Papers and correspondence of John Randal Baker, 1900-1984

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Original material: The papers consist almost entirely of Baker's laboratory research, teaching material and lectures at Oxford University on cytology, histochemistry, and microscopy and microtechnique. Supplementary material: The supplementary papers include research material reflecting his interests in microscopy, chemical contraception, scientific biography (Abraham Trembley of Geneva) and the humane killing of crustacea. The most extensive records relate to anthropology and race, the main interest of Baker's later years, with considerable documentation for his book Race published in 1974 by Oxford University Press.Correspondence about the Society for Freedom in Science, which Baker founded with Polanyi and Tansley, does not form part of the original or supplementary papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Baker was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk and educated at Boxgrove School, Guildford and New College, Oxford where he read zoology. He became Demonstrator in Zoology at Oxford in 1923 and Reader in Cytology in 1955. He took part in several scientific expeditions to the New Hebrides in 1922, 1927 and 1933 and to Ceylon in 1937. In 1940 he founded with M. Polanyi and A.G. Tansley the Society for Freedom in Science which he served as secretary and treasurer for the next twenty-two years. Baker's principal research interests were sexual physiology including pioneering work on contraception, cytology, and in his later years historical and anthropological studies. He was elected FRS in 1958. See E.N. Wilmer and P.C.J. Brunet, 'John Randal Baker', Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 31 (1985), 31-64.

Arrangement

Original material: By section as follows: Research and lectures 1928-1969 on cytology, Research and lectures 1928-1969 on histochemistry, Research and lectures 1928-1969 on microscopy and microtechnique, Publication. Supplementary material: By section as follows: Research and publications, Anthropology and Race, Correspondence, Biographical. Index of correspondents.

Conditions Governing Access

Entry permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card or an Oxford University Card displaying the Bodleian logo. All applicants for new or replacement cards must apply in person, with a recommendation and payment if required, and with proof of their identity. Certain items not available for 30 or 50 years from date of writing.

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogues of papers and correspondence of J.R. Baker: CSAC catalogue no. 69/7/79, 25 pp and CSAC supplementary catalogue no. 114/5/86, 48 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath

Separated Material

Diaries and other material relating to scientific expeditions to the New Hebrides in the 1920s and 1930s are retained by Baker's family. Index cards used by Baker in respect of his work on anthropology and race are preserved at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford.

Custodial History

Original material received for cataloguing in 1977 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Baker. Placed in Bodleian Library (Gift) 1979. Supplementary material received for cataloguing in 1985 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Baker's family. Placed in Bodleian Library (Gift) 1986.