The collection is uneven in its coverage but papers survive from all phases of Synge's life and career. Biographical material is extensive. The personal material includes pocket diaries 1926, 1945-1992. There are records of Synge's childhood in the form of school work, reports and printed material, and of his time as an undergraduate at Trinity College Cambridge, principally his lecture notes and work sheets. Documentation of Synge's later career, honours and awards is patchy but there is material relating to the award of the Nobel Prize. There is much family material including correspondence between his parents and their correspondence with him, for example during Synge's time at Winchester College and Trinity College. Synge's political interests are not particularly well documented although there is material relating to the Communist Party in the 1940s, the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR 1946-1955 and to his later links with the 'peace movement' including Scientists Against Nuclear Arms 1981-1991. There are also many photographs.
There is a little documentation of Synge's career at the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, 1943-1948. It includes correspondence and papers relating to Synge's appointment including his statement of proposed work, inventories of equipment and chemicals, and miscellaneous administrative material. There are also papers relating to Synge's visit to Tiselius's laboratory at Uppsala during this period. There is documentation of Synge's appointment to the Rowett Research Institute, his departmental headship including research programmes, equipment and staff, the ARC Visiting Groups to the Institute, and administrative material including sets of Institute notices and circulars. Food Research Institute material is not extensive. It includes correspondence and papers relating to Synge's appointment including his plan of research, comments on Lord Rothschild's 1971 Green Paper A Framework for Government Research and Development, administrative papers from the Chemistry Division, and project reports from Synge's research.
Synge's research is also documented in notebooks and research notes. The notebooks document Synge's research from postgraduate studies in the mid 1930s, through work for the WIRA in Leeds, the Lister Institute, the Rowett Research Institute and the Food Research Institute, to post-retirement work in the 1990s on electronic storage of chemical information. The research notes cover the period 1938-1987. They include reports on work on proteins for the WIRA 1938-1943, wartime work on grass protein 1939-1943 and gramicidin S 1944-1946, studies on the nutritive value of by-products of the herring industry 1949-1951, and papers relating to computer searching for chemical information searches 1981. There is documentation of some of Synge's scientific publications 1940-1992, public lectures 1942-1983 and broadcasts 1947-1961. The publications material is not comprehensive and there are relatively few drafts of Synge's biochemistry publications. There are translations of articles in the Soviet scientific literature on gramicidin S and correspondence and papers relating to the possible translation from the Russian of Mikhail Semenovich Tsvet 1872-1919 by E.M. Senchenkova. There is also editorial correspondence. Lectures material documents some of Synge's many public and invitation lectures including his 1951 Second P.F. Frankland Memorial Lecture to the Royal Institute of Chemistry and the Institution of Electrical Engineers. In general there are few drafts, the bulk of the material is correspondence regarding arrangements. There are, however, drafts found in Synge's two folders inscribed 'Unpublished etc' including book reviews and drafts on the history of science, and a set of the collected off-prints of Synge's published work.
Visits, conferences and travel material covers the period 1945-1992. The most extensively documented visit is Synge's stay in New Zealand 1958-1959, including travel on the Trans-Siberian railway on the return journey to the UK. Significant documentation survives for the 1955 International Wool Textile Research Conference in Australia, the International Symposium on the Origins of the Earth, Moscow, USSR, 1957, Synge's visits to India as a guest of the Indian Statistical Institute in 1965, 1966 and 1970, and his visit to Cuba in May 1969. Synge's involvement with 24 UK and overseas organisations and societies is documented from ca 1936 to 1993. There is material relating to the Agricultural Research Council, principally the Ruminant Metabolism Group 1949-1953 and N.W. Pirie's proposals for research on the extraction of leaf protein 1951-1953. Also represented by significant material are the Association of Scientific Workers - Synge was an enthusiastic supporter of the Association and served as a Vice-President from 1954, the Biochemical Society - Synge served on the Editorial Board of the Biochemical Journal 1949-1955, the British Nutrition Foundation - Synge was a scientific governor of the Foundation 1974-1979, the Royal Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry - particularly relating to its Chemical Information Group, 1984-1987.
Synge's scientific correspondence is substantial and important. There is an alphabetical sequence of principal correspondents including A.C. Chibnall, S.R. Elsden, J.H. Humphrey, Hugh Gordon, Dorothy Hodgkin, H.R. Marston, A.J.P. Martin, Stanford Moore, N.W. Pirie, P.L. Robinson, F. Sanger and A.W.K. Tiselius. There is also a chronological sequence of shorter scientific correspondence, 1936-1993.