father of mouse genetics', Hans Grüneberg pioneered the laboratory mouse as a model for the study of genetic disorders in humans.

The Hans Grüneberg papers

J B S Haldane

J B S Haldane united Darwin's theory of evolution with Mendel's laws of inheritance, and was one of the most colourful figures in 20th-century genetics.

The J B S Haldane papers

Peter Medawar

Peter Medawar was one of the founders of transplantation immunology, showing for the first time that grafts between one individual and another might be possible.

The Peter Medawar papers

Medical Research Council Blood Group Unit

Blood groups are one of the most scientifically accessible examples of human genetic variability. The Medical Research Council Blood Group Unit was the earliest to systematically explore the inheritance of blood types.

The Medical Research Council Blood Group Unit archive

Arthur Mourant

Arthur Mourant (1904-1994) extended our knowledge of the variety of human blood groups, and documented their worldwide distribution.

The Arthur Mourant papers

Lionel Penrose

Lionel Penrose pioneered the genetic study of learning disabilities, and sought to distance the study of human genetics from its eugenic origins.

The Lionel Penrose papers

Guido Pontecorvo

At the University of Glasgow, Guido Pontecorvo led an international centre for genetics research, pioneering the study of genetics in fungi and cultured mammalian cells.

The Guido Pontecorvo papers

Robert Race and Ruth Sanger

Robert Race and Ruth Sanger were a husband-and-wife team who advanced the science of blood groups and were pioneers in the mapping of human genetic variation.

The Robert Race and Ruth Sanger papers

James Renwick

James Renwick pioneered the use of statistical techniques and genetic markers to map human disease genes, and was among the first to use computers to locate genetic disorders.

The James Renwick papers

Frederick Sanger

Fred Sanger developed techniques that first made it possible to read the sequences of proteins and nucleic acids, the key components of life.

The Frederick Sanger papers

James Watson

James Watson combined his expertise in genetics with Francis Crick's understanding of complex molecular structures to crack the biggest biological problem of the 20th century: the structure of DNA.

The James Watson papers

Maurice Wilkins and the Medical Research Council Biophysics Unit

Maurice Wilkins began the studies on the crystalline structure of DNA that ultimately led to the discovery of the double helix by James Watson and Francis Crick.

Maurice Wilkins and Medical Research Council Biophysics Unit archive

Gerard Wyatt

Gerard Wyatt (b. 1925) is a Canadian biochemist who played a small but important role in the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA.

The Gerard Wyatt papers

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