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Blood RelationsTransfusion and the Making of Human Genetics$
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Jenny Bangham

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226739977

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226740171.001.0001

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Blood Groups at War

Blood Groups at War

(p.60) Three Blood Groups at War
Blood Relations

Jenny Bangham

University of Chicago Press

When the Second World War began, Fisher’s lab was co-opted by the Medical Research Council, renamed the Galton Serum Unit, and tasked with providing practical support for the new Emergency Blood Transfusion Service (EBTS). This chapter follows the Galton Serum Unit as it supported the new transfusion service, and made its wartime infrastructure serve genetic research. The EBTS—the establishment of which was driven in part by hematologist and depot director Janet Vaughan—comprised bottles, tubes, needles, sterilizers, refrigerators, transportation (crates and vans), institutions (the Post Office, blood depots, volunteer donor organizations, hospitals, and laboratories for blood processing and testing), and an extensive paper-based bureaucracy. A large cohort of clerks managed index cards, lists, letters, enrollment forms, donor cards, and labels, with which they managed people and blood. This chapter is about how blood-group research was shaped by these materials and networks, and how blood groups were negotiated between people with different interests. It is also a story about what can be done with paper—as scientists transformed the donor records of the transfusion services into the raw data of human inheritance.

Keywords:   Second World War, clerks, Medical Research Council, transfusion, Galton Serum Unit, Janet Vaughan, Emergency Blood Transfusion Service, infrastructure, paper, blood

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