This article describes the current role of the Wellcome Trust in the Tavistock Institute Archive Project.
The partner organisation to the Tavistock Institute’s Archive Project is the Wellcome Trust, “an independent global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health, because good health makes life better”. The Trust provides annually £700 million to support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine.
The Wellcome Library, which sits within the Wellcome Trust, is one of the world’s major resources for the global history of human and animal medicine and health from ancient times to the present day. The Library operates alongside and within the same building as Wellcome Collection, “a free visitor destination for the incurably curious”. The Wellcome Trust, Library and Collection together occupy an entire block on the south side of Euston Road, London: two interconnected edifices, comprising the Wellcome Building opened in 1932 by pharmaceutical entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry S. Wellcome, and the Gibbs Building opened in 2004 and named after the then Chairman of the Wellcome Trust, Sir Roger Gibbs.
The archive of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations was gifted to the Wellcome Trust in 2015. Characterised by a broad and complex psycho-socio-cultural and health coverage, the Tavistock Institute’s archive fits comfortably within the Wellcome Library’s collecting policy and there has already been significant researcher interest in the collection. It is now one of the Wellcome Library’s 700-plus archive collections which also include the papers of Francis Crick, The Family Planning Association, Marie Stopes, Melanie Klein, National Childbirth Trust, Donald Winnicott and The Mental Aftercare Association, to name but a very few. It will be preserved in perpetuity in the Library’s environmentally controlled on-site storage on the Euston Road.
Dating back to the 1940s and being of substantial physical proportions the Tavistock Institute’s archive will undoubtedly become one of the Wellcome Library’s ‘whopper’ collections. Tentative predictions are of a total 500-600 archive boxes once it is fully catalogued and re-housed (the latter meaning: packaged in archival quality folders and boxes).
The Tavistock Institute’s Archivist, Elena Carter, seconded by the Tavistock Institute to work in the Wellcome Library, will over the next two years catalogue the collection in detail. One of the ultimate goals of the Archive Project is for researchers and historians to be able to browse the Wellcome Library’s online catalogue, identify material of interest to them, order files online and consult them in the Wellcome Library’s Rare Materials Room. We are looking forward to a future when anyone interested in the history, influence and work of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations will be able to consult the organisation’s archives with ease in the Wellcome Library following a mere few clicks of a mouse!
Image credit: Wellcome Trust