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Professor R A Soloway

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14/08/2009

By | From the Collections

We in Archives and Manuscripts were saddened to learn this week of the death of Professor Richard Allen Soloway, Eugen Merzbacher Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a longstanding reader in our holdings. Professor Soloway was a distinguished historian of the British eugenics movement, birth control, and demography, after having had earlier careers in journalism and aviation. He produced two outstanding works: Birth control and the population question in England, 1877-1930 (1982) and Demography and degeneration: eugenics and the declining birthrate in twentieth-century Britain (1990), which remain definitive studies on these topics, as well as several important articles on particular facets. His knowledge in these areas was extensive and based in solid archival research. He visited the Wellcome many times following his first visit to what was then the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre in 1983, mainly to consult the archives of the Eugenics Society and the Family Planning Association and the papers of C. P. Blacker, General Secretary of the Eugenics Society, and was an exemplar of good archival research practice. He was latterly working on a history of contraceptive research in Britain in the early twentieth century, although his responsibilities as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences somewhat curtailed his opportunities for pursuing this project. His works also included the influential Prelates and people: ecclesiastical social thought in England, 1783-1852 (1969). He was a fine scholar and always ready to advise and support other scholars and students. He will be much missed.

Lesley Hall

Lesley Hall

Lesley Hall, FRHistS, PhD, DipAA, has been an archivist at the Wellcome since 1979. She has published extensively on the history of sexuality and gender in Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries, given many talks and conference presentations, and featured on radio and television. Further details can be found at her website.

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