Glasgow & the West

Glasgow has a long history in medicine and health from the unenviable list of ailments that assailed its citizens, through the training and practice of doctors and healers, to the medical giants who advanced knowledge and pioneered the treatment of disease and the easing of suffering.
Below is list of some of the outstanding heritage that can be found in the collections in and around Glasgow.

Argyll and Bute Council Archives

A variety of hospital records are held dating from 1860 to 1987 (the majority date from 1940s-60s) including Boards of Management records. Typically the records are minutes and financial records; architectural drawings; annual reports. Other records of note include an Admission Register and Journal from Dunoon District Cottage Hospital (1885-96); a file on the Emergency Transport of Patients from Mull; and the Rules and Regulations of the West Highland Cottage Hospital.

Manse Brae
PA31 8QU
Tel: 01546 604774

David Livingstone Centre

This birthplace museum contains an important collection of Livingstone's personal belongings including expedition and navigational equipment, original diaries and notebooks, and even the famous red shirt Livingstone was wearing when he met Henry Morton Stanley- "Dr Livingstone I presume?"!

165 Station Road
Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley
G72 9BY
Tel: 0844 493 2207

The British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS)

BMUS is the leading UK body supporting the training and professional development of medical ultrasound practitioners, researchers and sonographers in the UK. The Society originated in 1969 from a conference organised by the Hospital Physicists Association ( a predecessor of the Institute of Physics & Engineering in Medicine ) and the British Institute of Radiology. The Society began as an informal group called the British Medical Ultrasound Group. In 1977 it was affiliated to the European and World Federations of Societies for Ultrasound in Medicine and became the British Medical Ultrasound Society.

Historical Collection
The BMUS historical collection is held in Glasgow and provides a fascinating insight into the development of medical ultrasound. It was established in 1984 to collect, document, preserve, exhibit and interpret artefacts and other material relating to diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound in the UK. The considerable collection includes ultrasound related hardware such as small scanners, transducers as well as photographs, films and video. The collection also has a large manuscript archive containing amongst other things personal accounts, letters, original papers, interviews and books.

The historical documents and manuscripts are housed in the Mitchell Library archives. The unique prototype bed scanner is on display at the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, courtesy of BMUS and Glasgow Life. Other parts of the ultrasound collections are in the care of Glasgow Life.

Access to the Collections
The collections are housed in a number of institutions in Glasgow and are available to BMUS members and others for education, research and interest. If you wish to view or use the collection for exhibition or research, please contact Chris Haydon, Historical Collection Co-ordinator, or the BMUS General Secretary.

Contact details
Mr Chris Haydon
BMU Historical Collection
Ultrasound Department
Derriford Hospital
Tel: 01752 7633256

BMUS General Secretary
The British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS)
36 Portland Place
Tel: 020 7636 3714
Email: or

Dumfries and Galloway Health Board Archives

Archives of hospitals in Dumfries and Galloway region including: patient case notes, administrative records and a collection of patient art work from Crichton Royal Hospital dating from 1839; administrative records of Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary from 1773 and 20th century registers; administrative records of other local hospitals dating from the last 100 years; a photographic collection.

Solway House
Crichton Royal Hospital
T: 01387 267613

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Founded in 1817, the Botanic Gardens moved to its present site at Kelvinside in 1842. Plants were supplied for the botany and medical classes of University of Glasgow. The herb garden includes examples of plants grown for culinary, medicinal, dye and perfumery uses.

730 Great Western Road
Tel: 0141 276 1614

Glasgow Caledonian University Archives

The largely administrative records include the Children 1st (RSSPCC) Archive; the Association of Directors of Social Work Archive; the One Parent Families Scotland Archive; and the Aberlour Child Care Trust Archive.

The Saltire Centre
Glasgow Caledonian University
Cowcaddens Road
Glasgow, G4 0BA
Tel: 0141 273 1188

Heatherbank Museum of Social Work

The only museum totally dedicated to Social Work and welfare in Europe. It contains artefacts, books and pictures relating to the history of social work. The gallery is closed however resources are available from Glasgow Caledonian University Research Collections (see above). Contact: John Powles.

Tel: 0141 273 1189

Lanark Library

The library of the great obstetrician William Smellie (1697-1763) is housed in the local studies collection of Lanark Library. It includes a copy of Smellie’s “Anatomical Tables” corrected by the author himself and a wide range of obstetrical, medical, surgical, anatomical and paediatric works.

16 Hope Street
ML11 7LZ
T: 01555 661144

McLean Museum and Art Gallery

Material relating to Inverclyde hospitals including photographs; postcards; ceremonial items; medical equipment and uniforms.

Open: Mon to Sat 10am - 5pm, closed on public holidays

15 Kelly Street
PA16 8JX
T: 01475 715 624

The Mitchell Library

Archives and Special Collections
Records relating to health and welfare including: cholera and slum clearance; poor relief applications; Medical Officer of Health reports; correspondence and administrative records of Scottish Women’s Hospitals.

North Street
G3 7DN
Web :
T: 0141 287 2910/2988

Moffat Museum

Moffat was established as a spa in the 17th century and had several mineral springs which were used for medicinal purposes. Details about its history can be viewed at the town’s museum.

The Neuk
DG10 9EG
T: 01683 220 868

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Board Archive

One of the largest health authority archives in the UK, consisting principally of the archives of the hospitals in the Glasgow area and in Paisley. Includes the minutes of governing bodies; architects’ drawings of hospitals; photographs; accounts; correspondence; reports; and records of patient care. Also houses the papers of teach obstetrics and midwifery on a scientific basis and the first to lay down safe rules for the use of forceps. He retired to Lanark and is buried near the church of St Kentigern.

University of Glasgow
77-87 Dumbarton Road
G11 6PW
Tel: 0141 330 2992

St Ronan’s Well Visitor Centre

St Ronan’s Well has been attracting visitors since at least the 18th century when Robert Burns tried the famous mineral waters during his visit to the Borders in 1787. Its fame grew after it inspired the novel St. Ronan’s Wells by Walter Scott and it was developed as a mineral spa which attracted visitors from all over Scotland. The pavilion built by the Earls of Traquair in 1827 now houses the well where the mineral waters can still be sampled by visitors.

Wells Brae
EH44 6JE
T: 01721 724820

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Founded in 1599, the RCPSG has a history spanning four centuries. The College enjoys a unique position amongst its sister Colleges in the UK in that its membership includes physicians, surgeons, dentists and specialists in the field of travel medicine.

The College’s founder, Maister Peter Lowe, was a Scottish surgeon who had practiced for a number of years in France. On his return to Scotland he was so horrified at the state of medical practice in Glasgow that he petitioned King James VI to be allowed to establish a regulatory body which would ensure that people acting as doctors (physicians and surgeons) in the city were properly trained. Today, the College offers career support to its membership through education, training, professional development, examinations and assessment, whilst acting as a charity and leading voice on health issues in order to set the highest standards of health care. Membership consists of over 10,000 practitioners worldwide.
In its long history the College has had several homes, initially meeting in different places such as Blackfriars’ Kirk and Hutcheson’s Hospital. The first Faculty Hall was established in the Trongate in 1698 followed by a move in 1791 to larger premises in St Enoch’s Square. A further move was made in 1862 to College’s present building in St Vincent Street.

With over 30,000 volumes, the library dates back to the building of the first Faculty Hall in 1698. The library committee was founded in 1768 and is the oldest committee in College. With its earliest volume dating from 1491, the library now houses works on all aspects of medicine and surgery including very fine and early examples of medical texts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Because of its close association with the city of Glasgow, the library has built up the Glasgow Collection, books relating to Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

The archives of the College date from the early seventeenth century. The first minute book starts in 1602 and the minutes run with just one gap (from 1688-1733 when a minute book was lost in a fire) up until the present day. The majority of the material dates from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and includes examination registers, minutes and records relating to property including plans of Faculty Hall designed by J.J. Burnet in 1892. A large photographic collection contains portraits of many nineteenth century Fellows as well as covering more recent events. The archive is not a static entity and is being added to regularly so that the history of the College is preserved for future generations.

Instrument Collection
Over the years, the College has acquired a collection of medical instruments dating from the eighteenth century right up to the present day. Items include the instruments of William Beatty (d.1842), surgeon aboard HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, a pocket set of instruments of the African explorer and missionary David Livingstone (1813-1873), and an operating table devised by the great Glasgow surgeon, Sir William Macewen (1848-1924).

Art Collection
The art collection contains portraits of past presidents by famous Scottish artists such as Sir Henry Raeburn and Sir Daniel Macnee as well as an interesting and growing number of works by young and contemporary artists, many of which have been purchases from the annual exhibition of the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts.

Access to the Collections
The Library Reading Room is open from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm Mondays to Fridays. Please telephone or email to make an appointment to visit. Guided tours are available on request.

Contact details
Carol Parry
Library and Heritage Manger
232-242 St Vincent Street

G2 5RJ
Tel: 0141 2273234

University of Glasgow

Forensic Medicine Online
This portal allows access to the papers of John Glaister Senior (1856 – 1932) and John Glaister Junior (1892 – 1971), Professors of Forensic Medicine at the University of Glasgow for 75 years and key experts for the Crown authorities. Their papers consist of teaching materials; correspondence; press cuttings; personal papers; photographs; and detailed case notes relating to their involvement in the investigations into some of Glasgow and Scotland’s most notorious crimes.

Tel: 0141 330 5515

The Hunterian

The Hunterian was opened to the public in 1807 and is Scotland’s oldest public museum. It was established around the collections of Dr William Hunter, the celebrated 18th century anatomist, doctor and obstetrician. As a physician and collector, he was unique amongst his contemporaries in several ways, not least in having had the foresight to bequeath his entire museum collections and library to his alma mater, the University of Glasgow, thereby avoiding their dispersal in the salerooms. Hunter also bequeathed £8000 for the construction of a suitable museum.

Hunter’s collections were wide ranging containing coins, paintings, minerals, shells, anatomical and natural history specimens, printed books and manuscripts. The core of the collections are the anatomical preparations made by Hunter and his pupils. This material differs from all other parts of his collection in that it was made and used by Hunter for teaching and research work throughout his long, successful medical career. The anatomical material comprises wet preparations of human, and some animal, tissues and organs, skeletal material, air-dried preparations and some animal taxidermy specimens.

The medical collections have a long and complex history reflecting the intricacies of the history of the University. They were considerably supplemented throughout the 19th century and 20th centuries with new specimens being added by University teaching and research staff. The post-Hunter material includes comparative (animal) anatomy specimens, fine 19th century wax models and specimens made using recent techniques such as corrosion and plastination. The Hunter anatomical collections were moved to the Department of Anatomy in 1901 and were further sub-divided in 1954 when the pathology (morbid anatomy) specimens were removed to the University Department of Pathology at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the centre of the city. However, in 2013, the pathology collections are to be reunited with the anatomy material.

The Hunterian collections also include medical equipment and instruments. Highlights here include Hunter’s own instruments, Joseph Lister’s equipment and the teaching collections of the former Glasgow College of Nursing.

Access to the collections
Parts of the medical collections are on show in the permanent exhibitions, ‘Healing Passion’ and ‘William Hunter: Man, Medic and Collector’ at the main Hunterian Museum, and also in the teaching Museum of Anatomy in the Thomson Building on the main campus at the University of Glasgow.

Contact details
Maggie Reilly, The Hunterian
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel: 0141 330 4221

Prof AP Payne, Laboratory of Human
Anatomy, Thomson Building, University of Glasgow
G12 8QQ
Tel: 0141 330 5871

University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections

Glasgow University’s Special Collections Department is one of the foremost resources in Scotland for academic research and teaching. Built up over a period of more than 500 years by purchase, gift and bequest, the collections now contain more than 200,000 manuscript items and around 200,000 printed works, including over 1,000 incunabula.

Probably the best known of the Library’s rare book collections, the Hunterian Library contains some 10,000 printed books and 650 manuscripts and forms one of the finest eighteenth-century libraries to survive intact. It was assembled by Dr William Hunter. Under the terms of Hunter’s will, his library and other collections remained in London for several years after his death - for the use of his nephew, Dr Matthew Baillie (1761- 1823 ) - and finally came to the University in 1807.

About one third of Hunter’s books – not unnaturally - are to do with medicine, with a good balance struck between the great historical texts (such as editions of Hippocrates, Galen, Vesalius, Harvey) and the writings of his own contemporaries (men like Smellie, the Monros, Albinus, Haller). Anatomy and obstetrics – the two fields in which Hunter made his fame and fortune - are particularly well represented; though an interest in other topics such as naval medicine, the deficiency diseases, inoculation against smallpox, are also represented.

Access to the collections
Semester Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 9.00 - 19.00
Friday: 10.00 - 17.00
Vacation Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 9.00 -17.00
Friday: 10.00 - 17.00

Contact details
Special Collections
Glasgow University Library
Hillhead Street
G12 8QE
Tel: 0141 330 6767

University of Glasgow, Anatomy Museum

The core of William Hunter’s collection was the anatomical and pathological preparations he made and used in his teaching and research. Today this collection is mainly used by medical and science students as a valuable educational resource. It is also open to the public by appointment.

Laboratory of Human Anatomy
Thomson Building
University of Glasgow
Tel: 0141 330 4296

University of Glasgow Archive Services

Records include lists of University of Glasgow medical students from 1803; faculty minutes; class roll books and teaching notes. There are also collections of records of academic staff and students, including Sir William Macewen; Dr Honoria Keer; Dr Thomas Ferguson; and the records of the three other medical schools in Glasgow.

13 Thurso Street
University of Glasgow
G11 6PE
Tel: 0141 330 5515