Scotland has a fascinating medical heritage that spans hundreds of years. Many of the world’s leading discoveries in medical science were pioneered in Scotland. In this section there is information on archives, museums and libraries that hold fascinating public collections on some of the remarkable people, places and resources associated with this outstanding heritage.
Information on each institution is available, including opening times and contact details.
Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums
The medical collections of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums have strong North East connections and reflect the way in which medical science and practise impact upon local communities.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives
The holdings of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives, one of the largest health authority archives in the United Kingdom, consist principally of the archives of the hospitals in the Glasgow area and in Greenock and Paisley.
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is home to Scotland’s oldest medical library. We hold over 60,000 books, including a copy of the first edition of the first book printed on medicine - the De Medicina of Celsus, published in 1478 - and almost 1500 journals, some of which are particularly rare. We also hold over 400 externally deposited manuscript collections concerning eminent scientists.
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Founded in 1505, the Incorporation of Surgeons and Barbers (from 1778 The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh) is one of the oldest medical incorporation's in continuous existence in the world, and our unique collections fully represent this heritage.
The Hunterian was opened to the public in 1807 and is Scotland’s oldest public museum. It was established around the collections of Dr William Hunter, the celebrated 18th century anatomist, doctor and obstetrician. As a physician and collector, he was unique amongst his contemporaries in several ways, not least in having had the foresight to bequeath his entire museum collections and library to his alma mater, the University of Glasgow, thereby avoiding their dispersal in the salerooms.
University of Dundee Archives
The University of Dundee Archives hold a wide variety of collections that contain a wealth of material for all types of researcher: academic staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students, private researchers, including family historians, and school pupils.
University of Edinburgh Anatomy Museum
The collection of the Anatomical Museum consists of approximately 12,000 objects, which illustrate the story of 300 years of teaching Anatomy at the University of Edinburgh.
University of St. Andrews Museums
The Anatomy and Pathology Collection contains over 5,000 items, mainly gross wet and dry specimens, but also surgical instruments, wax and plastinated models, and teaching charts, some of the latter being produced by local artists.
Lothian Health Services Archive
Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA) holds the historically important local records of NHS hospitals and other health-related material. It collects, preserves and catalogues these records and promotes them to increase understanding of the history of health and for the benefit of all. LHSA is core funded by NHS Lothian and project funded by a variety of institutions, including the Wellcome Trust. LHSA is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections and was awarded Accredited Archive Status in 2014.
National Museums Scotland
Amongst this amazing collection of the nation's treasures, you can find some 700 items relating to all aspects of medical history, including Fleming’s Nobel Prize for Medicine (1945) for the discovery of penicillin, prototype apparatus used to develop the first clinically useful MRI scanner, and early devices for CT scanning and obstetric ultrasound. Older material includes items relating to Scottish folk medicine.
Royal College of Surgeons & Physicians of Glasgow
Founded in 1599, the RCPSG has a history spanning four centuries. The College enjoys a unique position amongst its sister Colleges in the UK in that its membership includes physicians, surgeons, dentists and specialists in the field of travel medicine.
Tayside Medical History Museum
Founded by volunteers in 1989, the Tayside Medical History Museum holds one of the finest collections in Scotland. Today the museum is managed by the University of Dundee Museum Services and our displays explore the history of medicine in Tayside, with a special focus on Dundee’s pioneering legacy of medical research and practice.
University of Dundee Museum Services
The University of Dundee has a wide variety of museum collections acquired since its founding in 1881. These are cared for by Museum Services, which stages regular exhibitions in the Tower Foyer and Lamb Galleries.
University of Glasgow Library and Archives
Glasgow University’s Special Collections Department is one of the foremost resources in Scotland for academic research and teaching. Built up over a period of more than 500 years by purchase, gift and bequest, the collections now contain more than 200,000 manuscript items and around 200,000 printed works, including over 1,000 incunabula.
University of Stirling Archives
The University of Stirling Archives and Special Collections is the place of permanent deposit for the records of NHS Forth Valley. These collections includes a broad range of material related to nursing and the records of historic local hospitals.