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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
DE BEER, Professor Sir Gavin Rylands (1899-1972)
Level of description
Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
2 boxes and 2 large folders


Name of creator(s)

Beer, Sir, Gavin Rylands De, 1899-1972, Knight, Embryologist

Administrative / Biographical history

Born 1899; educated at the Ecole Pascal, Paris, Harrow School and Magdalen College, Oxford, 1917; Grenadier Guards and Army Education Scheme, 1918-1919; Magdalen, 1919-1921; graduated with Zoology degree in 1921; fellow of Merton College, 1923-1938; taught in the University Zoology Department until 1938; reader in embryology, University College London, 1938; Professor, 1945-1950; World War Two work in intelligence, propaganda and psychological warfare; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1940; President of the Linnean Society, 1946-1949; Director of the British Museum (Natural History), 1950-1960; knighted, 1954; retired, 1960; lived in Switzerland, 1965-1971; died 1972. Publications: Growth (London, 1924); Early travellers in the Alps (London, 1930); Vertebrate zoology (London, 1932); An introduction to experimental embryology (Oxford, 1934); De Beer and Julian Sorell Huxley, Elements of experimental embryology (Cambridge, 1934); The development of the vertebrate skull (Oxford, 1937); edited, Evolution. Essays on aspects of evolutionary biology presented to Professor E S Goodrich on his seventieth birthday (Oxford, 1938); Alps and elephants. Hannibal's march (London, 1955); Darwin's Journal (London, 1959); edited Darwin's notebooks on transmutation of species (London, 1960); Charles Darwin: evolution by natural selection (London, 1963); Atlas of evolution (London, 1964); Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his world (London, 1972).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Chelsea College Library.

Content & structure

Scope and content

The papers of Professor Sir Gavin Rylands De Beer comprise notebooks, typescript lecture texts and photographs, [1917-1947]; notably including four manuscript notebooks containing summaries of lectures attended by De Beer when he was an undergraduate and fellow at Oxford, consisting of notes on rudimentary embryology and zoology with sketches and bibliographies, [1917-1938]; proofs and fair copies of the text of De Beer's anniversary lecture as President of the Linnean Society on animal posture and morphology with photographs and drawings, [1947]; transparencies used in a talk on evolution, [1947]; microscopy photographs of the embryonic development of monotremes and marsupials and, at the cellular level, of the salamander, [1945-1972]; photographs and plaster casts of the brain case and other parts of a fossilised specimen of the bird-like Archaeopteryx, [1950-1960]; photographs of cross sections through a mature tree showing growth rings, [1950-1960].

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged into notebooks, lecture texts and photographs as shown in Scope and Content.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services.

Language/scripts of material


Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

King's College London College Archives

Related units of description

Oxford University: Department of Zoology: zoological correspondence and papers; Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts: correspondence with CD Darlington, 1951-1958 (Ref: CSAC103/3/85); Oxford University: Wolfson College Library: correspondence with HBD Kettlewell, 1954-1972; London University: University College London (UCL) Manuscripts Room: correspondence and papers, [1939-1972] (Ref: DE BEER); Natural History Museum, London, typescript Atlas of Evolution, [1962], and correspondence with WR Dawson, 1947-1961 (167 items) (Ref: L MSS DEB, L MSS DAWS A); Rice University: Woodson Research Center: correspondence with Sir Julian Huxley (65 items), 1921-1970 (Ref: Julian S Huxley papers).

Description control

Archivist's Note

Sources: Who's Who, Dictionary of National Biography. Entry compiled by Geoff Browell as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions

March 2002

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  • Bibliographies
  • Biology
  • Diagrams
  • Embryology
  • Illustrations
  • Photographs
  • Physiological development
  • Physiology
  • Secondary documents
  • Visual materials
  • Zoology

Personal names

  • Beer, Sir, Gavin Rylands, De, 1899-1972, Knight, Embryologist

Corporate names

  • King's College London College Archives
  • Linnean Society of London

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