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Atomic co-ordinates/amino-acid sequencing, 1956-1967


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This is a series of stiff-backed looseleaf binders like those used for the main myoglobin programme, but unnumbered and usually untitled. They relate to a two-pronged analysis of the structure of the myoglobin molecule using organic chemical methods in conjunction with X-ray crystallography. The determination of the amino-acid sequence of myoglobin had been suggested as a timely research project by Kendrew as early as 1955 to Stanford Moore and W.B. Stein at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York, and from 1956 A.B. Edmundson persued this research first in America and then from 1961 to 1964 at the MRC Unit in Cambridge. For the crystallographers, the achievement of the high 2-Å resolution and later the even finer 1.4-Å made it possible to identify many more side-chains than previously, and to assign spatialco-ordinates to many of the atoms in the molecule. By the time of his Nobel Lecture Kendrew was able to say: "From the results of the X-ray and chemical studies, today some 120 amino acid residues are known with almost complete certainty and many of the remaining 30 are known with a fair degree of probability." (Science, art cit. 1963)

The material covers a long period of time from June 1956 when Kendrew and Edmundson began work on the project to 1967 and the circulation of the lists of co-ordinates; there is also a little later work in 1968 and 1970. The content and timespan of each binder may also be very diverse even within the labelled sub-dividers. They include correspondence and work or results from colleagues and collaborators, in particular Edmundson and Watson. A high proportion, however, is in Kendrew's own hand and shows the considerable detailed work undertaken and his careful checking at all stages.


  • Creation: 1956-1967

Language of Materials

  • English

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. d. 2204-2212

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom