Fonds RBSC-ARC-1733 - Sir Charles Scott Sherrington fonds

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Sir Charles Scott Sherrington fonds

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24 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Sir Charles Scott Sherrington was born on November 27th 1857 at Islington, London. He began his medical studies at St. Thomas’ Hospital. He studied physiology under Michael Foster at Cambridge, where he fostered his interest in neurology. In 1885, Sherrington published a paper on the effects of excisions on the cortex of dogs, which had become a heated topic at a medical congress in London years before. Sherrington obtained his Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1884 and a First Class in the Natural Sciences Trips at Cambridge with distinction. He obtained his Medicinae Baccalaureus degree at Cambridge in 1885 and his Licentiate of Royal College of Physicians in 1886.

Sherrington journeyed to Spain in 1885 as a member of the Committee of the Association for Research in Medicine to study the outbreak of cholera and again in 1886 to Venice. In 1887, Sherrington was appointed Lecturer in Systematic Physiology at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London and was elected a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge. In 1891 he was appointed successor to Sir Victor Horsley as the Professor and Superintendent of the Brown Institute for Advanced Physiological and Pathological Research in London. In 1895 he became the Professor of Physiology at the University of Liverpool.

Sherrington published several papers about the problems of spinal reflexes during 1891 and on efferent nerve supply of nerve muscles between 1892-1894. He published The Integrative Action of the Nervous System in 1906. In 1913, he became the Waynfleet Professor of Physiology at Oxford, where he remained until he retired in 1936.

His honors include being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1893. He was awarded the Royal Medal in 1905 and the Copley Medal in 1927. In 1922, he was conferred the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire and the Order of Merit in 1924. Sherrington was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1932 along with Edgar Douglas Adrian for their discoveries regarding functions of neurons. He held honorary doctorates at the Universities of Oxford, London, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Wales, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paris, Strasbourg, Louvain, Uppsala, Lyons, Budapest, Athens, Brussels, Berne, Toronto, Montreal and Harvard.

He died of heart failure in Eastborne in 1952.

Custodial history

The papers were largely acquired as a gift from Sherrington's son, Carr Sherrington by the Woodward Library in October 9th, 1964. Additional accruals were donated by Margaret Sherrington, Lady Dale and John Eccles. The papers were transferred from Woodward Memorial Library to Rare Books and Special Collections in 2013.

Scope and content

The fonds consist of correspondence, personal documents, and memorabilia of his career acquired by his son, Carr E. R. Sherrington. The correspondence is largely comprised of letters. The first section are letters by Sir Charles Scott Sherrington to Sir John Carew Eccles, Carr E.R. Sherrington and to Dr. William Gibson. There are also letters from CSS to various other people filed under Miscellaneous Letters. There is also great deal of letters to Charles Scott Sherrington from approximately 317 senders. There are also letters relating to CSS, with approximately 18 different senders.

Throughout the fonds are copies of letters obtained from the Yale Medical Library of correspondence between CSS and John Farquhar Fulton, William R. LeFanu, the Royal Society of London, E.A. Schafer and Angelo Ruffini. Finally, there is correspondence between Carr E. R. Sherrington and Dr. William Gibson, which were added later to the fonds, in addition to copies of Sherrington’s publications.

The fonds also contains manuscripts, notebooks, notes and drafts by Sherrington, covering a range of subjects including Jean Fernel, Sir William Osler, and Goethe. There are address books, laboratory notes with drawings discussing the mind-matter relationship and biology. There is also an unidentified paper written in 1948. There is a collection of articles and book reviews about CSS, handwritten manuscripts, and menus and invitations for events.

There are photographs in the fonds, specifically illustrations for frontispieces from books, as well as photographs of buildings, landscapes and laboratories. The fonds also contains certificates and diplomas received by CSS from various institutions, including honorary degrees and memberships to societies. There are also objects in the fonds, such as medals, chairs, ice skates, and hats, which are kept in the Sherrington Room at the Woodward Library, and are listed as such in the finding aid.

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The fonds is arranged into 7 main series. The first 2 boxes contain the correspondence written by Sir Sherrington to a range of persons, including Sir John Carew Eccles, Carr E. R. Sherrington, William Gibson, and others. The second series are letters to Sir Sherrington, are arranged by the writers in alphabetical order. Box 3 contains miscellaneous articles or items pertaining to Sherrington, including articles, obituaries, menus, invitations and items.

Box 4 contains photographs, books and pamphlets in the fonds. There are 2 oversized files at the end of Box 4 that contain the diplomas and certificates which were removed from frames and placed in oversized files. Box 5 contains Xerox copies of correspondence from the Yale Medical Library, original correspondence between Carr E. R. Sherrington and Dr. William Gibson, and also contains copies of a booklet by William Cullen and copies of CSS articles from the Journal of Physiology.

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There are objects such as medals, chairs, ice skates, and hats, which were originally a part of the fonds, but are kept in the Sherrington Room at the Woodward Library.

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Items were assigned alpha-numeric numbers during the early description process at the Woodward Library, which were written on the items themselves in pencil. These numbers were updated during the new description process in ATOM and are different from the original alpha-numeric designations on the items.

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RAD compliant Finding Aid prepared by: Kristine Protacio, March 2015

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