Papers and correspondence of David Keilin, 1887-1963

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 12 Add. MS 7953
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English, French, Polish, Russian.
  • Physical Description
      23 boxes (orignal deposit) + 8 boxes (second deposit)

Scope and Content

Original material: The papers include over fifty notebooks covering the period 1908-1959, which record Keilin's work on parasitology, cell respiration, cytochromes and related topics, lectures delivered at Cambridge University, drafts for Keilin's publications, and correspondence and reports relating to Parasitology, 1933-1962. There is material belonging to or relating to other scientists including Nuttall, Sir Ronald Ross, research collaborators E.F. Hartree and T.R.R. Mann, and C.A. MacMunn, an early and neglected precursor of Keilin's work on cytochrome. The numerous drawings, mostly by Keilin but including some by Nuttall, are often of a very high quality. His cosmopolitan background and linguistic accomplishments are reflected in the numerous languages used in notebooks, publications and correspondence, including French, German and Polish. Supplementary material: The papers include documentary and photographic records of the early career of Keilin, his wife and other members of their families. There are sequences of letters written to Keilin by his wife from Manchester during the First World War and by his daughter from Leeds during the Second World War when each was pursuing a medical career. There is also material relating to Keilin's long association with the Molteno Institute, Cambridge, and drafts and correspondence for the posthumously published History of cell respiration and cytochrome which became a key text in the field.

Administrative / Biographical History

Of Russian-Jewish extraction Keilin was born in Moscow and brought up in Warsaw where he was educated at the Gorski Gymnasium, 1897-1904. He was a student at the Sorbonne and began his research career in Paris working with Maurice Caullery in the Laboratoire d'Evolution des Etres Organiss, on Pollenia Rudis. In 1915 at the invitation of G.H.F. Nuttall he moved to Cambridge University where he remained for the rest of his life. In 1921 he transferred with Nuttall to the newly established Molteno Institute of Parasitology, being appointed Lecturer in Parasitology in 1925 and Quick Professor of Biology and Director of the Molteno Institute (in succession to Nuttall), 1931-1952. He was editor of the journal Parasitology, 1934-1963. He received many honours but travelled very little as he was a lifelong sufferer from asthma. Keilin began his scientific career as an entomologist and parasitologist, and retained his interest in these subjects throughout his working life in addition to his developing concentration on the biochemistry of cell respiration and cytochrome. He was elected FRS in 1928 (Croonian Lecture 1934, Leeuwenhoek Lecture, 1958, Royal Medal 1939, Copley Medal 1951).


By section as follows: Biographical, Address books, Bibliographies, Working notebooks, Cambridge University, Publications, Conferences, Correspondence, Drawings, Historical material. Index of correspondents.

Access Information

Access to holders of full Reader's Tickets for Cambridge University Library.

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogues of the papers and correspondence of David Keilin (1887-1963): CSAC catalogue no. 3/73, 22 pp, by J. Alton and H. Weiskittel and CSAC catalogue no. 118/9/86, 35 pp, by J. Alton and P. Harper. Copies of both available from NCUACS, University of Bath.

Custodial History

Original material received for cataloguing in 1973 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Dr Joan Whiteley, daughter. Deposited in Cambridge University Library in 1973.Supplementary material received for cataloguing in 1986 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Dr Joan Whiteley. Deposited in Cambridge University Library in 1986.