Papers of: Godber, Sir George (b 1908)

Scope and Content

Unpublished lectures, articles and reports from Godber's time as Chief Medical Officer onwards form the bulk of this collection, but his wider career is represented by such papers as a draft of his 1944 'Hospital Survey of Sheffield and East Midlands Area' and published articles spanning over 50 years from 1942 to 1995. Although the collection does not include Godber's official papers from his various appointments or his personal papers, it nevertheless conveys a strong impression of his personality, energy and breadth of interests throughout his career. Godber's papers at the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health and Social Security were left almost entirely for his successors, to be transferred as appropriate to the Public Record Office.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir George Godber pursued a distinguished career in health planning and education, and was closely involved in the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS). After training at the London Hospital and the London School of Hygiene, he became a Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health (MoH) in 1939. According to an interview with Anthony Seldon of the British Library of Political and Economic Science (see GB0121 GC/201/D.2), Godber wanted to work in medicine but did not want to take fees from patients. As he felt certain that there would be a National Health Service, he entered public health medicine in order to get into the MoH which, he presumed, would have the task of organising the NHS.

In the early 1940s Godber undertook a survey of hospitals in the Sheffield and Midlands area as part of a series of MoH regional hospital surveys (see GB0121 GC/201/A.4/1 for his draft survey). This work brought him to the heart of the re-organisation of the hospital side of the future health service. In 1950 he became Deputy Chief Medical Officer, MoH, and from 1960 to 1973 he was Chief Medical Officer at the MoH's successor departments, the Department of Health and Social Security, the Department of Education and Science, and the Home Office. Godber was Chairman of the Health Education Council from 1977 to 1978, and became a Fellow of many organisations, including the American Hospital Association and the American Public Health Association. He was appointed Knight Commander Order of the Bath in 1962, and Knight Grand Cross of the Bath in 1971. He married Norma Hathorne Rainey in 1935.


By section as follows: A. Unpublished writings; B. Published writings; C. Ministry of Health/Department of Health and Social Security letters; D. Interviews; E. Cartoons; F. Photographs; G. Reference materials

Access Information

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, by prior appointment with the Archivist after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

These records were given to the Wellcome Library by Sir George Godber in August 1996 (Acc No 663).

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued by Helen Wakely, CMAC, Wellcome Library, July 1999. Hard-copy catalogue available in Wellcome Library.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Helen Wakely

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Related Material

Held by Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library: Papers of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) (SA/ASH), which include correspondence with Godber, 1974-1988 (SA/ASH/C.10) and transcripts of interviews with Godber by William Norman for the latter's book on the political aspects of smoking (SA/ASH/R18); GP/29/4/3, a taped (undated) interview with Godber. The Wellcome Library also holds many collections relating to public health and health education, for further details on which see Sources Leaflets no 12 `Public Health' and no 18 `Health Education/Promotion'. See also Sources Leaflets no 10 `Hospitals'; no 39 `Ethical Questions', in particular the papers of Stephen Lock, editor of the British Medical Journal, 1975-91 (PP/SPL); and no 42 `International Organisations', including material on the World Health Organisation.