Nutrition collection

The Nutrition collection is a rich and varied resource consisting of historical records relating to scientific investigations in the field of nutrition created and collected by LSHTM staff between the 1920s and 1990s.

Fish pond - archives photo

The collection reflects the global and collaborative nature of the School’s work in the field of nutrition, with records relating to countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe and to projects with a range of organisations, including WHO, FAO, UN, BMA and the MRC.

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Collection highlights

  • Reports of surveys and research in applied nutrition. 
  • Anthropometric data, extensive dietary survey material, studies of agricultural practices and records of clinical surveys
  • Documents relating to Second World War nutrition in the UK as well as records kept by Dr Dean Smith and Dr Alan Woodruff in the Changi internment camp in Singapore and Stanley internment camp, Hong Kong, 1942-1945.
  • Personal letters, memoranda and reports relating to the School's work with WHO, FAO, UN, BMA and MRC.
  • Papers of the LSHTM Department of Human Nutrition and Applied Nutrition Unit staff and leading figures in the field of nutrition research, including: Benjamin Platt, Patty Fisher, Philip Payne, Erica Wheeler, Prakash Shetty and Mary Griffiths.

Nutrition is one of the most important public health agenda items of the 21st century and the completion of this cataloguing project has opened up this previously inaccessible resource to the medical research community and researchers in associated areas, including epidemiology, anthropology, geography and social, colonial and military history.

Decolonising the Nutrition collection

It is acknowledged that much of the work of the Nutrition Department took place in former colonised countries and we are working towards providing more context on this in the catalogue.

The catalogue is being reviewed for language, terminology, emphasis and omissions as well as updating colonial country and city names. Former and current country names are included in the catalogue to increase accessibility.

The Nutrition collection is extensive and although the focus of the collection is the work of LSHTM staff, there is material on other individuals; the collection will be researched to highlight stories on people who have traditionally been under-represented in the archives such as women and individuals from colonialised countries.

The Nutrition collection includes interesting items that are often used in displays and events, in line with our Decolonising the Archives principles, we will provide more colonial context on these items where relevant.


In May 2008, we were awarded funding from the Wellcome Trust's Research Resources Medical History initiative to preserve, catalogue to international standards of archival description and make accessible over 4500 records relating to nutrition research conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine between the 1920s and 1990s.