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:
- UGC 188/3/1, correspondence from 1959-1961;
- UGC 188/3/2, correspondence from 1961-1964;
- UGC 188/3/3, correspondence from 1965-1975;
- UGC 188/3/4, correspondence from 1976-1980;
- UGC 188/3/5, correspondence from 1981-1983;
- UGC 188/3/6, correspondence from 1984-1987;
- UGC 188/3/7, correspondence from 1987-1998;
- UGC 188/3/8, correspondence from 1998-2002;
- UGC 188/3/9, correspondence with Victor Almon McKusick;
- UGC 188/3/10, correspondence with Jennifer A Marshall Graves;
- UGC 188/3/11, references and recommendations.