Zuckerman Archive: Zoological Society of London

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1187 SZ/ZOO
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      45 boxes; 16 sub-series; 7.5 metres

Scope and Content

This series relates primarily to Solly Zuckerman's periods of office as Honorary Secretary and then President of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). It brings together large runs of files originating in Zuckerman's offices at Birmingham University and London Zoo, into which a smaller number from the Cabinet Office and his office at UEA have been integrated.

Surviving papers of Zuckerman's period as Prosector to the ZSL are chiefly to be found in Series SZ/SC, Primatological and Endocrinological Research, 1925-1958, and scattered through the general correspondence in Series SZ/GEN, General Correspondence, 1909-1994. Exceptions include the early correspondence with Julian Huxley, Dr R.E. Rewell, Dr G.M. Vevers, and Berthold Lubetkin in File SZ/ZOO/13, General Correspondence, 1933-1984.

Sub-series SZ/ZOO/8, Revision of Charter and Byelaws, 1942, 1957-1963, relates to proposed changes to the composition of the Fellowship of the ZSL, and its privileges, that Zuckerman put forward soon after assuming the Honorary Secretaryship. Key changes were the institution of a category of Scientific Fellow, with stringent criteria for admission, and the abolition of Fellows-only admission to the Gardens on Sunday mornings. A protracted legal battle ensued, from which Zuckerman and his supporters eventually emerged triumphant.

SZ/ZOO/11 Secretary's Personal Files, 1909-1984, contains:

  • SZ/ZOO/11/1 Administrative Instructions, 1958-1965
  • SZ/ZOO/11/2 Administrative Organisation, 1957-1967
  • SZ/ZOO/11/3 Admission Charges, 1961, 1971-72
  • SZ/ZOO/11/4 Advertising, 1956-1963
  • SZ/ZOO/11/5 Animals, experiments on (FRAME), 1977-79
  • SZ/ZOO/11/6 Attendances, 1959
  • SZ/ZOO/11/7 Attendances - Foreign Zoos, 1957
  • SZ/ZOO/11/8 Bovidae, 1956-57
  • SZ/ZOO/11/9 Chalmers Mitchell Memorial Plaque, 1957
  • SZ/ZOO/11/10 Charollais Cattle, 1957-1960
  • SZ/ZOO/11/11 Children's Country Holiday Fund Ball, 1956-57
  • SZ/ZOO/11/12 Children's Zoo, 1961
  • SZ/ZOO/11/13 City Centre Properties (The Zoo) Ltd, 1961
  • SZ/ZOO/11/14 Colloquia and Seminars (Gordon Hyde), 1958
  • SZ/ZOO/11/15 Conservation Headquarters Appeal, 1963-65
  • SZ/ZOO/11/16 Contract Notes [share transactions], 1956-1965 [in four sub-files]
  • SZ/ZOO/11/17 Controller's Newsletters, 1958
  • SZ/ZOO/11/18 Cotton Terraces, opening 16 May 1963, 1963
  • SZ/ZOO/11/19 Curator of Mammals' Memoranda etc., 1952-58
  • SZ/ZOO/11/20 Development, 1956-1965
  • SZ/ZOO/11/21 Diksie, 1967
  • SZ/ZOO/11/22 Dinner, 10 July 1961, 1961
  • SZ/ZOO/11/23 Dinners, 1957, 1960-1982, 1984
  • SZ/ZOO/11/24 Education Centre Appeal, 1973
  • SZ/ZOO/11/25 Educational Programme, 1956-59, 1962
  • SZ/ZOO/11/26 Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain & Ireland (Zoo Federation), 1965-67, 1969-1971
  • SZ/ZOO/11/27 Gorilla Enquiry, 1956-58
  • SZ/ZOO/11/28 Gorilla -Survival Film, 1973-74
  • SZ/ZOO/11/29 Guide Books from other Zoos, 1927-1930
  • SZ/ZOO/11/30 Hire Cars, 1977-78
  • SZ/ZOO/11/31 Legal Opinions, 1909-1957
  • SZ/ZOO/11/32 Jack Lester, 1954-57 Closed
  • SZ/ZOO/11/33 Medals, 1959-1966, 1980
  • SZ/ZOO/11/34 Oceanarium and Dolphinarium, 1959-1964, 1970
  • SZ/ZOO/11/35 150th Anniversary, 1976
  • SZ/ZOO/11/36 Out-patients Clinic of ZSL Animal Hospital, Regent's Park, 1957
  • SZ/ZOO/11/36 Giant Panda, 1958, 1964, 1966, 1980-83
  • SZ/ZOO/11/37 Public Relations & Marketing, 1964-65
  • SZ/ZOO/11/38 Publications of ZSL, 1956-57, 1961, 1983-84
  • SZ/ZOO/11/39 Queen's Portrait, 1955-56
  • SZ/ZOO/11/40 Rating, 1958-1960
  • SZ/ZOO/11/41 Regulations; Charter & Byelaws, 1928, 1948
  • SZ/ZOO/11/42 Security, 1956
  • SZ/ZOO/11/43 Snowdon Aviary, 1961-67
  • SZ/ZOO/11/44 Staff matters, 1954-58, 1964-65, 1978 Closed
  • SZ/ZOO/11/45 Symposia of the ZSL, 1959-1967 [in three sub-files]
  • SZ/ZOO/11/46 Television, 1955-1967 [in three sub-files]
  • SZ/ZOO/11/47 Traffic, Public Transport, and Car Parking, 1957-58, 1966, 1970-71, 1978 [in two sub-files]
  • SZ/ZOO/11/48 Whipsnade - Lion Pit Accident, 1956
  • SZ/ZOO/11/49 Wines, 1971-73, 1982-83
  • SZ/ZOO/11/50 Zoological Club, 1933, 1937-39, 1946-1966
  • SZ/ZOO/11/51 SZ's Transfer of Securities to ZSL, 1972 Closed
  • SZ/ZOO/11/52 Curiosities, 1940-1950
  • SZ/ZOO/11/53 Historical Notes etc., 1929, 1938, 1942, 1947, 1949

Sub-series SZ/ZOO/12 President's Personal Files, 1977-1984, contains files formerly held in Solly Zuckerman's office at UEA. They relate to his brief, and rather unhappy, tenure of the Presidency of the Zoological Society, 1977-1984. The bulk of the content relates to the parlous financial circumstances in which the ZSL found itself at the beginning of the 1980s. The situation led to approaches to the government for support, for the first time in the Society's history; an independent review of its activities; and the preparation of Operational and Business Plans. The remainder of the sub-series is concerned with changes of personnel and organisation at the executive level following Zuckerman's retirement as Secretary, the choice of a successor to him as President, and the direction in which he felt the ZSL should go after his retirement. File SZ/ZOO/12/11 contains the drafts of a history of the ZSL, 1929-1976, by Eirwen Owen, with a small quantity of related correspondence and a draft index.

The contents of Sub-series SZ/ZOO/13, General Correspondence, 1933-1984, include correspondence with Fellows, members of Council and committees and officers and staff of the ZSL and its Gardens at Regent's Park, London, and Whipsnade, Bedfordshire; scientists in the UK and overseas; members of the public; and benefactors both actual and potential.

Most of the files are slight, but those of Lord Buxton, Sir Charles Dalton, R.N. Fiennes, Miss Gay, Dr Harrison Matthews, Sir Terence Morrison-Scott, Sir Landsborough Thompson, and Miss Eirwen Owen are substantial.

The contents of Sub-series SZ/ZOO/14, Ford Foundation Laboratory of Animal Reproduction, 1960-65, deal with the establishment of this Laboratory following an approach by Zuckerman to Dr Harkavy of the Ford Foundation, who he already knew through a mutual interest in World population problems.The Laboratory was established with an initial grant of $550,000 from the Ford Foundation over its first 15 years, To continue selected aspects of work already carried out on the control of mammalian populations and to develop new projects that will form part of an integrated study of population dynamics and breeding biology in mammals. The Ford Foundation's chief interest at the time was the control of human population growth. By basing the Laboratory at London Zoo, Zuckerman's initial proposal argued, its researchers would be able to exploit the richness of the ZSL's collections and its breeding records, which dated back to 1828. Dr Peter Jewell was appointed the Senior Investigator and the earliest projects involved studies of St Kilda sheep, the Skomer Island vole, and African herbivores.

The Nuffield Institute of Comparative Medicine, to which Sub-series SZ/ZOO/15 relates, is sited at Regent's Park adjacent to the ZSL's Animal Hospital and Pathology Laboratories. The object of the Institute, as Zuckerman explained at the first meeting of The Nuffield Institute Committee, the provisional governing body, on 19 January 1960, was to make full use of the valuable material derived from the various species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and other animals in the Society's Collections for purposes of comparative medical research. Dr L.G. Goodwin was appointed Director of the Institute. The initial Nuffield Foundation Grant met 140, 000 of the estimated 350,000 needed to build and equip the Institute, and the ZSL contributed 110,000. An appeal was launched to raise the remaining 100,000, to be spent on capital equipment. In 1966 SZ successfully negotiated further funding from the Nuffield Foundation towards the running costs of the Institute.

The purpose of the Wellcome Institute of Comparative Physiology, which is the subject of Sub-series SZ/ZOO/16, was to provide facilities to extend research into the physiological mechanisms of reproduction and related subjects beyond that already supported by the Ford Foundation. The ZSL was becoming active in animal breeding and the development of a gene bank of rare breeds, while its collections, which included free-range colonies of wallabies and herds of Chinese water deer and muntjac, enabled studies to progress beyond the traditional confines of domestic and common laboratory animals. An application was submitted to the Wellcome Trust by the ZSL in 1960 for a grant towards the cost of a new building at Regent's Park to house the laboratories and staff needed; the grant, of 60,000, was awarded in 1961.

Administrative / Biographical History

Solly Zuckerman's association with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) dates back to 1928, when he was appointed Prosector (Research Anatomist) to the Society. His reign at Regent's Park, the headquarters of the Society and location of its Zoological Gardens in London, began in 1955 and almost immediately exploded into a confrontation with the Fellowship as he sought to re-invigorate the Society on a firm foundation of scientific rigour. It ended in almost as much controversy, with the Society facing a dire financial situation and experiencing a rapid turnover of senior officers.

In between was a period of sustained development, manifested in new buildings to house animals and birds, and the creation of major research establishments operating under the Society's aegis. Much of this was achieved thanks to Zuckerman's assiduous cultivation of the interest of the Great, the Good, and the Glitterati in the Society and its work. He also initiated the setting-up of a staff pension fund, and widened the range of awards made by the ZSL in recognition of contributions to science and to the work of the Society.


  • SZ/ZOO/1 Council, 1953-1971, 1977-78 [in six files]
  • SZ/ZOO/2 Committees, 1936, 1953-1979 [in 23 files]
  • SZ/ZOO/3 Annual General Meetings, 1956-1965, 1979-1980
  • SZ/ZOO/4 Ordinary General Meetings, 1956-1963
  • SZ/ZOO/5 Special General Meeting, 16.12.64, 1964
  • SZ/ZOO/6 Scientific Meetings, 1946-1968
  • SZ/ZOO/7 Annual Reports, 1956-1964
  • SZ/ZOO/8 Revision of Charter and Byelaws, 1942, 1957-1963 [in 22 files]
  • SZ/ZOO/9 Pension Fund, 1956-1979, 1984-95
  • SZ/ZOO/10 Zoo Restaurants Ltd, 1959-1980
  • SZ/ZOO/11 Secretary's Personal Files, 1909-1984 [in 53 files]
  • SZ/ZOO/12 President's Personal Files, 1977-1984 [in 11 files]. Closed
  • SZ/ZOO/13 General Correspondence, 1933-1984 [in 542 files]
  • SZ/ZOO/14 Ford Foundation Laboratory of Animal Reproduction, 1960-65 [in five files]
  • SZ/ZOO/15 Nuffield Institute of Comparative Medicine, 1959-1980 [in eight files]
  • SZ/ZOO/16 Wellcome Institute of Comparative Physiology, 1960-67, 1979 [in three files]

Access Information

Access to all files is restricted.

Sub-series SZ/ZOO/12 President's Personal Files, 1977-1984, is closed.

Files SZ/ZOO/11/32 Jack Lester, 1954-57; SZ/ZOO/11/44 Staff matters, 1954-58, 1964-65, 1978; SZ/ZOO/11/51 SZ's Transfer of Securities to ZSL, 1972; and SZ/ZOO/15/7, Appointment of Director [of the Nuffield Institute of Comparative Medicine] ,1963, are all closed.

Files of correspondence with members of the Royal Family in SZ/ZOO/13 are closed.