‘Such Facts as Seem to Throw Light Upon Each Other’ Conserving The Papers of Dr Richard Bright

On the 30 May our collection care team welcomed a project conservator, David Parker. For the next two years, he will be working for the new project involving the conservation of the 19th century papers of Dr Richard Bright.

Richard Bright is a key figure in the history of medicine and intellectual life, famous for his work in nephrology and discovery of Bright’s disease, but also active in other areas, including natural history, geology and travel. He is particularly noted for his geological work, especially in connection with his early voyage to Iceland with Sir George Mackenzie. Bright was a notable figure on the London medical scene and was particularly active at Guy’s.

The Bright paper collection held at the Norfolk Record Office contains notebooks, sketch books and letters written, drawn and received by Richard Bright. Together they chart the early years of Bright’s career as a doctor and author. However, the collection is in danger of being lost forever because of its dire condition; 78% of the collection is in need of extensive conservation work before all but a small part of the collection can be handled. To make this resource accessible the project aim is to conserve around 700 letters, 800 pages of notebooks and a sketchbook.

A grant received from the Wellcome Trust has enabled the NRO to employ David to carry out the conservation treatments. During a two year period we aim to complete approximately half of the archive as the first phase of the project.


David working on the material

Conserving this significant collection is a major step towards the next phase of the project, during which we will digitise and catalogue the archive. Once the project is complete it is anticipated that the collection will attract interest from historians of medical science, geology and natural history as well as making Bright’s key contributions better know.

Yuki Russell, Project Coordinator



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