Papers and correspondence of Donald Devereux Woods, 1912-1964

Scope and Content

The papers include a full set of Woods's laboratory notebooks for his work in Cambridge, 1933-1939 on bacterial metabolism, and less complete but still useful material documenting his later research at Oxford on folic acid and vitamin B12. The work for which Woods is best known (the determining in 1939 of PAB as an anti-sulphanilomide factor) is documented in folders which assemble the original laboratory notes and other contemporary records as they were used by Woods for an historical lecture at Oxford in 1961. The papers include some material relating to Stephenson and Fildes. Amongst the Stephenson items is the transcript of her 1930 radio broadcast 'Biochemistry: what it is and what it does' which inspired Woods to take up the subject. There are also three letters on salvarsan written to Fildes by P. Erlich in 1912. Most of Woods's own correspondence was destroyed in 1964 after his death.

Administrative / Biographical History

Woods was born at Ipswich and educated at Northgate School, Ipswich and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 1930-1933, graduating with first class honours in Parts I and II of the Natural Sciences Tripos. After graduation he began research with Marjory Stephenson at the Sir William Dunn Institute of Biochemistry, Cambridge. He held a Beit Memorial Fellowship at Cambridge, 1936-1939, and took his Ph.D. in 1937. In 1939 he became Halley-Stewart Research Fellow at the Medical Research Council Unit for Bacterial Chemistry (Director, P.G. Fildes), working at the Middlesex Hospital, London. In 1940 he was seconded for war work to the Biology Section, Chemical Defence Experimental Station, Porton Down, Wiltshire. In 1946 he was appointed Reader in Microbiology in the Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University and in 1955 he became Iveagh Professor of Microbiology in the same Department (first holder of the Chair), a position he held for the rest of his life. His research interests included indole production and bacterial metabolism at Cambridge, the determination of p-aminobenzoic acid (PAB) as an anti-sulphanilomide factor, while working in Fildes's Unit, and folic acid and the metabolism of PAB at Oxford. Woods was elected FRS in 1952.


By section as follows: Biographical and personal, Laboratory notebooks and working papers, Scientific lectures and papers, Correspondence. Index of correspondents.

Access Information

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.

Other Finding Aids

Printed Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Donald Devereux Woods (1912-1964) by J. Alton and J. Latham-Jackson, CSAC catalogue no. 64/2/79, 21 pp. Copies available from NCUACS, University of Bath

Archivist's Note


Custodial History

Received in 1978 by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre from Mrs Alison Woods, widow, and from Woods's colleagues and secretary in Oxford. Placed in Bodleian Library (gift) in 1979.

Related Material

Supplementary material consisting of photographs, correspondence and plans for the Microbiology Unit at Oxford was received from the Librarian of the Biochemistry Department, listed and passed to the Bodleian Library in 1980.