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The John Rylands Research Institute

Medical Collections research

Within the medical collections are over twenty separate medical archives, including the private papers of doctors, archives of medical societies, institutional archives, and a large collection of Manchester-related medical documents, known as the Manchester Medical Collection (MMC).

The MMC was the creation of Ernest Bosdin Leech (1875-1950): an antiquarian, honorary physician at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, and president of the Manchester Medical Society. These collections represent a uniquely important resource for the history of medicine and allied sciences from the eighteenth century onwards, providing in-depth coverage of key themes such as medical education, public health, medical professionalization and politics, academic and laboratory medicine, and the development of clinical specialisms.

The collections include:

  • Lecture notes
  • Photographs
  • Illustrations
  • Collection and Library Catalogues
  • Case books
  • Research notes
  • Personal letters
  • Autobiographies
  • Institutional records
  • There is also a huge collection of pre-1700 scientific and medical texts.

Current research project

Alice  Marples, Research Associate, is focusing largely on the Manchester Medical Manuscripts Collection, which consists of over 250 unique manuscripts compiled or collected by some of Manchester’s leading doctors of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including John Hull, Joseph Jordan, Charles Clay, John Windsor and Thomas Radford. She is using them to reconstruct the medical networks of Manchester between 1750 and 1850, exploring processes of education, professionalisation and 'provincial Enlightenment'.

Virginia Dawe-Woodings, Medical Archivist, is managing a cataloguing project of the remaining uncatalogued medical archive and visual collections in the library. The collections include the patient case files of neurosurgeon Geoffrey Jefferson; the medical illustrations of Manchester artist Dorothy Davison and her students; and the papers of William Waugh, Sir John Stopford and Bill Beswick. The cataloguing of these collections has been made possible thanks to a Wellcome Trust grant.