Papers of Edith Bülbring now available

A catalogue of papers of Edith Bülbring (1903-90), pharmacologist and physiologist, has just been published. Bülbring, one of a number of academics who left Germany in the 1930s as the fascist regime gained power, arrived in Oxford in 1937 as research assistant to J H Burn, Professor of Pharmacology. In the late 1940s she began independent research on the physiology of smooth muscle. She was to become a leading authority in that field. In 1967 she was appointed to a personal professorship.

The papers contain correspondence, photographs and other biographical materials, and material relating to the Vogt family of Berlin. Professor Oskar Vogt and his wife, Cecile, were prominent neuro-anatomists. Their daughter, Marthe (1903-2003), a pharmacologist, worked with Edith Bülbring in Berlin. She left for England in 1935 and, with Bülbring’s help, found work initially in London. Posts at Cambridge and Edinburgh Universities followed. Her research made important contributions to the understanding of the role of neurotransmitters in the brain.

edith typescript
Extract from a letter by Edith Bülbring in support of
Marthe Vogt’s appeal against internment, 1940
[Bodleian Library, MS. Eng. c. 7890]

Further papers of Edith Bülbring are held at the Wellcome Library, Archives and Manuscripts Section. Also held there are papers relating to Marthe Vogt and her family. The archive of the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, held by the Bodleian Library, contains correspondence with Edith Bülbring and Marthe Vogt.

Edith Bülbring was also an exceptionally talented musician and is remembered in Oxford for her two grand pianos and playing for friends. A former student, Professor Terence Ryan, recalls:

‘Her lecture on cardiac muscle, with her accent and the slightly sing-song sound of her voice, came to a musical high point when she likened the sensation of extrasystoles [‘skipped heartbeat’] to a Schubertian change of key.’

The papers are available to researchers in the Special Collections Reading Room of the Bodleian Library. The catalogue is at

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