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By | From the Collections

Following last year’s annual archive popularity contest it may be interesting to look at the comparable figures for 2011. This was a year of healthily increasing interest in our collections with rising reader numbers and numbers of productions. It was also gratifying to observe that far more collections were getting at least some research interest during the course of the year; the proportion has now risen to well over half of the collections which are catalogued and available.

The top ten collections were perhaps fairly predictable on past track records: the Royal Army Medical Corps Muniment Collection, the Family Planning Association, the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, the Eugenics Society, Wellcome Foundation, Marie Stopes, Frederick Parkes Weber, the Medical Women’s Federation, C. P. Blacker,  John Bowlby, all of which have built up a significant following over the years. Looking back to early years, in 1980/81 (well before we acquired several of these collections), the Eugenics Society and the Stopes papers were already attracting readers, and ever since the Royal Army Medical Corps Muniment Collection was transferred from the short-lived Wellcome Tropical Institute it has proved very attractive to researchers for the immense range of interests it covers over a span of several centuries.

While probably nobody comes along with the specific intention of researching the work of Frederick Parkes Weber,  this ‘remarkable collection’ contains so much rich material on such a wide range of issues that it routinely proves of significant interest to numbers of our users.

Although the winners of this year’s popularity contest were the usual suspects, there was a good deal of interest developing in a number of other collections, most likely because the material within them is so much more visible via the online catalogue

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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