Sir Frank Young: Correspondence and papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 12 MS.Young
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Physical Description
      43 boxes Much of the collection, notably Young's research papers, is in poor condition, and should be handled with care.

Scope and Content

There is a little autobiographical material including full curricula vitae, and considerable material relating to Young's knighthood, chiefly letters of congratulation. Documentation of Young's career at Cambridge is disappointing, given Young's contributions to the Department of Biochemistry, the development of medicine in Cambridge and his Mastership of Darwin College. There is a record of Young's teaching in the Department of Biochemistry, some departmental administration material and a little material relating to the development of the Clinical School and to arrangements for his post-retirement research. Young's involvement with the MRC Dunn Nutrition Unit is documented, including his service on the Unit's Ethical Committee. There is uneven coverage of research, 1929 to the 1970s. The bulk of the surviving material relates to Young's work on the cause and mechanism of diabetes, a line of research he began under J.J.R. Mcleod at Aberdeen and then C.H. Best at the University of Toronto. Running from 1958 to 1975 is a sequence of experiments relating to work on the relationship between growth hormone and diabetes, performed by D.C. Gardiner.

Documentation of Young's published scientific work includes extensive material relating to Young and C.N. Hales's 1982 Royal Society Biographical Memoir of C.H.Best and sets of Young's offprints. There is documentation of Young's public and invitation lectures and speeches, 1936-1977. Young was frequently invited to lecture and was also a sought-after speaker at social functions. As a Trustee of the Executive Council of the Ciba Foundation he was called upon to speak at many Ciba Foundation functions. Documentation of Young's societies and organisations is very extensive. It includes significant records of some of Young's principal responsibilities including the Ciba Foundation, the International Diabetes Federation, chiefly its Special Committee established in 1970 to report on the 'work leading up to the discovery of insulin', and the British Nutrition Foundation during the period of Young's Presidency. International Union of Biochemistry material mostly relates to the problems in rearranging the 8th International Congress of Biochemistry scheduled for Rome in September 1970. Young's service on government advisory committees is represented by papers and correspondence relating to the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy - including its Panels on Recommended Allowances of Nutrients, Diet in relation to Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease, and Bread, Flour and other Cereal Products - and the Advisory Committee on the Irradiation of Food. Young's membership of the Royal Commission on Medical Education is also well documented, including responses to the Commission's report (the Todd Report). Other organisations represented include the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (later the University of Rhodesia). Young was a member of the College Council as a representative of the Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas, and there are papers relating to the problems confronting the institution in its relations with the Rhodesian government.

Only a very small proportion of Young's visits and attendance at conferences, 1955-1977, is documented. There is an alphabetical sequence of general scientific correspondence, principal correspondents including C.H. Best, J. Bornstein, Sir Henry Dale, I. Hais, W.D. Tigertt and Lord Zuckerman, and the contents of Young's letter file of outgoing letters, January - September 1975.

Supplementary material includes additional biographical material relating to honours and awards and a few photographs of Young. New material relating to the University of Cambridge chiefly comprises teaching material, 1952-1971, including Young's lecture notes, and some general papers relating to the Department of Biochemistry. Publications material covers the period 1965-1984, and consists of drafts of 1960s papers on growth hormone and some biographical writings on A.C. Frazer and C.H.Best. Included are drafts of Young's (with C.N. Hales) memoir of Best for Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. There is further documentation of lectures and broadcasts, 1948-1969. Included are drafts for a series of 1948 lectures on hormones and other lectures on hormones delivered in Britain and abroad. Societies and organisations material is slight: significant documentation exists for the Medical Research Council and the Nestl Foundation only. The new correspondence chiefly consists of general correspondence 1955-1988, a large proportion of which is personal correspondence with friends and colleagues. There is a group of Young's correspondence with Sir Henry McDowell, former Chancellor of the University of Rhodesia, relating to the new University of Zimbabwe.

  • Biographical (A.1-A.69)
  • Cambridge University (B.1-B.52)
  • Research (C.1-C.106)
  • Publications (D.1-D.63)
  • Lectures and speeches (E.1-E.88)
  • Societies and organisations (F.1-F.331)
  • Visits and conferences (G.1-G.26)
  • Correspondence (H.1-H.147)

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Frank George Young (1908-1988), biochemist, was born in London on 25 March 1908. He attended Alleyn's School, Dulwich, 1916-1926, before joining University College London. He held research fellowships, studying diabetes, at the Universities of Aberdeen and Toronto, 1932-1936, and was appointed to the Scientific Staff of the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research in 1936. He was Professor of Biochemistry at London University, 1942-1949, and Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry at Cambridge, 1949-1975. Young's research work focused on the field of endocrinology, with particular reference to the study of diabetes. He was the first Master of Darwin College, 1964-1976, and a member of the Medical Research Council, 1950-1954. Young co-founded the British Nutrition Foundation in 1967, and was its President, 1970-1976. He served on a number of government advisory bodies, and was also active in diabetes research organisations. His international commitments included membership of the Council of the International Union of Biochemistry, 1961-1972. He died on 20 September 1988.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room. Not all of the material in the collection may yet be available for consultation. Enquiries should be addressed in the first instance to The Keeper of Manuscripts and University Archives, Cambridge University Library.

Acquisition Information

Presented by the family of Sir Frank Young, 1999.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, with reference to the catalogue prepared by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, Bath University.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue, prepared by the N.C.U.A.C.S, is on the A2A (Access to Archives) website ( A printed version of this catalogue is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.


For further information about Sir Frank Young see Sir Philip Randle, 'Sir Frank George Young', Biographical memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, vol. 36 (1990), pp 583-599.