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Medical Manuscripts Collection

Date range: 16th-20th centuries

Medium: Manuscript

The Medical Manuscripts Collection comprises manuscripts from the collections of the Manchester Medical Society, and later of the University of Manchester Library. Many of these manuscripts were acquired from Medical Society members.

The Collection's coverage is broad in terms of document types and subject matter. It includes lecture notes, case books, diaries, and pharmacopoeia. Many of these documents were compiled in centres of medical teaching including Edinburgh, London, Berlin, and Leiden, as well as Manchester, and medical education is a particular strength of this collection. Chronologically, most material dates from the mid-18th to the early-19th centuries.

The subjects covered include: anatomy, surgery, physiology, materia medica, botany, midwifery, paediatrics and chemistry. A handful of diaries and a commonplace book give contextual information on the more general social, political, and economic events that formed the backdrop to the medical profession in Manchester and elsewhere.

Noteworthy items include a case book composed during the Manchester cholera outbreak of 1832; a case book detailing the pioneering ovariotomy work of Charles Clay; and the memoirs of James Bower Harrison, a Manchester doctor active in the mid-Victorian period.

The majority of texts are in English, but some are in Latin and German, and there are English translations of Continental treatises. The collection is an important source of information for the growth of the Manchester medical profession and the interests and activities of its members as well as containing some of the only known copies of early medical lectures given in the Manchester medical schools.

See also:

Further information:

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.


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