Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of ERNEST HUBERT FRANCIS BALDWIN (1909-1969)

This record is held by London University: University College London (UCL) Special Collections

Details of NCUACS 67.5.97
Reference: NCUACS 67.5.97
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of ERNEST HUBERT FRANCIS BALDWIN (1909-1969)











It covers the period 1930 to 1970.


Section A, Biographical, largely documents Baldwin's academic career from 1934 onwards. The section includes Baldwin's bound Ph.D. thesis and correspondence about his appointment to the Chair of Biochemistry at University College, London in 1950. Offers of appointments and election to the New York Academy of Sciences reflect his standing in the USA. There is also correspondence relating to the award of the Cortina Ulisse Prize in 1952. A sequence of pocket diaries covering the period 1949 to 1970 provides brief notes on his day to day schedule. The principal sequence of correspondence in the collection covering the period 1951 to 1968 is presented here. It is described by Baldwin as personal correspondence but includes exchanges with scientific colleagues. Baldwin's personal circumstances in the late 1940s are revealed in documentation relating to a legal action to retain his tenancy of a rented house in Cambridge against the wishes of his landlady. There is a photograph of the staff of the Biochemical Department at Cambridge ca. 1945 to 1950.


Section B, Research, strongly represents, in notebook form, Baldwin the research scientist. The earliest notebooks cover the period 1930 to 1933 and include material documenting Baldwin's work at Cambridge with D.M.M. Needham, J. Needham and J. Yudkin. Research from 1934 to 1948 is well documented in a continuous sequence of ten notebooks. There are also two notebooks kept while at the Marine Biological Laboratories, Woods Hole, Massachusetts during 1948 and another notebook (unbound) kept at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California during 1956 to 1957. Other research material includes tracings some of which appear to be recordings of the anthelminthic potency of drugs using what Baldwin described as 'a kymorgraphic technique' and a few typescript draft reports and correspondence relating to W.H. Yudkin, his co-worker at Woods Hole and later at Cambridge.


Section C, Publications, lectures and broadcasts, is the largest section in the catalogue and illustrates Baldwin's role as writer and lecturer on biochemical matters. Drafts and correspondence relating to publications include material on the books Dynamic aspects of biochemistry, Hopkins and biochemistry, 1861-1947, Cole's practical physiological chemistry (10th edition, edited by Baldwin and David James Bell, 1955) and The nature of biochemistry. There is documentation relating to public and invitation lectures and extensive lecture material prepared for his biochemistry courses at Cambridge and University College, London. These show signs of revision and rearrangement and there is evidence that they were used in the preparation of some of Baldwin's books. Baldwin's general editorial correspondence is presented alphabetically by publisher or journal title. A number of BBC radio broadcasts from the 1950s are also documented in this section.


Section D, Visits and conferences, covers the period 1948 to 1965, although it does not appear to be a complete record for these years. Much of the material documents Baldwin's visits to the United States to attend conferences, give lectures at academic institutions, undertake research and take up Visiting Professorships. Particularly well documented is Baldwin's Visiting Professorship at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, 1956-1957. A little printed material also survives for the First International Congress of Biochemistry, Cambridge, 1949, which Baldwin played an important part in organising.


Compiled by Adrian Nardone and Alan Hayward


The work of the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, and the production of this catalogue, are made possible by the support of the following societies and organisations:


The Biochemical Society


The Geological Society


The Higher Education Funding Council for England


The Institute of Physics


The Royal Society


The Wellcome Trust




We are grateful to Mrs Nicola Milligan and to Dr R.W.A. Oliver for their assistance in making the material available.

Date: 1930-1970
Held by: London University: University College London (UCL) Special Collections, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Baldwin, Ernest Hubert Francis, 1909-1969, scientist and biochemist

Physical description: 425 files
Access conditions:












Custodial history:



The papers were received in April 1997 from Nicola Milligan, daughter of Ernest Baldwin through the good offices of Dr R.W.A. Oliver, Honorary Archivist of the Biochemical Society.

  • Biochemistry
Administrative / biographical background:

Ernest Hubert Francis Baldwin was born on 29 March 1909 in Gloucester. He was educated at the Crypt Grammar School, Gloucester from 1920 to 1928. In 1928 Baldwin was awarded an Open Exhibition in Natural Sciences to St. John's College, Cambridge. In 1930 he was awarded a Foundation Scholarship. He graduated with a first class degree in both parts of the Natural Science Tripos, including Part II Biochemistry. Baldwin then began postgraduate research at the Biochemistry Department at Cambridge. From 1932 to 1935 he was Hutchinson Research Student and from 1933 to 1935 he was a Senior Student of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. In 1933 he was awarded the Henry Humphreys Prize for Research. He received his Ph.D. in 1934 for 'Some comparative studies on phosphagen'.


Baldwin was a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge from 1936 to 1941. He was a Demonstrator in Biochemistry from 1936 to 1943 working under Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins and in 1943 became a Lecturer in the Biochemistry Department. Baldwin regarded Hopkins as his mentor, writing an obituary of Hopkins after his death in 1947 and co-editing with Joseph Needham a memorial volume for the First International Congress on Biochemistry entitled Hopkins and biochemistry, 1861-1947 (1949). On 1 January 1950 Baldwin was appointed to the Chair of Biochemistry at University College, London, a position he held until his death.


Baldwin's principal research interest was comparative biochemistry. Although his early research was chiefly carried out at Cambridge, in the 1930s he also worked for periods at the marine biological stations at Roscoff, France (1931) and Tamaris sur Mer, France (1932, 1936) and at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Plymouth (1933, 1937). From 1940 to 1949 he undertook a series of investigations of the pharmacology and physiology of Ascaris lumbricoides. From June to August 1948 Baldwin was Senior Fellow of the Lalor Foundation visiting the Marine Biological Laboratories at Woods Hole, Massachusetts where he carried out research into the phosphagen of the invertebrates. After his move to University College, London, his principal research interests were in the comparative biochemistry of nitrogen metabolism as well as water shortage effects on the ureotelic metabolism. Baldwin also acted as Visiting Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California from December 1956 to September 1957. While there he carried out research on ureogenesis in elasmobranch fishes.


An important contribution to the development of the science of biochemistry was his active participation in the organisation of the First International Congress of Biochemistry in Cambridge in 1949 for which he acted as Joint Honorary Secretary of the Congress and also served on the Congress Committee and Executive Committee.


His reputation as an educator was one of the principal reasons for his appointment to the Chair of Biochemistry at University College, London in 1950. Here Baldwin established the first undergraduate biochemistry course at University College and orientated the biochemistry department as a branch of biological rather than chemical science. Baldwin is remembered chiefly as a communicator and this is reflected in the present collection by the extensive lectures and publications material that survives. Of particular importance were his influential books on biochemistry, An introduction to comparative biochemistry (1937), Dynamic aspects of biochemistry (1947), and The nature of biochemistry (1962). Various editions and translations of these books were published and reached a wide readership. Baldwin received the prestigious Cortina Ulisse Prize in 1952 for the Italian edition of Dynamic aspects of biochemistry.


In 1933 Baldwin married Pauline Mary Edwards with whom he had a son Nigel and a daughter Nicola. Ernest Baldwin died on 6 December 1969, and was survived by his wife and children and by his younger brother Dr. R.B.T. Baldwin.

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