G. A. G. Mitchell Papers

Scope and Content

Professor Mitchell's papers deal mostly with his military service during the Second World War, and includes reports, notes, draft articles and correspondence relating to his research on penicillin and other antibiotic treatments while serving with the Middle Eastern Force and 21 Army Group. These include letters from former patients thanking him for his work, letters from Howard Florey and Alexander Fleming about the development of penicillin, and correspondence relating to an article Mitchell wrote about his former chief, Sir Arthur Porritt, which includes details of their wartime work in 21 Army Group.

Mitchell's papers also include some of his working documents from the International Anatomical Nomenclature Committee (GGM/4).

Administrative / Biographical History

George Archibald Grant Mitchell was born on 11 November 1906 and was educated at Aberdeen University, where he graduated in medicine. He lectured at Aberdeen until the outbreak of the Second World War, working under Professor J R Learmonth.

During the War Mitchell served with the Middle East Force, initially attached to the 15th (Scottish) General Hospital, in charge of orthopaedic centre no.1 in Cairo. He was later officer-in-charge of the surgical division of 42 General Hospital, Middle Eastern Forces. Mitchell was then appointed to undertake field trials with penicillin with the 8th Army during its campaigns in Libya and Italy. In February 1944, Mitchell was appointed adviser in penicillin and chemotherapy for 21 Army Group. The 21 Army Group was a British headquarters formation commanded by Bernard Montgomery, which played an important role in the European campaigns in 1944-5. During his period in the North African theatre, Mitchell developed new antibiotic treatments for wound therapy, and in 1944 he undertook the planning of antibiotic therapies in anticipation of the casualties expected during the invasion of western Europe. Mitchell encouraged the prophylactic use of penicillin, and introduced intramuscular drips to ensure that the drug could be administered continuously. He was appointed OBE for this work in 1945.

In 1946 Mitchell was appointed as professor of anatomy at the University of Manchester, and served in this post until 1974. He was dean of the medical school from 1955 to 1960 and a pro-vice chancellor of the University between 1959 and 1963. At Manchester, Mitchell was known for his work on neuroanatomy and the renal nerves. During the 1950s and 1960s, Professor Mitchell was an active member of the International Anatomical Nomenclature Committee, which devised an agreed medical terminology for anatomy, histology and embryology. Mitchell was president of the Manchester Medical Society and president of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain. He was president of the Third European Anatomical Congress in 1973. He was a member of the board of governors of the United Manchester Hospitals from 1955 to 1974. Mitchell died on 14 April 1993.

Professor Mitchell married Mary Cumming in 1933, who predeceased him. They had three children.


The archive is arranged into the following series:

  • GGM/1 - Wartime reports, memoranda
  • GGM/2 - Correspondence
  • GGM/3 - Other wartime documents
  • GGM/4 - International Anatomical Nomenclature Committee

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader unless otherwise stated.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

Professor Mitchell donated his papers to the Library in 1978.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


None expected.

Related Material

The Manchester Medical Collection includes a biographical file on Mitchell (MMC/2/Mitchell/G).