The MRI story safely preserved after huge archive project

Monday, 16 December 2019

A picture of Sir Peter Mansfield in a model MRI scanner from the 1970’s and thousands of the first ever scans are amongst a new archive charting the story of MRI in Nottingham.

 The MRI Collections Project was undertaken by Manuscripts and Special Collections (MSC) to catalogue, preserve and selectively digitise the papers of the Nobel Prize winning physicist Professor Sir Peter Mansfield and two other scientists involved in the development of MRI at Nottingham, Professor Raymond Andrew and Professor Brian Worthington. The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Historic images that may have gone unseen were unearthed as part of the project including pictures of Sir Peter lying in a model of an MRI scanner and one of the first magnets used in an MRI machine.

The project to catalogue and index over two hundred boxes of papers, slides, photographs, films and videos has resulted in the creation of over 5,000 catalogue records and 13,000 digital images made of original 35 mm slides which include some of the first ever MRI scans of the human body. The new digital images were created using a bespoke camera rig that photographed each slide, these were then assessed by archivists and catalogued.

As well as the MRI slides this unique collection also contains research papers, notes, audio recordings and many papers relating to patents - Sir Peter applied for a great many patents for his MRI-related inventions and techniques and was vigorous in enforcing them.  

“The University of Nottingham played a world leading role in the development of MRI. Manuscripts and Special Collections is delighted to have preserved, catalogued and selectively digitised the papers of Professor Sir Peter Mansfield and other scientists involved in this pioneering work. It has been a truly fascinating project to see how the story of MRI unfolded here in Nottingham and we are delighted to have played a part in preserving its legacy for the future. The collections will now be made available to researchers so that they can tell the story of the development of this important technological process.
Mark Dorrington, Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections

There is a special research workshop taking place on 9thJanuary where Mark Dorrington will present the collection. Register here to attend.

The catalogues for all the collections: Peter MansfieldBrian WorthingtonRaymond Andrew and the BRSG are also available online via the Manuscripts and Special Collections Online Catalogue and viewing can also be arranged by contacting the Manuscripts and Special Collections team.

Some of Peter Mansfield’s work will also be on display at the Science Museum in London where the first MRI machine will be featured as part of the world’s largest medicine galleries exhibition. The exhibition will show more than 3,000 medical artefacts, striking artworks, interactive games and immersive experiences that bring the history of medicine to life and runs from the 16thNovember.

Story credits

More information is available from Mark Dorrington on 0115 951 4563, or Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science on 0115 74 86462 or

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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