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Group photograph of members of the Scottish Women's Hospitals about to embark from Liverpool bound for Serbia - RCPSG Archive

Jennifer Lightbody - Cohort visit to Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Jennifer Lightbody, Outreach and Engagement Trainee, Glasgow City Archives

As part of my traineeship, I am interested in finding out about other archives –what they hold, how they run and who uses their holdings.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow kindly hosted a visit for some of the cohort three trainees on 31 October, and gave us a tour of their archives and library.

The archives house a wide variety of textbooks, bound pamphlets on a range of subjects and also fine art, which I wasn’t expecting to see!  The new art storage racks allow the art to be easily visible, rather than packaged up.  The rare book store holds a number of collections including that of William Mackenzie, co-founder of the Glasgow Eye Infirmary.  His collection of medical textbooks, in a number of languages, was donated by his son after his death.  The work done by volunteers in helping catalogue and preserve the collections was apparent throughout the tour.

We visited the instrument room, where some of the more toe-curling items are kept.  Drawers of dentist’s instruments complemented the false teeth made from hippopotamus ivory in the display cases outside the lower library.  

A digitisation project is currently underway to photograph all the instruments to make them accessible to a wider audience. 

The last stop on our tour was the library, housing books on the history of medicine and of Glasgow, Medical Directories and a number of journals.  It also displays the JJ Audubon book, ‘The Birds of America’ – a huge volume with incredible detail. 

It was a really interesting visit, especially to see the wide range of objects that are held.  I have walked past the building numerous times with no idea of what was held inside… 

Thanks to Ross McGregor for organising the visit and to Andrew McAinsh and Clare Harrison for hosting the tour.

You can find out more about the RCPSG Archive here.