October 17, 2018, by Kathryn Steenson

MRI project gets under way

This is a guest post by Zoe Ellis, MRI Project Archivist.

Manuscripts and Special Collections recently started work on an exciting 12 month project entitled ‘Development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the University of Nottingham’.  This project is funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources award of just under £100,000.

An elderly Mansfield, dressed in a suit, standing next to a modern MRI

Sir Peter Mansfield

The project will catalogue, preserve and selectively digitise the papers of the Nobel Prize winning physicist Professor Sir Peter Mansfield and two other scientists involved in the development of MRI at Nottingham, Professor Raymond Andrew and Professor Brian Worthington, together with associated records of the British Radiofrequency Spectroscopy Group.  The project will also open up the collections for teaching and research to tell the story of the pioneering work on MRI undertaken in Nottingham.

MRI changed the face of modern medicine. It enabled doctors to see for the first time detailed images of the anatomy and physiological processes of the interior of the living body without the potential harmful effects of radiation or invasive surgery.  Today over 60 million investigations with MRI are carried out worldwide every year.  Sir Peter Mansfield, who died in February 2017, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (with Professor Paul Lauterbur) in 2003 for ‘discoveries concerning magnetic resonance imaging’.

Archive box of film negatives in their boxesArchive box of folders







The MRI-related collections held by MSC contain material such as research notes, publications, patents, lecture notes, personal papers, photographs, videotapes and a huge quantity of 35 mm slides.  The Wellcome Trust’s grant will allow MSC to fully catalogue this material and properly preserve it for the future. Transforming access to these linked collections will create a unique research resource for the study of the development of MRI at Nottingham, with important implications for our understanding of the past, present and future of large-scale medical innovation.

The team working on the project within MSC consists of a Project Archivist, Archives Assistant and Digitisation Assistant.  During this project the team will be working closely with an interdisciplinary Advisory Group of academics who will be providing professional and technical support.

It is also hoped that the project will lead to the discovery of further records relating to MRI and inspire other scientists to donate their records, so developing Manuscripts and Special Collections as a centre for research into the development of MRI.

Journals and printed proceedings of scientific societies archived as part of the projectThe original manuscripts and rare books are part of Manuscripts & Special Collections at The University of Nottingham, and once the project is completed will be available to view in the Reading Room at KMC. We will be making further blog posts throughout the project, providing updates on our progress and telling you more about the interesting things we find in the MRI collections. More information about our holdings and the online catalogues is available from our website, by following us @mssUniNott and from our newsletter Discover.




Posted in Cataloguing