This large collection is uneven in its coverage but papers survive from all phases of Synge's life and career.
Section A, Biographical, is extensive. The personal material includes pocket diaries 1926, 1945-1992. There are records of Synge's childhood in the form of school work, reports and printed material, and of his time as an undergraduate at Trinity College Cambridge, principally his lecture notes and work sheets. Documentation of Synge's later career, honours and awards is patchy but there is material relating to the award of the 1952 Nobel prize for Chemistry to Synge and A.J.P. Martin. There is much family material, including correspondence between his parents during their courtship and after their marriage, and their correspondence with him, including many letters during Synge's time at Old Hall School, Winchester College and Trinity College. Family material also includes correspondence with his wife Ann and his sisters Anthea and Katharine. Synge's political interests are not particularly well documented although there is material relating to the Communist Party in the 1940s, the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR 1946-1955 and to his later links with the peace movement including Scientists Against Nuclear Arms 1981-1991. The section also includes many photographs.
Section B, Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, is slight. It includes correspondence and papers relating to Synge's appointment including his statement of proposed work, inventories of equipment and chemicals, and miscellaneous administrative material. There are also papers relating to Synge's visit to Tiselius's laboratory at the Fysikalisk-Kemiska Institution in Uppsala, Sweden.
Section C, Rowett Research Institute, presents documentation of Synge's appointment to the Institute, his headship of the Department of Protein and Carbohydrate Chemistry - including research programmes, equipment and staff, the Agricultural Research Council Visiting Groups to the Institute, and administrative material including sets of Institute notices and circulars. There is also material relating to the Institute's Strathcona Club of which Synge was a loyal member, and a little memorabilia.
Section D, Food Research Institute, is not extensive. It includes correspondence and papers relating to Synge's appointment including his plan of research, comments on Lord Rothschild's 1971 Green Paper A Framework for Government Research and Development, administrative papers from the Chemistry Division, and project reports on Synge's research.
Section E, Research, comprises notebooks and research notes. The notebooks document Synge's research from postgraduate studies in the mid 1930s, through work for the Wool Industries Research Association in Leeds - including the invention and development of partition chromatography, the Lister Institute, Rowett Research Institute and Food Research Institute, to post-retirement work in the 1990s on electronic storage of chemical information. The bulk of the notebooks forms a sequence I-XXVII running from 1938 to ca 1979. There are also notebooks used for references from searches of the Science Citation Index and notebooks used by three collaborators, J.C. Wood, M.A. Youngson and S. Matai. The research notes cover the period 1938-1987. They include reports on work on proteins for the Wool Industries Research Association 1938-1943, wartime work on grass protein 1939-1943 and gramicidin S 1944-1946, studies on the nutritive value of by-products of the herring industry 1949-1951, and papers relating to computer searching for chemical information searches 1981.
Section F, Publications, lectures and broadcasts, documents some of Synge's scientific publications 1940-1992, public lectures 1942-1983 and broadcasts 1947-1961. The publications material is not comprehensive. There are relatively few drafts of Synge's biochemistry publications and the best documented work is Synge's 1990 article '25 years of Science Citation Index - some experiences'. There are translations of articles in the Soviet scientific literature on gramicidin S and correspondence and papers relating to the possible translation from the Russian of Mikhail Semenovich Tsvet 1872-1919 by E.M. Senchenkova. There is also editorial correspondence. Lectures material includes documentation of some of the many public and invitation lectures Synge gave to local and university branches of learned societies and professional associations. They include his 1951 Second P.F. Frankland Memorial Lecture, 'Biological aspects of proteins in the light of recent chemical studies' to the Royal Institute of Chemistry and the Institution of Electrical Engineers. Again, there are few drafts, the bulk of the material is correspondence regarding arrangements. The section also includes drafts found in Synge's two folders inscribed `Unpublished etc' including book reviews and drafts on the history of science, and a set of the collected off-prints of Synge's published work. References to Synge's publications in this catalogue refer to the List of Publications at A/1 and appear in the form Bibliog. ...
Section G, Visits, conferences and travel, covers the period 1945-1992. The most extensively documented visit is Synge's extended stay in New Zealand 1958-1959. There is correspondence relating to arrangements, documentation of Synge's research and material relating to other engagements fulfilled during his stay. There is also material relating to the return journey, including travel on the Trans-Siberian railway. Other visits for which significant documentation survives are the 1955 International Wool Textile Research Conference in Australia, the International Symposium on the Origins of the Earth, Moscow, USSR, 1957, Synge's visits to India as a guest of the Indian Statistical Institute in 1965, 1966 and 1970, and his visit to Cuba in May 1969. There is also material relating to Synge's award of the Nobel Prize. He attended gatherings of Nobel laureates at Lindau, West Germany on several occasions and returned to Stockholm for other Nobel-related events. Synge often took his family on his visits and this is sometimes reflected in the material.
Section H, Societies and organisations, documents Synge's involvement with 24 UK and overseas organisations from ca 1936 to 1993. There is material relating to the Agricultural Research Council, principally the Ruminant Metabolism Group 1949-1953 and N.W. Pirie's proposals for research on the extraction of leaf protein 1951-1953. Also well-documented is the Association of Scientific Workers 1938-1966. Synge was an enthusiastic supporter of the Association and served as a Vice-President from 1954. Other bodies for which there is significant material are the Biochemical Society - Synge served on the Editorial Board of the Biochemical Journal 1949-1955, the British Nutrition Foundation - Synge was a scientific governor of the Foundation 1974-1979, the Royal Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry - particularly relating to its Chemical Information Group, 1984-1987.
Section J, Correspondence, is substantial and important. There is a main sequence of principal correspondents including A.C. Chibnall, S.R. Elsden, Hugh Gordon, Dorothy Hodgkin, J.H. Humphrey, H.R. Marston, A.J.P. Martin, Stanford Moore, N.W. Pirie, P.L. Robinson, F. Sanger and Arne Tiselius. There is also a chronological sequence of shorter scientific correspondence, requests for off-prints, and references and recommendations.