Papers of: Sharpey-Schafer, Sir Edward Albert (1850-1935)

Scope and Content

Sharpey-Schafer's correspondence is extensive. In addition to his own correspondence it includes papers of William Sharpey, saved by Sharpey-Schafer after his death, 1836-70 and n.d. There are significant numbers of letters from William Sharpey himself, Sir Michael Foster, Sir John Burdon-Sanderson, Sir William Osler, George John Romanes, Sir Victor Horsley, Sir James Paget, Lord Lister, Sir Charles Sherrington, Sir William Gowers, Thomas Henry Huxley, John Newport Langley, Sir Edwin Ray Lankester, Ernest Henry Starling, Allen Thomson, Sanger Monroe Brown, Sutherland Simpson, Francis Gano Benedict, Harvey Cushing, Albrecht Kossel, Karl Hugo Kronecker, Carl Ludwig, Charles Robert Richet, and Masaharu Kohima.

Material relating to Sharpey-Schafer's career at UCL includes correspondence on his controversy in the Neurological Society with Sir David Ferrier, 1887-88, and papers relating to the rebuilding of University College Hospital in 1895.

Material relating to Sharpey-Schafer's career at Edinburgh University includes correspondence on the forced resignation of William Cramer from the department of Physiology on grounds of German nationality, 1914, and papers on the opening of the department of Animal Genetics in 1930.

Other papers reflect various aspects of Sharpey-Schafer's scientific interests, including the history of the Physiological Society (with several letters from Archibald Vivian Hill), artificial respiration and bird migration. There are also numerous letters in response to his controversial address to the British Association in Dundee in 1912, and correspondence on the position of scientists in post-Revolutionary Russia, 1918-21.

There is a substantial correspondence on the various textbooks Sharpey-Schafer wrote or to which he contributed, 1910-34.

Sharpey-Schafer's personal papers include correspondence with his wives and children, 1876-1935, scrapbooks of press cuttings, c. 1899-1930, and a large collection of photographs, mainly portraits.

Administrative / Biographical History

Career summary: Born 6 June 1850, at Hornsey, son of J W Sch?fer of Highgate and Hamburg; educated University College London (medal for Physiology). 1871 first Sharpey Scholar, University College London. 1874 Assistant Professor of Physiology, University College London. 1877 published A course of practical Histology . 1878 elected a Fellow of the Royal Society; married Maud Dixey. 1878-1881 Fullerian Professor, Royal Institution. 1883 Jodrell Professor, University College London; published his first researches in cerebral localisation. 1885 published Essentials of Histology . 1894 discovery with George Oliver of the effect of extract of the suprarenal gland. 1895-1900 General Secretary, British Association for the Advancement of Science. 1896 death of Maud Schafer, his first wife. 1897 awarded the Baly Medal by the Royal College of Physicians. 1898-1902 edited Advanced textbook of Physiology , to which he also contributed. 1899 elected to the Edinburgh Chair of Physiology. 1900 married Ethel Maude Roberts. 1902 awarded the Royal Medal by the Royal Society. 1903 gave papers on artificial respiration to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 1908 founded the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology and edited it until 1933. 1909 awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the Royal Life-Saving Society (for the `Schafer method' of artificial respiration). 1911 awarded the De Cyon Prize by the Accademia della Scienza, Bologna. 1912 President, British Association for the Advancement of Science: gave a controversial address on `Life, its nature, origin and maintenance'; published Quain's Elements of Anatomy Vol II Pt I and Experimental Physiology . 1913 knighted; Lane Medical Lecturer, Stanford. 1915 death in action of his younger son Tom. 1916 published The endocrine organs; death of his elder son Jack at Jutland. c. 1916 death of elder daughter Marjory. 1918 added Sharpey to his name in memory of Professor William Sharpey. 1922 awarded the Neill Medal by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 1923 President, International Congress of Physiology. 1924 awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society. 1927 published History of the Physiological Society; resigned his Chair at Edinburgh: became Emeritus Professor; Volume 23 of Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology produced in his honour with papers by his former pupils worldwide. Died 29 March 1935, aged 85.


In ten sections as follows: B. British colleagues. A. American colleagues. C. Continental colleagues. F. Far-Eastern colleagues. J. Jodrell Professorship, University College London. E. Edinburgh Chair of Physiology. T. Textbooks. P. Personal. Q. Additional material. R. Reprints.

Access Information

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, by prior appointment with Archives and Manuscripts staff and after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking. Please note that access to several files (marked in the detailed list) is restricted. Readers wishing for access to such material may submit a formal application form to Archives and Manuscript staff.

Acquisition Information

The papers were received by the Wellcome Library from Miss Geraldine Mary Sharpey-Schafer, Sir Edward's younger daughter and only surviving child, in several batches between 1967 and 1971 (Acc Nos 70, 323, 884).

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued by Lesley Hall, CMAC, Wellcome Library, July 1982, additions May 1987. Catalogue revised by Lesley Hall, CMAC, Wellcome Library, December 1988, additions February 1990. Hard-copy catalogue with personal names index available in Wellcome Library.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Richard Aspin based on the typescript catalogue to the collection by Lesley Hall

Separated Material

Material held elsewhere: there is further correspondence of Sharpey-Schafer in the Special Collections department of Edinburgh University Library.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Custodial History

Some of the papers were formerly held by the family, some by Sharpey-Schafer's solicitors.

Related Material

Material held by Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library: transcripts of lectures on Histology by Sharpey-Schafer at UCL can be found in the notebooks of W D Halliburton, 1878-79 (WMSS.2681-2682); the minutes of the Association for the Advancement of Medicine by Research (WMS.5310) include inserted letters by Sharpey-Schafer, 1882-91; the papers of H R Silvester (WMS.4599) include material on the Schafer method of artificial respiration, 1898-1904, and the papers of Sir Walter Morley Fletcher (PP/WMF) include a file of correspondence and papers on the same subject, 1907-8; the records of the Physiological Society include Sharpey-Schafer's History of the Physiological Society during its first fifty years 1876-1926, 1927 (SA/PHY/R.1/1), and various photographs; the papers of Professor Ivan de Burgh Daly (PP/DBD) include biographical material on Sharpey-Schafer.