Correspondence of Professor Reginald Dawson Preston, including some related material

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 206 MS 1718
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      4 boxes; manuscript, typescript, photographs, postcards, press cuttings, and printed material (some photocopy). Includes a greetings card, a portrait photograph of Professor Preston, and a few legal documents.

Scope and Content

Comprises the professional and academic correspondence of Professor Preston from pre-Second World War days until 17 August 1995, including related printed items, such as offprints of his own and other scholars' articles and reviews, issues of academic (largely scientific) journals, largely typescript drafts of lectures and articles, references on behalf of fellow-scientists, copies of his own curriculum vitae, technical photographs, and a few contracts with publishers. Under his own name are included several personal certificates, a portrait photograph of himself, and a few legal documents, the earliest of which is dated originally as 14 December 1897.

Administrative / Biographical History

Professor Reginald Dawson Preston, the biophysicist, was born in Leeds on 21 July 1908. He spent all of his academic career at Leeds University apart from a one-year Rockefeller Foundation fellowship at Cornell University. He graduated from Leeds with first class honours in Physics before taking a Ph.D. in the Department of Botany. He was then appointed Assistant Lecturer and Demonstrator in the latter department in 1935, was promoted to Lecturer in 1938, to Reader in Plant Biophysics in 1948, and to Professor of Plant Biophysics in 1962. In the early years of his career, he had collaborated with Professor W.T. Astbury and, following Astbury's death, the Plant Biophysics group of Preston was joined with the Biomolecular Structure group of Astbury to form the Astbury Department of Biophysics, with Preston as its first head. He was recognised as an international authority on the molecular structure of plant cell walls and other physical aspects of plant physiology and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1954. As a widely-respected elder statesman, Preston was always in demand to chair committees both within the University and elsewhere. He chaired the University Library committee and was president of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. Preston retired from the university in 1973 and died on 3 May 2000 at the age of 91.


The collection is arranged in a single alphabetical sequence by the names of the correspondents. Named societies and colleges are often treated as the filing index for a group of correspondence. The file labelled 'L2' contains some selected correspondence which is not strictly part of the overall alphabetical order.

Access Information

Access is unrestricted.

Acquisition Information

The gift of Tony Nelson, Professor Preston's son-in-law, 10 March 2004.


Almost entirely in English.