Explore Your Archive campaign

Written by on November 16, 2013

The College Library is celebrating the national Explore Your Archive campaign with a special display of some of the College’s archival treasures.  Members of the public visiting the College on Monday afternoons 18th and 25th November and 2nd December from 2.00 pm until 5.00 pm will be able to view precious items such as the Crimean War diary of George Buchanan and a ward journal of the famous Glasgow surgeon, Sir William Macewen. Our President, Dr Frank Dunn, commenting on the very first Faculty minute books says:

First Faculty Minute Book

First Faculty Minute Book

“I have repeatedly in my time as President benefited from the extensive information in our College archives. In particular it is invaluable to still have the minutes of meetings  going back almost to our inception in 1599. The mission statement is essentially unchanged from that time and still guides what I do on a day to day basis.”

The College’s Chief Operating Officer, John Cooper, has taken inspiration from the Crimean diary of surgeon George Buchanan:

Map of the siege of Sebastopol from the Crimean diary of George Buchanan.

Map of the siege of Sebastopol from the Crimean diary of George Buchanan.

“The Crimean War was a turning point in the provision of medical care in war.  George  Buchanan’s diary highlights the struggles and achievements of the then medical organisation. His legacy is seen today in the UK medical facilities in Afghanistan, which continue to be manned by Fellows and Members of this College.”

For the College’s Honorary Librarian, Mr Roy Miller, inspiration comes from the work of Glasgow’s greatest surgeon, Sir William Macewen (1848-1924).  Commenting on a portrait of the young Macewen, Mr Miller states:

William Macewen as a young man

William Macewen as a young man

“The world was not to know that this image of a young surgeon was to be that of a world famous and innovative man in his profession.  Our extensive archive shows some of the cases he dealt with and the records he wrote.”

It has been a group of women and their determination to achieve recognition for their professional work who have particularly inspired Dr Elaine Morrison FRCP(Glasg) to research their story:

Girton and Newnham Unit of the Scottish Women's Hospitals about to embark on board ship at Liverpool, October 1915.

Girton and Newnham Unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals about to embark on board ship at Liverpool, October 1915.

” It’s 1915 and the members of the Girton and Newnham unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals are about to set off for Serbia. Their story is at once compelling and inspirational. On discovering this image, I simply had to find out more.”

If you wish find out more about the treasures in the College’s archives then visit the College website or email: library@rcpsg.ac.uk

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The College’s heritage collections – including thousands of medical and surgical instruments, rare books, archives, and pictures – span over 6 centuries and are an excellent resource for exploring the history of medicine and the history of the city of Glasgow. Many items from the collections have been digitised and are available to view here. Our digitisation work is ongoing, and we add new items to the site regularly, so keep checking back to discover more.

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