Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Maurice Stacey FRS (1907-1994), Chemist

This record is held by University of Birmingham: Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections

Details of Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Maurice Stacey FRS (1907-1994), Chemist
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of Maurice Stacey FRS (1907-1994), Chemist
Reference: NCUACS 70.8.97

The material is presented in the order given in the List of Contents. It covers the period 1929-1994.


Section A, Biographical, includes biographical and bibliographical material produced by Stacey. Of particular interest is a series of typescript autobiographical accounts which appear to be transcripts of reminiscences originally recorded on tape. The collection contains material documenting Stacey's career, honours and awards and includes typescript reports relating to his visits to the Soviet Union, 1956 and South America and Jamaica, 1962.


Section B, Research, includes a sequence of reports by Stacey, 1930-1933. There are also a significant number of notebooks, relating to Stacey's research work at the University of Birmingham, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and his visiting professorship at Columbia University, New York, USA in 1937. A notebook at NCUACS 70.8.97/B.41 contains information on teaching private soldiers about the threat from gas warfare, ca 1940. The section also includes papers relating to patent applications in which Stacey was involved.


Section C, History of Chemistry in Birmingham, contains papers relating to the University of Birmingham, the Lunar Society of Birmingham and the Joseph Priestley bicentenary celebrations. The University of Birmingham material includes a typescript by Stacey on atomic energy research at Birmingham, 1939-1947, photographs of members of staff and three photograph albums of building work at the University, 1956-1961. The Lunar Society of Birmingham material consists of a manuscript history of the Society by J.A.N. Friend. Stacey was involved in arrangements for the Joseph Priestley bicentenary celebrations, 1974 and 1980, and the section also includes papers relating to this.


Section D, Correspondence, is small but does include letters from W.T. Astbury, W.N. Haworth and E.L. Hirst.

Date: 1929-1994
Held by: University of Birmingham: Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, not available at The National Archives



SECTION B RESEARCH: NCUACS 70.8.97/B.1 - NCUACS 70.8.97/B.54





Language: English
Extent: 149 items
Administrative History:

Maurice Stacey was born in Moreton, near Newport, Shropshire, on 8 April 1907. He attended Adams Grammar School, Newport, from 1920 and in 1926 entered the University of Birmingham. He graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) in 1929 and was appointed to a University Demonstratorship. Stacey's earliest research related to the synthesis and structure of the higher sugars. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1932, accepted Sir Norman Haworth's offer of a post-doctoral research scholarship and joined his research group working on Vitamin C. Stacey led a team working on its synthesis and within a short space of time had successfully crystallised the vitamin. This was the first ever synthetic vitamin to be obtained crystalline. These results were of great importance and helped to bring Haworth the Nobel Prize in 1937, while Stacey's contribution earned him the Meldola Medal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry in 1933.


During the period 1929 to 1933 part of Stacey's time had been spent preparing mould polysaccharides at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1933 he took up a Beit Fellowship for Medical Research there and carried out research into the complex carbohydrates of mould and bacteria and worked on the preparation of typhoid vaccines. In 1936 he was approached again by Sir Norman Haworth and accepted an appointment to a lectureship in Chemistry at the University of Birmingham, where he was to remain a member of staff for the rest of his career. Much of the following year was spent as a visiting professor in M. Heidelberger's laboratory at Columbia University, New York, USA, where he studied the immunopolysaccharides of the Pneumococcus and Streptococcus. On his return Stacey organised a team to research polysaccharides synthesised by micro-organisms. His most significant work at this time concerned the structure of the complex bacterial polysaccharide, dextran.


The outbreak of war in 1939 had a profound effect on research since Haworth ordered the Chemistry Department at Birmingham to redirect their work from carbohydrates to the study of uranium. Stacey was a member of the MAUD Chemistry Committee and worked on the production of uranium and its compounds, especially uranium hexafluoride as part of the 'Tube Alloys' Project. Despite the redirection of research, Stacey was able to undertake a small amount of research on dextran and developed it as a blood plasma substitute. He also worked on the production of glucose direct from potatoes. In 1944 Stacey was made a Reader in Chemistry in the Birmingham Department.


After the War Stacey's involvement in atomic energy research continued as a member of the panel which selected Harwell as the site for the first Atomic Energy Research Establishment and as a consultant on fluoro-carbon chemistry to the Atomic Energy Authority. In 1946 he was appointed Professor of Chemistry at Birmingham and undertook a number of separate projects. Research groups were established in organofluorine chemistry, nucleic acid chemistry and analytic chemistry. Stacey was appointed Mason Professor and Head of Department in 1956 and also served as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering between 1963 and 1966. He retired in 1974 and was appointed Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Radiation Chemistry. He died on 9 October 1994.


Stacey published over 400 scientific papers and more than 20 patents during his career. He wrote two books with S.R. Barker, Polysaccharides of Micro-organisms (1961) and Carbohydrates of Living Tissues (1962). He also encouraged links between universities and industry and acted as a consultant for a considerable number of companies. Firms he advised included Glaxo, ICI, Dunlop, Lucas Industries and Imperial Smelting Corporation.


Stacey was involved in a number of activities outside his university duties. Between 1940 and 1944 Stacey served as a Commissioned Captain in the Home Guard (Warwickshire Regiment). He also founded a Chemical Defence School with J.A.N. Friend, which was responsible for training Home Guard personnel in the Midland region in anti-gas and chemical warfare defence methods. Stacey was Chief Scientific Advisor for Civil Defence for the Midland region, 1950-1975. He was a member of the Home Office Science Advisory Council, 1967-1975 and served on the councils and committees of numerous other bodies, including five terms as Vice-President of the Chemical Society.


Stacey was accorded many honours and awards. He received the Meldola Medal of the Royal Institute of Chemistry in 1933 for his work on Vitamin C and was awarded the Tilden Medal and Lectureship by the Chemical Society in 1946 for his research on the chemistry of micro-organisms. In 1950 Stacey was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society and his work on sugar and dextran earned him the Grant Award of the US National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the CBE in 1966 for his Civil Defence work.

Creator Names:
  • Stacey, Maurice, 1904-1994, scientist and chemist
Immediate Source Of Acquisition:
  • The papers were received through the good offices of Christine Penney, University Archivist, University of Birmingham in July 1997.

Conditions of access:

















Alan Hayward and Peter Harper


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

Link to NRA Record:

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