Skip to main content

Correspondence and papers of Alexander George Ogston


  • How to
The surviving material is not large, mainly because of Ogston's travels to and from Australia and his preference (stated in the correspondence) for travelling light. Thus, there is little biographical material or personal correspondence. The main content relates to research projects and publications. Ogston's own designations of his folders have been preserved.

The collection contains:

Section A: Biographical and Personal [MSS. Eng. misc. b. 408-410]

Section B: Scientific Research and Publications [MSS. Eng. misc. b. 410-416]

List of research topics:
  1. Cell fusion [MS. Eng. misc. b. 410]
  2. Complex boundaries [MS. Eng. misc. b. 410]
  3. Corneal swelling [MS. Eng. misc. b. 410]
  4. Diffusion and sedimentation [MSS. Eng. misc. b. 411-413]
  5. Enzyme kinetics [MS. Eng. misc. b. 413]
  6. Enzymes: molecular weights [MS. Eng. misc. b. 413]
  7. Enzyme specificity and 'Three-point attachment' [MS. Eng. misc. b. 413]
  8. Equilibrium reactions [MS. Eng. misc. b. 414]
  9. Hyaluronic acids (HA) [MS. Eng. misc. b. 415]
  10. Measuring devices [MSS. Eng. misc. b. 415-416]
  11. Mustard gas [MS. Eng. misc. b. 416]
  12. Oxidative phosphorylation [MS. Eng. misc. b. 416]
Section C: Correspondence [MS. Eng. misc. b. 417-418]


  • 1933-1980


11 boxes

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MSS. Eng. misc. b. 408].
Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. misc. b. 408-418

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 6783

Biographical / Historical

Alexander George Ogston was born on 30 January 1911, in Bombay, India. When Ogston was three, his family returned to the UK and lived in and around London. From ages eight to thirteen he attended Kingston Hill Preparatory School. He was offered a scholarship at Eton, where he started as a classics scholar, but soon after switched to chemistry.

In 1929 Ogston was awarded a Brackenbury Scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1933 he achieved a first-class honours degree in chemistry. In 1933 he applied for and was granted a limited-period Junior Demonstratorship in Balliol. His research interests shifted towards biochemistry.

In 1935 Ogston accepted a Freedom Research Fellowship to work on proteins with Ensor R. Holliday at the London Hospital. It was during this period that he first became interested in apparent anomalies in the ultracentrifugal behaviour and osmotic pressures of mixtures of proteins that became a recurring theme in his research.

Balliol offered Ogston a Fellowship in 1937 and agreed that he could spend the first year reading honours physiology while at the same time performing the tutorial teaching of first-year and second-year medical students. He was appointed Departmental Demonstrator at the Department of Biochemistry in 1938. These two appointments carried with them heavy teaching responsibilities.

From 1938 to 1959 (with a few breaks during World War II) Ogston carried the full load of tutorial teaching of medical students and later of biochemists, as well as pursuing his own research. 1945–1955 was Ogston’s most enterprising and productive period. It was during this time that the long-sought solution to the ultracentrifugal anomaly was reached, as the Johnston–Ogston effect (1946), and the Ogston three-point attachment paper was written (1948). He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society and appointed Reader in Biochemistry in 1955.

In 1959 he took up an appointment as Professor of Physical Biochemistry at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University (A.N.U.) in Canberra, where he remained until 1970. He then returned to Oxford as President of Trinity College. On his retirement in 1978 he held Visiting Fellowships at the Institute for Cancer Research, Philadelphia, and the John Curtin School of Medical Research, A.N.U., where the late research was undertaken.

Ogston was awarded the Davy Medal in 1986. He died on 29 June 1996.

Other Finding Aids

A fuller description and detailed index are available in the Library and at The National Archives.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The main bulk of the material was made available by Dr. Ogston on his retirement from Oxford in 1978. Sets of late research notes and drafts were passed on by Ogston in November 1980.
Correspondence and papers of Alexander George Ogston
Lawrence Mielniczuk
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom