We are a team of historians at the University of Nottingham exploring the international history of Boots The Chemists, Britain’s most famous chain of pharmacies. For most of the twentieth century, Boots was also a leading manufacturer of health and beauty products. Most of these products were made at its Beeston factory in Nottingham, UK, and sold across the globe.

We are working extensively with the Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive in Nottingham. Its collection of advertisements, letters, photographs, staff magazines, internal documents, and products provides a rare insight into how British notions of health, beauty, and well-being were exported around the world. While often presented as national achievements, they were always dependent on international networks of materials, knowledge, and people.

Where and from whom did Boots source its raw materials, and how were these presented to shoppers in Britain? How did Boots help British people travel abroad and feel ‘at home’ in parts of the Empire? What happened when Boots tried to set up shops overseas and why did they choose those locations? How did the creation of newly independent states in Africa and Asia force the company to rethink its global identity? How did Boots advertise to different ethnic audiences? What was it like to work for Boots in different parts of the world?

As we discover the answer to these and other questions, we will post our findings in our stories section.

Project Team

Advisory Board

  • Carol Dyhouse

    Carol Dyhouse

    Professor (Emeritus) of History, University of Sussex
  • Geoffrey Jones

    Geoffrey Jones

    Professor, Harvard Business School
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    Graeme Currie

    Professor of Public Management, Warwick Business School
  • James Taylor

    James Taylor

    Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University
  • Lucas Richert

    Lucas Richert

    Professor and George Urdang Chair of Pharmacy History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Nandini Bhattacharya

    Nandini Bhattacharya

    Associate Professor, University of Huston
  • Sarah Stockwell

    Sarah Stockwell

    Professor of Imperial and Commonwealth History, King’s College London
  • Sophie Clapp

    Sophie Clapp

    Company Archivist, Boots UK
  • Stuart Anderson

    Stuart Anderson

    Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Viviane Quirke

    Viviane Quirke

    Senior Lecturer in Modern History and History of Medicine, Oxford Brooks University

Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive

The Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive and Museum Collection contains over 500,000 items chronicling the 175-year history of Britain’s most famous pharmaceutical retailer. The archive is in Nottingham, UK and is open to anyone by appointment. A large portion of the archive is available to search via an online catalogue. The Boots archive team, led by Company Archivist Sophie Clapp, continue to regularly update their digital collections. 

Unless otherwise indicated, all images displayed on this website have been used with kind permission from the Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive. These images remain the property of the Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive and all UK copyright laws apply.

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