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Henry Lumley Collections Engagement Grant

About the Grant

The 2023 Henry Lumley Collections Engagement Grant provides UK based researchers with an opportunity to visit to conduct research on a topic centred on the library and archive collections of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. The grant is open to researchers in any field of study.

The successful candidate will spend around six weeks, or the part-time equivalent, at the College researching the collections. The research and mandatory outputs must be completed between July 2023 and March 2024.

The aims of the grant are to facilitate new research into RCS England’s library and archives collections and to raise awareness of the collections amongst the research community and the wider public. The recipient will be expected to engage with the library and archives team, and to disseminate their research outcomes to a variety of audiences.

Note: this grant is not for surgical research: learn more about surgical research fellowships, grants and awards.

The visiting researcher will receive:

  • A grant of £3,000 towards subsistence and travel expenses.
  • Study space in the Library & Archives Research Room at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, during advertised opening hours, in arrangement with the Library and Archives team.
  • Access to staff with specialist knowledge of the collection in question when available.

The visiting researcher will be required to provide:

Essential outputs:

  • An article for the RCS England Bulletin.
  • A blog post.
  • An end of project report.
  • At least one additional output as described in the awardee’s research proposal.

Additional outputs include but are not limited to the following:

  • Digital — recordings, podcasts, digital exhibitions.
  • Research — lecture, conference paper, publication or scholarly digital resource.
  • Live — a talk, seminar, pop-up display, performance.
  • Professional — contributions to catalogue records or collection descriptions.

Acknowledgement of the grant and citation of RCS England Library & Archives in any resulting publications.

RCS England Library & Archives

RCS England holds one of the foremost medical and surgical collections of manuscripts, archives and rare books in the UK. They include extensive collections of medieval manuscripts, early printed books, tracts and original unpublished archive material. The latter includes the institutional archive and personal papers covering a vast range of subject areas.

Please note that only collections managed by the library and archives are in scope, collections managed by the museums are not in scope for this grant.

Library Collections

The library contains modern collections that support teaching surgery, dental surgery, anatomy and pathology, and historic collections that provide a resource to aid the historical understanding of these subjects and many others. The collections include more than 50,000 books (15th century onwards), c. 2,000 periodical runs, and c.30,500 tracts. Many of the items in the collections are rare or unique in terms of marginalia or holdings.

Archive Collections

The archive collections (c. 2,900 boxes) include the College’s own institutional records alongside the “deposited” archive collections. The institutional archives reveal the inner workings of the College (especially before 1950) through minutes, correspondence and records of College projects, research and activities. The “deposited” archive collections (16th century onwards) include diverse material such as personal papers and case notes of surgeons and scientists; lecture notes of significant surgeons and others; correspondence collections between surgeons and prominent members of society; papers of medical/surgical societies; hospital records; and individual items such as recipe books, diaries, and photographs.

Core subject and collection strengths

  • Surgery, surgical specialties and key surgical discoveries and procedures.
  • Dentistry and dental surgery.
  • Anatomy, including a rich collection of anatomical atlases.
  • Surgical instrument catalogues.
  • Surgical education, especially 18th–19th century.
  • Royal College of Surgeons of England and Company of Surgeons (1745–).
  • The work of Presidents or Fellows of the College.
  • Natural history — notably, botany and comparative anatomy.
  • Medical science and public health 15th–20th century.
  • Military medicine and surgery.
  • Medical illustration.
  • Social and cultural history.

Also of interest would be research that explores bibliographical topics or the development of the collections.

For more information on the library collections:

For more information on the archives:

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

The grant is open to UK based researchers, over the age of 18, in any discipline.

The selection committee will consider applications according to the following criteria:

  • The demonstrated need to consult specific items or collections within RCS England’s Library & Archives.
  • The potential of the project to increase public understanding of the materials consulted.
  • The potential of the project to make an original contribution to research and/or to develop innovative research methods for the study of these materials.
  • The feasibility of the research objectives.

Note: this grant is not for surgical research: learn more about surgical research fellowships, grants and awards.

To apply

We are currently closed to applications, but will reopen to research proposals for the 2024-2025 grant in spring 2024.

Before applying, applicants will need to explore the library and/or archive catalogues to assess whether the collections hold the kind of material they wish to use. Before submitting a formal application, applicants are also strongly encouraged to contact the Library & Archives to discuss the level of access to the collections that their proposed research project would require.

Applicants should email the following documents to, with the subject line “Henry Lumley Grant”:

  • A completed Application Form.
  • A research proposal (1,000 words maximum in PDF format). This should specify the anticipated timescale and dates, the items or collections that will be used, how the research will be disseminated, and the expected outcomes during and after the project.
  • A curriculum vitae including a list of publications or other research outputs, as appropriate.
  • Details of two referees who will be able to comment on their professional knowledge of the applicant and the contribution the proposed research would make to scholarship or to wider engagement. We will only contact the referees of shortlisted applicants.
  • An invitation to take up the research grant will be subject to agreement to attend an induction session with library and archives staff.
  • Successful applicants will be notified of the award.

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