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Reference PP/HPH
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Level Collection
Extent 13 boxes
Title Himsworth, Sir Harold Percival
Date 1914-1993
Ordering Instructions This archive record describes a grouping of orderable items: to order any of them for consultation, order copies or view them if they have been digitised, navigate down the archive hierarchy to Item level.
Name Himsworth, Sir Harold Percival, 1905-1993.

The collection is roughly split between Sir Harold Himsworth's scientific career and his subsequent role within the Medical Research Council. Section A, entitled 'Laboratory notes' is a compilation of Sir Harold Himsworth's experimental work on diabetes and liver function and disease. Series 1 and 2 comprise his experimental notebooks on experiments carried out on animal and human subjects. Some of the records in A/2 have therefore been restricted or closed to due the sensitive nature of the material regarding the human subjects. Series 3 entitled 'Research papers' is a mixture of experimental notes, calculations and notes which again has been restricted due to sensitive content. The final part of section A, 'Collected Articles' is a series of published academic articles written by Himsworth which cover both his experimental work and his role within the Medical Research Council.

Section B relates to his role as Secretary of the Medical Research Council from 1949 to 1968. The bulk of this section is comprised of collected annual reports from this era along with specialist publications on the affect of nuclear weapons and another on CS gas that Himsworth was actively involved in producing. The rest of the series is comprised of memorandum, correspondences and related articles associated with his role as secretary of the MRC. Additionally, B/4 is a series of notes that Himsworth compiled whilst touring the African MRC stations in 1951.

Section C covers all the collected papers regarding the Northern Ireland enquiry on the affect of CS gas launched after the public outcry of the use of the gas in Londonderry in 1968. This section contains correspondence that Himsworth received and sent debating the toxicity of the gas, with several letters and enquiries being received from the US and France relating to its use within the Vietnam conflict and the Paris Riots. There is a full series of official minutes from the committee and a large assortment of scientific articles relating to CS gas with a separate section relating to French research and reports.

Section D entitled 'Social Science Research Council' is the collected papers, minutes and itineraries relating to the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Warwick Conference, 1968. Amongst the reports there are several review papers on the state of anthropology, sociology and psychology research in Britain.

Section F comprises of 'University College Hospital: War Time Reforms to Medical Education' with papers, reports, articles and correspondences related to Sir Harold Himsworth's interest and campaign to reform medical education during the first few years of the Second World War.

The last section, G, is a general assortment of items that were personally collected by Sir Harold Himsworth. G/1 is split between medical history articles and miscellaneous scientific articles; G/2 are the collected obituaries that Himsworth collected over his lifetime; G/3 are draft and printed public addresses by Sir Harold and the final item is a copy of his philosophical publication Scientific Knowledge and Philosophical Thought .


Section A: Laboratory Notes 1925-1986

A/1 Laboratory notebooks relating to diabetes research on animal subjects

A/2 Laboratory notebooks relating to diabetes research on human test subjects

A/3 Research papers

A/4 Collected articles

Section B: Medical Research Council 1939-1971

B/1 Annual Reports produced when Sir Harold Himsworth was Secretary of the MRC

B/2 Organisational memoranda

B/3 Research organisation papers

B/4 Notes of tour of African MRC stations

Section C: Northern Ireland enquiry 1967-1973

C/1 Northern Ireland enquiry: Correspondence

C/2 Northern Ireland enquiry: Minutes

C/3 Northern Ireland enquiry: Press Cuttings

C/4 Northern Ireland enquiry: Articles

C/5 Northern Ireland enquiry: Related Books

C/6 Northern Ireland enquiry: French Research and Correspondence

C/7 Northern Ireland enquiry: Street Plan of Londonderry

Section D: Social Science Research Council 1967-1968

Section E: 'Sociology and Medicine' article produced by Sir Harold Himsworth in retirement with draft versions and correspondence relating to the article. 1981-1983

E/1 Sociology and Medicine article, including correspondence and literature'

E/2 'Sociology and Medicine article, including correspondences'

E/3 Sociology and Medicine article

E/4 Final Draft of Social Medicine and Sociology, or Epidemiology, Genetics and Sociology, including revisions

Section F: University College Hospital: wartime reforms to medical education 1914-1968

F/1 Papers and Reports

F/2 Correspondence

F/3 Related articles

Section G: Collected material 1928-1993

G/1 Articles

G/2 Obituaries

G/3 Addresses

G/4 Publications

Historical Background

Sir Harold Percival Himsworth KCB FRS FRCP (1905-1993), medical scientist and administrator, was born in Huddersfield and gained a scholarship to King James's Grammar School in 1916. He was removed from the school by his parents at sixteen and worked at a worsted mill before his parents agreed for him to continue his education. He went on to obtain an MB with distinction at the University of London and after moving onto the medical science faculty at University College London he qualified, gaining a university medal, and obtained his MD in 1930. In 1930 he joined the medical unit at University College Hospital becoming deputy director in 1936, and director and professor of medicine in 1939. He became a member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in 1948 and its secretary in 1949. He became deputy chairman in 1967 and retired in 1968. He was appointed KCB in 1952 and elected FRS in 1955. From 1969 to 1976 he was chairman of the board of management of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1974-1976 he was prime warden of the Goldsmiths' Company.

During his career Himsworth made major contributions in two fields. The first was research in clinical medicine, leading to sixty-one publications, in particular in relation to diabetes and liver disease. In his work on diabetes he gave one of the earliest and clearest descriptions of two types of diabetes and he developed a test to distinguish between them, one type being due to lack of insulin and controllable by the administration of insulin, the other not associated with lack of insulin and not responsive to its administration. The other major field in which he worked was that of experimental liver damage, whether due to malnutrition, to poisons such as trinitrotoluene or carbon tetrachloride, or to viral infections.

Himsworth's second major contribution was as secretary of the MRC. He held this post at a time when there was a great demand for money for medical research and the government was willing to provide it without any interference with the scientific policies of the council. For most of his time as secretary he reported to the lord president of the council, a minister of high standing without departmental responsibilities. He was able to grasp the importance of all kinds of research from fundamental areas such as molecular biology to the interface between medicine and the social sciences, and had a fair understanding of every field.

After retirement Himsworth had more time for fishing and walking, but was often called on for advice. He was invited to inquire into the use of CS gas in Northern Ireland, and with colleagues he recruited he came to the conclusion that while it was a potent respiratory irritant it was not a systemic poison. He also wrote several books about research with a philosophical bias.

Acquisition Details Presented by Professor Richard Himsworth, March 1994.
Accession Number 502
Access Status Certain restrictions apply
Access Conditions

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material. Section A contains a number of exceptions to these conditions. Several files contain confidential material- mainly sensitive medical information of patients involved in Sir Harold Himsworth's studies, which have been closed or had access restricted. SEE Section A Access Conditions for further details and SEE file descriptions for specific closure and restriction dates. The following list contains the references of the items that have been closed or restricted:











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Subject Disease
Subject Diabetes Mellitus
Subject Health Services Administration
Subject Physiology
Subject Education, Medical
Subject o-Chlorobenzylidenemalonitrile
Subject Animal Experimentation
Subject Liver Diseases
MaterialType Archives - Non-digital
System No. 7d33803a-dfff-4a7a-b424-da81c758cc04