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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.