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The Wolfson Foundation archive


Since 2008, the Royal Society Library has managed the archive of historic grants files belonging to The Wolfson Foundation.

The Foundation is an independent charity, established in 1955 by Sir Isaac Wolfson, and awards grants to support and promote excellence in the fields of science, technology and medicine, as well as supporting the arts and education.

Science funding has been a key focus for the Foundation since its inception, and the highest proportion of its grant-giving is directed towards supporting cutting edge scientific research and institutions. 

The Wolfson Foundation archive is searchable through the Royal Society’s collections catalogue. Access to these files is by prior appointment only, and readers who wish to view material from the archive must have permission from the Wolfson Foundation beforehand.

To arrange to view material from the archive, please visit the Wolfson Foundation’s website for details. If you have any other questions about the archive, you can also contact us at

With the kind permission of the Wolfson Foundation, the Royal Society presents here a selection of stories and digitised documents from the Foundation’s archive.

Explore the Wolfson archive

Wreck detection at Acre

The Foundation supported the 1966 Anglo-Israeli Archaeological expedition in their search for shipwrecks off the coast of Acre.

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Wolfson funding was used to establish the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University in 1959.

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Institute of Criminology
Wellington portrait - Goya

The Foundation helped purchase a nineteenth century portrait of Francisco de Goya, The Duke of Wellington, for the nation… only to see it get stolen from the National Gallery!

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Norman Wingate Pirie’s leaf protein research at Rothamsted Experimental Station in the 1960s and 70s was supported by several Foundation grants.

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Sir William Lawrence Bragg led the Royal Institution’s appeal to the Wolfson Foundation in 1959, seeking to improve science teaching in schools. 

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The Royal Opera House performed a new production of Tchaikovsky in 1970 thanks to funding from Wolfson, who also supported refurbishment work to keep a roof over the performers’ heads in 1979.

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Royal Opera House
Dorothy Hodgkin

In 1959, the Royal Society approached the Foundation to establish the Wolfson Research Professorship, first held by Dorothy Hodgkin FRS in 1960.

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A brand-new stadium was built in the late 1960s at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, supported by the Wolfson Foundation.

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Wolfson College Oxford

A £1.5 million endowment from the Foundation that established the all-graduate Wolfson College at Oxford University in 1966.

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£2 million from the Foundation helped fund permanent buildings for Wolfson College, the first mixed-gender college at Cambridge University, in 1971.

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Lee Seng Tee Library. Courtesy of Wolfson College, Cambridge, photographer Keith Heppell.
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