Science and medicine in China from the Second World War to the cultural revolution: sources from the archives of Joseph and Dorothy Needham


  • Needham Research Institute

Project summary

Biochemist and historian Joseph Needham had unprecedented access to medical institutions in China during the Second World War and he also visited regularly between 1949 and 1978. His research was recorded in photographs, notebooks, diaries and correspondence. He collected scientific and medical objects as well as now rare cultural items. His wife, biochemist Dorothy Needham, joined him and her journals provide insights into medical advances under challenging conditions.

The output of the project will be: a catalogue of the collection to international standards; the conservation of documents, photographs, glass plate slides and medical objects; and the digitisation of photographs and notebooks. A programme of exhibitions and talks will raise awareness of this archive for scholars and the wider public.

Needham wrote: ‘If I have been the means of explaining the scientific, technological and medical achievements of the Chinese people to the rest of the world, I shall be more than satisfied.’ This project will help to fulfil his vision by bringing new online resources to researchers worldwide.