Wellcome, Henry Solomon, personal papers of

Reference code(s): GB 0120 WA/HSW
Held at: Wellcome Library
Domain: archival
Title: Wellcome, Henry Solomon, personal papers of
Date(s) of contents: 1800-1985
Level of description: Collection
Extent and medium: 90 boxes and 20 outsize boxes


Name of creator(s):

Administrative/Biographical history: Several biographies of HSW have been published and readers are referred to these for further details. The most extensive is Robert Rhodes James, 'Henry Wellcome', London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1994.
Biographical outline of Henry Wellcome:
1853 Born, Almond, Wisconsin, USA
1861 Wellcome family moves to Garden City, Minnesota where HSW attends school
1870 Job with Poole and Geisinger, pharmaceutical chemists, Rochester, USA
1872 Moves to Chicago; works and attends lectures at College of Pharmacy, Chicago
1873 Moves to Philadelphia
1874 Graduates from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy; dissertation about urethral suppositories
Pharmaceutical representative for Caswell, Hazard & Co, New York
1876 Pharmaceutical representative for McKesson & Robins, New York
1878 Expedition to Ecuador and Peru, study of cinchona forests
1879 Offer of partnership from Silas Burroughs, working for Wyeth & Co in London
1880 May Leaves USA for Europe
Sep Signs partnership with Burroughs to found Burroughs Wellcome & Co in London
Ships his 'library and museum' to London from USA
1881 Opens head quarters at Snow Hill, City of London
1882 Meets May French Sheldon, African traveller
1883 Begins manufacture of drugs in Wandsworth
1884 Coins 'Tabloid' trademark for pills
Meets Henry Stanley, explorer; provides him with Burroughs Wellcome travelling medicine chest
1885 Becomes Freemason
Awarded Bronze Medal of Royal Humane Society for saving a woman from drowning in the Thames
1886 Sydney branch of Burroughs Wellcome & Co opens, followed after 1900 by branches in Cape Town, Milan, New York, Montreal, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Bombay
Publishes 'The Story of Metlakhatla', in support of William Duncan's missionary work with Native Americans
1888 Burroughs launches unsuccessful legal action to dissolve partnership
New factory built in Dartford
1894 Wellcome Physiological Research laboratory opened at Charlotte Street, London
1895 Burroughs dies; HSW gains sole control of the company
1896 CJS Thompson employed to research history of medicine and collect objects and books
Wellcome Chemical Research Laboratories opened. Frederick Belding Power as Director
Ends involvement with Freemasonry
1901 Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratories, Khartoum, established. Andrew Balfour as Director
Marries Syrie Barnardo
1903 Mounteney Henry Wellcome born
Systematic collecting begins for the planned Historical Medical Exhibition
Honorary degree from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy
1907 Wellcome Floating Laboratory on the Nile established
Motor car tour of France, Spain, Portugal
1909 Separation from Syrie
1910 Naturalisation as a British subject
Archaeological excavations begin at Gebel Moya, Sudan
1913 Wellcome Bureau of Scientific Research, London opened. Andrew Balfour as Director
Historical Medical Exhibition opens, Wigmore Street. Renamed Historical Medical Museum and re-opened on permanent basis.
1915 Divorce from Syrie
1921 Employs Ada Misner as secretary
1920 Wellcome Entomological Research Laboratories opened
1924 Wellcome Foundation Ltd established
1928 Hon LLD, Edinburgh University
1931 Foundation stone laid for Welcome Research Institution, Euston Road, London
1932 Knighthood
Hon Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons
Fellow, Royal Society
Archaeological excavation begins at Lachish near Jerusalem
Will composed: assets to be left in Trust to further medical research and history
1936 25 Jul Died in London
1987 Memorial plaque in St Paul's Cathedral erected by Wellcome Trustees; ashes interred in St Paul's churchyard

Custodial history: For the most part this collection of papers was inherited by the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre of the Wellcome Institute (now part of the Wellcome Library's Archives and Manuscripts department) at the time of the actual physical separation of the Wellcome Institute from the Wellcome Foundation Ltd at the beginning of 1990. It was in considerable disarray, partly due to the somewhat artificial severance of personal material from the records of business activities, but also due to the papers themselves having been separated and subsequently discovered in different locations within the Wellcome Building.
By the time of cataloguing, a good deal of damage had been done to any archival integrity these papers may once have possessed. At least one important group of papers, HSW's correspondence with Sir HM Stanley and Lady Stanley, and related papers relevant to Stanley and African exploration, was given to the Royal Geographical Society in 1936, presumably subsequent to HSW's death. This was probably not the only section of the papers to receive this rather cavalier treatment. Some papers were also sent for salvage during World War II, but it is not clear what these were.
Furthermore, it would appear that efforts were made to acquire material of biographical interest from members of HSW's family (and possibly also from friends). Documentation on acquisition and disposal is far from complete, and items acquired from other sources do not seem to have been maintained distinct from Sir Henry's own archives. These additions may indeed have commenced prior to HSW's death.
By the time to material arrived at the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre, parts of the collection had also been organised and even indexed, according to somewhat dubious archival principles, although even these apparently organised sequences suffered from anomalies and inconsistencies. In a number of cases, items had not merely been placed in artificial subject conjunctions, but within existing, and presumably closed, files long after HSW's death. Letters had also, in some cases, been removed from correspondence files and inserted, for example, into the Autograph Letters Collection in the Wellcome Institute Library.
In 1991 Lesley Hall undertook a preliminary sort and brief list of the collection in order to make it accessible to HSW's biographer, Robert Rhodes James. At this stage, while it was impossible to reconstitute an original order, except where a particular group of papers had been left more or less intact, scattered material of like nature was, as far as possible, brought together. The arrangement which Dr Hall designed has, in general, been maintained for the preparation of this catalogue.
In 1991 any personal material which had strayed into the Autograph Letters Collection of the Library or the records of the Wellcome Institute, was also retrieved. Conversely, files which had strayed into the collection of personal papers from the records of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum were separated out.
In 1997 some material which had been confused with the records of HSW's business activities was returned by Glaxo-Wellcome and photocopies or microfilms were obtained of material which straddled both interests, the originals of which rem,ain with the Company.

Immediate source of acquisition: Acquired from Sir Henry Wellcome on his death.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection comprises the personal papers of Sir Henry Wellcome. It documents his personal life from early days through his marriage and divorce and the upbringing of his son, to the end of his life. Interests documented include his support for archaeological excavations in Palestine and Sudan, and his support for the missionary William Duncan and his Metlakhatla settlement in Canada. As a result of his holistic vision of his activities, there is also material on Wellcome's pharmaceutical business and his medical musuem project, although the bulk of the papers relating to these are held elsewhere. Also present are papers relating to other members of the Wellcome family, back to 1800.

WA/HSW/ED/A Letters of introduction
WA/HSW/ED/B Correspondence
WA/HSW/ED/C Articles and publications
WA/HSW/LE/A Citizenship and life assurance
WA/HSW/LE/B Administration of affairs
WA/HSW/LE/C Business matters
WA/HSW/LE/D Property
WA/HSW/LE/E Will and estate
WA/HSW/MD/A Marriage
WA/HSW/MD/B Separation and divorce
WA/HSW/CO/Gen General (Misc)
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/A. 1881-1895
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/B. 1895
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/C. Feb 1895-Feb 1896
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/D. Feb-Jul 1896
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/E. Aug-Dec 1896
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/F. American Society Thanksgiving Dinner 1896
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/G. Jan-Apr 1897
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/H. May-Oct 1897
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/J. Nov 1897-Jul 1898
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/K. Aug 1898-Mar 1899
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/L. Apr-Oct 1899
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/M. Nov 1899-Jun 1900
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/N. Jul-Dec 1900
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/P. 1901
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/Q. 1902
WA/HSW/CO/Gen/R. 1903
WA/HSW/CO/Bus/A Business memoranda to Johnson 1901-1902
WA/HSW/CO/Bus/B Microfiche of letter books 1882-1905
WA/HSW/CO/Bus/C Miscelleanous correspondence
WA/HSW/CO/Bus/C.1 Early career
WA/HSW/CO/Bus/C.2 Khartoum 1901-1936
WA/HSW/CO/Bus/C.3 Physiological Research Laboratories 1902-1922
WA/HSW/CO/Bus/C.4 Wellcome Bureau of Scientific Research 1915-1925
WA/HSW/CO/Ind Individual correspondence files
WA/HSW/CO/Ind/A Extended correspondece/biographical files
WA/HSW/CO/Ind/B Personal correspondence
WA/HSW/ME/A. Early Material
WA/HSW/ME/B. 'The Metlakatla Case'
WA/HSW/AR/Jeb Jebel Moya
WA/HSW/AR/Lac Lachish
WA/HSW/AR/Lac/A. Field and Geological Reports
WA/HSW/AR/Lac/B. Correspondence and Administration
WA/HSW/AR/Lac/C. Presscuttings
WA/HSW/AR/Lac/D. Publications
WA/HSW/AR/Lac/E. Photographs
WA/HSW/AR/Lac/F. 'Lachish Letters'
WA/HSW/AR/Gen Other
WA/HSW/OR/A. African [Royal African] Society
WA/HSW/OR/B. American Society in London
WA/HSW/OR/C. Archaeological Society of Washington
WA/HSW/OR/D. China Publications Fund
WA/HSW/OR/E. Freemasonry
WA/HSW/OR/F. Imperial Vaccination League
WA/HSW/OR/G. Liege International Exhibition
WA/HSW/OR/H. Medical and Educational Mission to Sudan
WA/HSW/OR/J. Nicholls Testimonial Fund
WA/HSW/OR/K Royal College of Surgeons.
WA/HSW/OR/L. Royal Commission on Museums
WA/HSW/OR/M. Royal Geographical Society
WA/HSW/OR/N. Royal Society
WA/HSW/OR/P. Royal Society of Medicine
WA/HSW/OR/Q. Society of Apothecaries
WA/HSW/OR/R. Vermin Repression Society
WA/HSW/OR/S. Subscription lists, ephemera, notes
WA/HSW/PE/A Personalia
WA/HSW/PE/B Posthumous memorabilia


Language: English

Conditions governing access: The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Conditions governing reproduction: Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Finding aids:


Related material: As a result of the complex administrative history of the papers and also of Wellcome's holistic vision of his various enterprises, readers are strongly advised to consult the catalogues of the institutional archives of these activities.
In the Wellcome Library: the archive of the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum is held as WA/HMM. The archive of the Wellcome Foundation Ltd. is currently undergoing cataloguing.


Note: List of Abbreviations:
HME Historical Medical Exhibition
HSW Henry Solomon Wellcome
WARENE Wellcome Archaeological Research Expedition to the Near East.

Date(s) of descriptions:


Personal names
Wellcome | Henry Solomon | 1853-1936

Corporate names