Archives of The Medical Association for the Prevention of War, collected by Dr Alex Poteliakhoff.

Scope and Content

MAPW records in this Archive include rules, papers of AGMs, Executive Committee and sub-committees, correspondence, accounts, newsletters and other publications, and files on conferences, lectures and fundraising. There are files on initiatives including the Lionel Penrose Trust, Medical Educational Trust and the John Humphrey Memorial Trust, and on the eventual merger with MCANW. Four artificial subject files (H2, H3, H6, H7) bring together early correspondence and significant material for the history of MAPW. Some papers appear to have been acquired by Dr Poteliakhoff independently of his work in MAPW.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) was founded in 1951. It originated in a letter to the Lancet signed by seven distinguished doctors (Richard Doll, Alfred Esterman, Ian Gilliland, Horace Joules, Duncan Leys, Lionel Penrose, and Martin Pollock) expressing concern at the growing arms race and calling for doctors to use their unique expertise and authority to work for disarmament. This led to extensive correspondence in the Lancet and privately, as a result of which a forum to discuss these issues was held in London on 16 March. Chaired by Dr Joules, it was attended by 130 doctors and led to the founding of the MAPW.
Three working parties were set up: on the misuse of science, psychological aspects of war, and the international role of medicine. From its inception MAPW made its presence felt with protests, such as that in 1952 against a British government embargo on the export of medical supplies to China. Activities diminished during the 1960s and early 1970s, but the investigation into issues of peace and conflict was maintained with MAPW conferences and publications, which reached an international audience.
When the group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) was formed in 1980, MAPW became an affiliated organisation. The formation, at the same time, of the Medical Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (MCANW) posed some problems of identity, but MAPW continued with its aims while co-operating with MCANW on nuclear issues. In 1992 MAPW merged with MCANW to form Medact (Medical Action for Global Security).
Dr. Alex Poteliakhoff, who has worked in general practice and in hospitals, joined MAPW in 1951. He has been active in the organisation, serving as Treasurer, Secretary and Vice-Chairman.


Files arranged in an alphabetical sequence by Dr. Poteliakhoff.

Access Information

Available to researchers, by appointment. Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation. The correspondence sections of this archive contain personal data on individuals and access is therefore restricted under the Act. More detailed cataloguing may make it possible to refine this restriction. Researchers should contact the Special Collections Librarian for information about the status of the material they wish to view.

Acquisition Information

Donated to Special Collections by Nick Lewer in 2002.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished interim catalogue.

Archivist's Note

Original descriptions by John Brooker, using ISAD(G) 2, May 2002 (Collection description) and March 2004 (Handlist). Revisions by Alison Cullingford, December 2013.

Conditions Governing Use

MAPW copyrights have been retained; other rights are held by various third parties. Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

Archival appraisal will be carried out as the Archive is catalogued in more detail.

Custodial History

Presented by Dr Poteliakhoff to Nick Lewer of the University of Bradford's Peace Studies department in January 2002.


Several files in the sequence were retained by Dr Poteliakhoff which may be donated to Special Collections at a later date (files J1, M1, M8, P1, P2, W1).

Related Material

The Wellcome Library Archives and Manuscripts holds records of Medact and MCANW.


Physicians and the Peace Movement, by Nick Lewer (Cass, 1992). The Archive contains many published and unpublished articles concerning the history of MAPW.

Personal Names