Bernal Peace Collection

You are here

Back to top

John Desmond Bernal (1901-1971) was one of the most eminent scientists of the twentieth century whose research had a groundbreaking impact across the medical humanities, from x-ray crystallography research, to the impact of war on human life. He was a passionate socialist and visionary of the beneficial role of science in society and a driving force in world-wide peace campaigning. His archives and library were divided between the Marx Memorial Library, where he was President 1950-1971, which holds his political papers, and Cambridge University where he studied and worked, home to his scientific archive.

Bernal’s ‘peace library’ was donated to the MML in 1979. It comprises 35 linear metres of material including

  • The papers of Bernal himself relating to articles and lectures on peace and scientific themes, in addition to photographs and audiovisual material
  • Papers of Eileen Bernal, his wife, including newspaper scrapbooks on conflicts of the twentieth century and papers of Pensioners for Peace
  • Other archives on similar themes including papers of Ivor Montagu, papers relating to the Lenin Peace Prize, and those of other peace groups including, for example, the Manchester Anti-Nuclear Group.
  • Series of congress, meeting and organisational reports and papers, from the World Peace Council, the Pugwash conferences - addressing the impact of war on humanity -, and other national and international bodies
  •  A collection of pamphlets covering subjects including the nuclear threat, the potential impact of nuclear war and disarmament campaigns
  • A library of books on science and peace

Bernal material on our catalogue can be browsed here.


Bernal – scientist and socialist – was a life-long campaigner for peace. He was president of the Marx Memorial Library 1950-71 and his library was donated to the MML in 1979. The library includes reports from UN committees and international conferences, in addition to runs of periodicals on all aspects of twentieth century campaigns for peace.