Papers of Malcolm Andrew Ferguson-Smith, correspondence

Scope and Content

The Malcolm Ferguson-Smith collection is dominated by a very substantial correspondence section. The main sequences of letters 1959-2002, both incoming and outgoing, are organised following Ferguson-Smith's own arrangement; chronologically by group of years and then alphabetically within each group.

This chronological correspondence records the full range of Ferguson-Smith's activities at Glasgow and from 1987 at Cambridge as university academic, as genetic consultant advising doctors and patients, and as director of a major medical genetics service serving millions of people. It is consequently very diverse. There is correspondence with scientific colleagues, including Cedric O Carter, John Hilton Edwards, Alan Eglin Heathcote Emery, Charles Edmund Ford, Maj Anita Húlten and Victor Almon McKusick; prospective and former researchers; with university and hospital colleagues; with doctors in general practice, patients and worried parents or would-be parents; with charities supporting his research, most prominently Action Research for the Crippled Child and the Scottish Spina Bifida Association; with societies and organisations, including the Clinical Genetics Society, the Royal College of Pathologists and a number of local groups to whom Ferguson-Smith gave talks on medical genetics and genetic counselling (and who would often raise money to support the service); with publishing houses; and so on. There is also administrative correspondence with the University of Glasgow, and later the University of Cambridge, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Greater Glasgow Health Board on topics ranging from future planning to maintenance of office equipment.

Through this correspondence one can see changes in diagnostic techniques and technological advances in medical genetics, in attitudes to genetic counselling and how the regulatory climate and staffing crises and ethical considerations affected the service offered. There is also a little correspondence with Victor Almon McKusick found separately, and a sequence of correspondence with J M Graves and colleagues on collaborative projects on comparative genomics of platypus, echidna and various marsupials. At UGC188/3/11/1/1-9 are references and recommendations.

As the Malcolm Ferguson Smith correspondence section is particularly large it has been divided into the following series, each with its own separate description:

Administrative / Biographical History

Malcolm Andrew Ferguson-Smith (1931- ) is a celebrated geneticist whose work on gene mapping has shaped our understanding of human evolution. Ferguson-Smith graduated MB, ChB in 1955 and was appointed a lecturer in Medical Genetics at the University in 1961. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1965 , a Reader in 1971, and Professor of Medical Genetics in1973. He was also Honorary Consultant in Medical Paediatrics at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children from 1966 and in Clinical Genetics at Yorkhill and Associated Hospitals from 1973 to 1987. In 1987, Ferguson-Smith left Glasgow to become Professor of Pathology and Professorial Fellow at Peterhouse College, Cambridge. He was also Director of the Cambridge University Centre for Medical Genetics from 1989. For a complete biography see the Malcolm Andrew Ferguson-Smith collection description.


The main sequences of letters 1959-2002 are organised into series following Ferguson-Smith's own arrangement; chronologically by group of years and then alphabetically within each group. The files described below are arranged into separate folders which contain loose pages of correspondence and related papers.

This description is part of the main Malcolm Andrew Ferguson-Smith collection which has been divided into the following sections, each with its own separate description:

Access Information

Some files in this collection are subject to Data Protection legislation as they identify patients and contain sensitive information. These records will not be fully accessible to the public until 100 years from the date on each file. However, they may be accessible to bona fide researchers and academics. Please contact the Duty Archivist for advice on how to apply for access to these files. Contact details are as follows: Duty Archivist, Archive Services, University of Glasgow, 13 Thurso Street, Glasgow, G11 6PE.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives,ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives,Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Sub-fonds level description compiled by Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), September 2010. Lower level description originally compiled by Timothy E Powell, Heather Bird and Simon Coleman from the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, University of Bath, in 2008 and later edited by Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), September 2010. Catalogue converted to Encoded Archival Description by Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), September 2010.