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Archive of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War

The Association

The Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) was founded in 1951.  It originated in a letter to the Lancet signed by seven distinguished doctors (Richard Doll, Alfred Esterman, Ian Gilliland, Horace Joules, Duncan Leys, Lionel Penrose, and Martin Pollock) expressing concern at the growing arms race and calling for doctors to use their unique expertise and authority to work for disarmament.  This led to extensive correspondence in the Lancet and privately, as a result of which a forum to discuss these issues was held in London on 16 March.  Chaired by Dr Joules, it was attended by 130 doctors and led to the founding of the MAPW.  Over the next three decades, the association ran many campaigns and created conferences and publications to allow health professionals to discuss ethical concerns.

For more about the founding of MAPW, see no. 95 in the 100 Objects exhibition: A Letter to the Lancet: the story of MAPW.

When the group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) was formed in 1980, MAPW became an affiliated organisation.  The formation, at the same time, of the Medical Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (MCANW) posed some problems of identity, but MAPW continued with its aims while co-operating with MCANW on nuclear issues.  In 1992 MAPW merged with MCANW to form Medact (Medical Action for Global Security) a "health professionals' organisation challenging barriers to health", such as violent conflict and poverty.

The Archive

The Archive was collected and organised by Dr. Alex Poteliakhoff, who joined MAPW in 1951 and has been active in the organisation, serving as Treasurer, Secretary and Vice-Chairman.  It includes records of MAPW: rules, papers of AGMs, Executive Committee and sub-committees, correspondence, accounts, newsletters and other publications, and files on conferences, lectures and fundraising.  There are files on initiatives including the Lionel Penrose Trust, Medical Educational Trust and the John Humphrey Memorial Trust, and on the eventual merger with MCANW.  Four artificial subject files bring together early correspondence and significant material for the history of MAPW.

Further information about the Archive and how to use it:

Interim Catalogue of the Archives of MAPW (151 kb, docx),

Interim Catalogue of the Archives of MAPW (132 kb, pdf)

Links

  • Special Collections holds many materials relevant to medicine and peace campaigning, notably the Craig Archive, and items in the Peace Pamphlets collection.
  • The Wellcome Library holds the archives of Medact and MCANW.  We will be working with them in 2014 to highlight the value of medical peace campaign collections to researchers in many disciplines.