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Library Blog

  1. 17
    Mar
    2017

    Collections on the move: Surgical tools, chemical sponges, papers, pastes and a lot of decision making

    The role of conservation during the Library's decant project for the upcoming rebuild.

    Kostas Tsafaridis

  2. 10
    Mar
    2017

    Jessie Dobson (1906-1984): Hunterian Museum's first female curator

    Jessie Dobson has a unique place in the history of the Hunterian Museum, becoming its first female curator in 1954.

    Geraldine O’Driscoll

  3. 3
    Mar
    2017

    Sir John Simon

    October 2016 marked the 150th anniversary of the Sanitary Act (1866), which Sir John Simon (10 October 1816 – 23 July 1904), pathologist, surgeon and public health reformer, was influential in bringing about.

    Fahema Begum

  4. 24
    Feb
    2017

    Collections on the move: Rare books and incunabula - making our collection visible

    Incunabula and rare books from the collection, as seen during the recent Cataloguing Project.

    Sarah Kennedy

  5. 17
    Feb
    2017

    The dangers of tight lacing: the effects of the corset

    A look at the medical effects of tight corsets as worn by women in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Susan Isaac

  6. 10
    Feb
    2017

    Collections on the Move: How Project Transform will improve RCS’s Library, Museums and Archives Services

    Considering the many opportunities that the RCS's Project Transform will provide for the Library, Museums and Archives.

    Library, Museums and Archives staff

  7. 3
    Feb
    2017

    Rat Day: Boston, 13 February 1917

    This month marks 100 years since the first and only “Rat Day”, held in Boston on 13 February 1917. The finale to the Boston Rat Campaign led by the Boston Women’s Municipal League (BWML), the day saw prizes offered for the highest number of dead rats delivered to designated sanitary yards.

    Susan Isaac

  8. 27
    Jan
    2017

    Holocaust Memorial Day: the life of Eric Strach

    Eric Strach FRCS (1914-2011), an orthopaedic surgeon who worked in Liverpool, was one of a number of Fellows and Members who lost relatives in the Holocaust and worked in the concentration camps after they were liberated by the Allies.

    Sarah Gillam

  9. 20
    Jan
    2017

    Collections on the move

    Later this year we’ll be moving to temporary accommodation during the redevelopment of our home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. We hosted an event in the Barry Reading Room a few months ago, showcasing how the Library, Museum and Archive teams are preparing for the move.

    Susan Isaac

  10. 13
    Jan
    2017

    MacCormac's Locked Book

    Sometimes in the archives we come across material which is not easily accessible. This was the case with the accounts book of Sir William MacCormac, which had remained locked for (possibly) over a century.

    Virginia Dawe-Woodings

  11. 6
    Jan
    2017

    Ethicon Cat-a-log

    The internet is full of cats doing funny things, but this isn’t just a recent phenomenon. Harry Pointer produced humorous pictures of his pet cats mimicking human activities in the 1870s.

    Susan Isaac

  12. 23
    Dec
    2016

    Festive Archives

    You might be forgiven for thinking that a medical archive wouldn’t contain much that is festive in nature. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to know that the Royal College of Surgeons archives contain a number of seasonal items.

    Geraldine O’Driscoll

  13. 16
    Dec
    2016

    Medical fiction for popular readers: The Stark Munro Letters (1895)

    Better known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle was also a graduate of medicine from the University of Edinburgh and had a short-lived career as a general practitioner and ophthalmologist. Alongside his detective stories, he wrote fiction inspired by his experiences of medical practice. His novella The Stark Munro Letters (1895) follows the early struggles of a young practitioner.

  14. 9
    Dec
    2016

    Mapping disease: John Snow and Cholera

    Cholera was one of the deadliest diseases to affect Britain in the nineteenth century. On the 150th anniversary of the fourth and final London pandemic in 1866, Fahema Begum looks at the work of John Snow, who's work was instrumental in the fight against the disease.

  15. 2
    Dec
    2016

    Conserve our Collections Event 2016

    On the 16th November we welcomed over 40 guests to our annual Conserve our Collections event. It’s an opportunity to promote the scheme and allow our guests to see items they have helped to conserve.

  16. 25
    Nov
    2016

    A Very Large Collection of Very Small Things

    Some of the finest microscope slides in the RCS museum collection were produced by John Thomas Quekett, who built a collection of slides giving the most astonishing overview of the natural world on a microscopic scale.

  17. 18
    Nov
    2016

    ClinicalKey: a resource RCS Members need to know about

    We see ClinicalKey as a valuable resource and members at all levels can access ClinicalKey using their College Login details.

  18. 11
    Nov
    2016

    Victoria Cross Winners

    Only three people have received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, twice, and of these, two were surgeons – Arthur Martin-Leake FRCS and Noel Chavasse MRCS.

  19. 4
    Nov
    2016

    21,500 tracts and pamphlets available to view online: UK Medical Heritage Library project

    The shelves of our Erasmus Wilson Gallery are once again full as our contribution to the UK Medical Heritage Library is complete.

  20. 28
    Oct
    2016

    ​Skeletal rabbits at Halloween – Osteographia by William Cheselden

    The man who famously healed a blind boy by removing a clouded lens, and introduced the technique of ”cutting laterally for the stone” , was also the author of one of the truly memorable anatomical works of the period, Osteographia

  21. 21
    Oct
    2016

    The Great History Bake Off: Baking and Medicine in Early Modern Recipe Books

    Many of the foods which we enjoy today have their origins in the medical world. The recipe books in the Archives are excellent examples of the historical cross-overs between medicine and cooking.

  22. 14
    Oct
    2016

    Facsimile exhibition: Unusual and exceptional prizes

    Our new facsimile exhibition in the display cases on the ground floor reveal some of the College’s historic prize essays, some of which stand out for reasons other than their written text – due either to the beauty or nature of their illustrations, or to the significance of their author.

  23. 7
    Oct
    2016

    Sporting Surgeons

    After an exciting summer watching Olympics and Paralympics in Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil, now is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the achievements of our very own Olympic champion, Lord Porritt, who won a bronze medal ninety-two years ago.

  24. 21
    Apr
    2016

    Vaccination, Medicine and the Masses

    Vaccination is a medical procedure that is familiar to most of us. From babyhood to our later years, we are offered vaccinations to fight an ever-changing roster of diseases.

    Sally Frampton, University of Oxford

  25. 4
    Apr
    2016

    Samuel Gaskell’s Jacksonian Prize Essay: On the nature of the Processes of Suppuration and Ulceration - Illustrations, (1837)

    Samuel Gaskell’s "illustrations" includes 15 thin membranes of blood vessels, and 37 pieces of leathery ileum - and all are human specimens.

    Ginny Dawe-Woodings, Archives Project Cataloguer

  26. 22
    Mar
    2016

    Back from the Binders – William Woods’s Zoography; or, the beauties of nature displayed (1807)

    William Wood FRS, FLS (1774-1857) originally trained as a surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He turned to the study of natural history with a particular interest in sea shells, for which he remains famous.

    Thalia Knight, Director of Library & Surgical Information Services

  27. 11
    Mar
    2016

    The Circle of Willis

    Visitors to the "Designing Bodies" exhibition will no doubt have seen the exquisite resin corrosion casts prepared by David Tompsett, including the cast of the arterial supply of the brain, demonstrating the arterial circle of Willis.

    Susan Standring, Emeritus Professor of Anatomy, King’s College London

  28. 4
    Mar
    2016

    International Women's Day 2016

    In celebration of International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March 2016, we would like to share some of the items in our collections that relate to the pioneering women who led the way for women to qualify as practising surgeons and members of the RCS.

    Sophie Gibbs, Senior Information Assistant

  29. 26
    Feb
    2016

    Back from the Binders – Francis Mason’s Cleft Lip and Palate (1877)

    This week we received our latest batch of conservation binding which had been funded via the Conserve our Collections programme.

    Hilary Webb, LSIS Collections Manager

  30. 16
    Feb
    2016

    Frozen in Time

    Plaster is peculiar stuff. As a chalky powder, heavier than dust, it can pervade a wide area. As a fluid it is mercurial and insubstantial, and could almost pass for milk.

    Sam Alberti, Director of Museums and Archives

  31. 12
    Feb
    2016

    Happy Birthday, William Clift! (14/2/1775–20/6/1849)

    As it is William Clift’s birthday on St Valentine’s Day, we thought it was only right to acknowledge the debt of gratitude the Royal College of Surgeons of England owes to him.

    Geraldine O’Driscoll, Library & Archives Assistant

  32. 5
    Feb
    2016

    Our contribution to digital UK Medical Heritage Library is almost complete

    Soon the shelves in our Erasmus Wilson Gallery will again be full: we have nearly completed our contribution to the UK Medical Heritage Library.

    Dorothy Fouracre, Collections Librarian

  33. 29
    Jan
    2016

    Plarr's Lives of the Fellows

    At the beginning of this month, January 2016, after eight or so years of work, the editorial team in the Library finished uploading all nine of the printed volumes of Plarr’s Lives.

    Sarah Gillam, Assistant Editor

  34. 25
    Jan
    2016

    "Anatomy as Art" Facsimile Display

    The College’s collections are rich with artistic illustrations depicting human anatomy.

    Geraldine O’Driscoll, Library & Archives Assistant

  35. 15
    Jan
    2016

    Elsevier ClinicalKey

    The Library is pleased to announce its new subscription to Elsevier’s ClinicalKey resource.

    Library Services

  36. 8
    Jan
    2016

    Collections Review project is child’s play

    Occasionally we come across markings in books which remind us of their past role as personal objects: markings by children.

    Dorothy Fouracre, Collections Review Assistant

  37. 18
    Dec
    2015

    The Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 3

    We hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about the fascinating collection of books, archives and museum items that are held in our Designated collections.

    Collections Review Team

  38. 11
    Dec
    2015

    The Twelve Days of Christmas Part - 2

    As part of the RCS Collections Review project, the Museum’s visual works are currently being assessed. This category includes sculptures, pencil drawings, prints, oil paintings, pastels and watercolours.

    Collections Review Team

  39. 4
    Dec
    2015

    The Twelve Days of Christmas - Part 1

    Our Collections Review project, which has been running throughout 2015, has given us unprecedented insight into the College’s museum, library and archive holdings.

    Collections Review Team

  40. 13
    Nov
    2015

    Insecten-Belustigung (1746–1761) – August Johan Rösel

    August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof, 1705–1759, was born in Augustenburg and, having shown an early artistic talent, was apprenticed first to his uncle, the artist Wilhelm Röselvon Rosenhof, and then to Johan Daniel Preisler.

    Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

  41. 26
    Aug
    2015

    Captain James Cook - the First Voyage

    On 26th August 1768, Captain James Cook (1728-1779) embarked on his first voyage of discovery aboard HMS Endeavour from Plymouth.

    Steffi Sams

  42. 21
    Aug
    2015

    William Wykeham Myers - early medical education in China

    Recently, our attention was drawn to a rare item in our collection: a report on a late 19th century experimental medical education scheme in China, which included a set of fascinating photographs.

    Steffi Sams

  43. 18
    Aug
    2015

    Thomas Willis - Cerebri anatome - 1664

    Many of the magnificent plates in Thomas Willis’ Cerebri anatome were drawn by Sir Christopher Wren.

    Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

  44. 14
    Aug
    2015
  45. 12
    Aug
    2015

    Charles Estienne - La dissection des parties du corps humain 1546

    Charles Estienne (1504-1564) was a 16th century French anatomist and came from a family of publishers and printers.

    Steffi Sams

  46. 7
    Aug
    2015

    A Guide for Medical Students - 1874

    This fascinating little book is the Guide de l'Étudiant en Médecine et en Pharmacie 1874-1875 by Joseph Auguste Aristide Fort, a guide for medical students of the Paris medical school and full of details on courses and their content, term time calendar, lecturers and examinations, similar to the way medical schools today provide this information on their websites.

    Steffi Sams

  47. 4
    Aug
    2015

    Hamsters in the Library

    Our Collections Review project is highlighting some gems of the Library’s historical medical and surgical holdings.

    Dorothy Fouracre

  48. 31
    Jul
    2015

    Naval Surgeons and Marine exploration in the 19th century

    This week, the Wildlife Trusts celebrate the UK's amazing sea animals and plants during National Marine Week.

    Emmy Bocaege

  49. 28
    Jul
    2015

    William Cheselden - Osteographia or the anatomy of the bones, 1733

    This outstanding book has been reviewed as “the most magnificent work of its kind now extant”. In it, Cheselden gives full and accurate descriptions of all the bones of the human body and many animal ones.

    Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

  50. 24
    Jul
    2015

    Sir Jonathan Hutchinson (1828 - 1913)

    The 23rd of July was the birthday of Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, a former President of the RCS.

    Steffi Sams

  51. 21
    Jul
    2015

    Anonymous Authors Revealed

    On Monday, the 13th of July, there was a very exciting news story for those interested in Victorian literature.

    Sarah Kennedy

  52. 17
    Jul
    2015

    William Clowes – A prooved practice for all young chirurgiens, 1588

    This was only the third surgical textbook to be printed in English.

    Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

  53. 14
    Jul
    2015

    Claude Bernard – A text book of operative surgery and surgical anatomy

    Claude Bernard (12 July 1813 – 10 February 1878) was a French physiologist. He is credited with many contributions to that field and other related disciplines.

    Steffi Sams

  54. 10
    Jul
    2015

    Sir Charles Bell – A system of dissections

    One of the books we used in a small display this week was Sir Charles Bell’s A System of Dissections, explaining the anatomy of the human body, the manner of displaying the parts, and their varieties in disease.

    Steffi Sams

  55. 7
    Jul
    2015

    Micro/Macro: Natural History Models at the College

    As teaching models have been important surgical training tools for more than a century, it is not surprising that the Royal College of Surgeons of England holds a large Models and Casts collection.

    Emmy Bocaege

  56. 3
    Jul
    2015

    Facsimile exhibition – Académie des Sciences

    Our new facsimile exhibition in the Library showcases the 17th and early 18th explorations of the scientists in service of the French Académie des Sciences.

    Steffi Sams

  57. 1
    Jul
    2015

    Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz - Opera Omnia, 1768

    The 1st July 1646 saw the birth of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, a German philosopher and ‘universal thinker’.

    Steffi Sams

  58. 26
    Jun
    2015

    Maria Sibylla Merian - Insectes de Surinam 1726

    Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) was the daughter of Matthaeus Merian the Elder (1593-1650) the celebrated engraver, publisher and topographical artist

    Steffi Sams

  59. 22
    Jun
    2015

    Blue Plaque for Sir Victor Horsley, Neurosurgeon

    Last week, on 17th June, English Heritage honoured Sir Victor Horsley (1857-1917), pioneering neurosurgeon, with a Blue Plaque at his former home in Bloomsbury, London.

    Steffi Sams

  60. 18
    Jun
    2015

    Dominique Jean Larrey – Surgeon in Chief of Napoleon’s Armies

    Dominique-Jean Larrey (1766-1842) was orphaned at the age of 13 and raised by his uncle, who was chief surgeon in Toulouse.

    Steffi Sams

  61. 16
    Jun
    2015

    Spot-the-difference: Dissection scene in Fasciculus Medicinae 1495

    While trying to research the inclusion of neuroanatomical details in the drawings of Italian artists on behalf of a College fellow, I came across Dr Mortimer Frank’s 1920 edited and translated version of Dr Ludwig Choulant’s 1852 History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration.

    Steffi Sams

  62. 12
    Jun
    2015

    Gray's Anatomy 1858

    Today, 13th June, is the anniversary of Henry Gray’s death from smallpox at the age of only 34 (1861).

    Steffi Sams

  63. 9
    Jun
    2015

    Gaspare Aselli: De lactibus, sive lacteis venis (1627)

    Gaspare Aselli (1581-1625) was born in Cremona and attended University in Pavia where he obtained degrees in medicine, surgery and philosophy.

    Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

  64. 5
    Jun
    2015

    Fat Books - Surgical instruments catalogues

    Surgical catalogues of instruments and appliances are not the largest, but definitely amongst our fattest, books.

    Steffi Sams

  65. 2
    Jun
    2015

    Shakespeare Again - This time a forgery

    After the recent debate as to whether a portrait on the title page of John Gerard’s Herball shows William Shakespeare, we were yesterday reminded by an enquiry that another item in our collection has a connection to Shakespeare.

    Steffi Sams

  66. 29
    May
    2015

    New Colorectal Current Awareness Bulletin

    On 19th May the Library launched the new Colorectal Current Awareness Bulletin.

    Steffi Sams

  67. 26
    May
    2015

    Lincoln's Inn Fields

    The Royal College of Surgeons of England has made a home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields since the late 1790s.

    Sarah Kennedy

  68. 21
    May
    2015

    Shakespeare or not Shakespeare in the RCS Library

    We have followed with interest the debate in the national and international news around a potential Shakespeare portrait discovered in John Gerard’s herbal.

    Steffi Sams

  69. 19
    May
    2015

    Tracts and Pamphlets: digitising for the UK Medical Heritage Library

    Over the next year, the Library at the Royal College of Surgeons of England will be preparing almost 2,500 volumes to send to the Wellcome Library for digitisation as part of the UK Medical Heritage Library.

    Dorothy Fouracre

  70. 15
    May
    2015

    Quekett and Exploration

    The RCS collections review team is currently surveying the microscope slides collection. Working our way through the 761 units (drawers and boxes) constituting this collection, we have uncovered some hidden treasures and met some interesting characters.

    Emmy Bocaege

  71. 12
    May
    2015

    Botany and Surgeons

    In the 19th century many surgeons also practiced as apothecaries. The study of materia media, the knowledge of the therapeutic properties of substances, in particular plants, was part of the education of anyone working as a medical practitioner.

    Steffi Sams

  72. 8
    May
    2015

    Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery

    Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery (1797-1849), Traité complete de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la medicine operatoir…avec planches lithographiées d’apres nature par N-H Jacob. 1831-54.

    Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

  73. 5
    May
    2015

    Sir John Tomes Display

    At the Charles Tomes Lecture on 27 March, organised by the Faculty of Dental Surgery, we displayed items from the Museums, Archives and Library collections to celebrate the bicentenary of Charles Tomes’ father, Sir John Tomes.

    Steffi Sams

  74. 1
    May
    2015

    New Emergency General Surgery current awareness bulletin

    On April 17th we launched a new current awareness bulletin aimed at all our fellows and members in the General Surgery specialty.

    Tom Macmillan

  75. 28
    Apr
    2015

    Welcome to the RCS Library & Surgical Information Services blog

    In February 2013 the Arts Council England formally Designated the RCS library, museums and archives as outstanding collections of national and international quality and significance.

    Thalia Knight & Dorothy Fouracre

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