Opening up the Francis Crick archive
At the beginning of March 2004 the online catalogue of the papers of Nobel Laureate Francis Crick went live. The Wellcome Trust purchased Dr. Crick's scientific archive in December 2001, with the assistance of a grant from the Heritage Lottery fund. Papers covering the first half of Crick's career are now catalogued and available for study in the Wellcome Library. The catalogue can be consulted via the Library's website at <http://library.wellcome.ac.uk/> (choose the Manuscripts & Archives option and search for reference PP/CRI). A detailed discussion of the papers just released can be found in Chris Beckett, "For the record: the Francis Crick archive at the Wellcome Library," Medical History, 2004, 48: 245-60.
This newly available resource comprises over 1000 files of correspondence, research notes and other material, mainly relating to Crick's work in molecular biology and in particular his elucidation, with James Watson, of the structure of DNA. Selected material, such as Crick's pencil sketches of the structure of DNA, drafts of the famous Watson and Crick paper in Nature, and the telegram announcing Crick's Nobel Prize, formed part of a major Wellcome Trust exhibition in 2003 marking the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking publication: this exhibition can be viewed online at <http://library.wellcome.ac.uk/events/rr_crick_pr.html>. Copies of the images can be ordered via the Wellcome Library's image collections website at <http://medphoto.wellcome.ac.uk/> (search on the phrase "Crick papers").
Plans are now underway to create an online digital archive drawn from the Crick papers. The project will focus on the discovery of the DNA double-helix and Crick's career up to his relocation to the United States, and will be accessible via the US National Library of Medicine's Profiles in Science site at http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov. The project will vastly increase access to an archive of major research interest, and will allow researchers to 'step over' the Atlantic and place Crick's papers in context alongside those of other 20th century leaders in biomedical research such as Oswald T. Avery and Linus Pauling. The aim is to design a dual-purpose archive acting as both a comprehensive study resource for general students of biomedical science, and an invaluable jumping-off point for more in-depth research in the recent history of the subject.
Cataloguing of the remainder of Crick's papers is now beginning. This covers the second half of Crick's career, in which he relocated to the United States and switched the focus of his work to the neurosciences. Regular progress reports on this cataloguing and ongoing developments in the digitisation project will be posted on the Library website.
For further information please contact Archives and Manuscripts, Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London NB1 2BE, tel. 020 7611 8486, <mailto:[log in to unmask]>, <http://library.wellcome.ac.uk/>.
Posted by Helen Wakely,
Archives and Manuscripts,
Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London NB1 2BE
020 7611 8674 (tel) / 8703 (fax)
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