100 years on from the death of Dr Elsie Inglis

After being told by the War Office ‘my good lady go home and sit still’ as women doctors and surgeons were not permitted to serve in front-line hospitals, Elsie offered her services to Britain’s allies. On their acceptance, she formed the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH) and together with her colleagues and associates from the suffragist movement between 1914-1919 raised the equivalent of £53m in today’s money to buy equipment and get their stations to the front line.
Seventeen Scottish Women’s Hospitals were set up across France, Corsica, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia to treat soldiers, as well as a number of satellite hospitals and dressing stations, manned by nearly 1,500 women.

You can also learn more about Elsie and the SWH movement at www.ww100scotland.com

British Society for the History of Medicine The 27th BSHM Congress

Surgeons’ Hall, Edinburgh 13th – 16th September 2017

The four themes of the Congress are:

  • Women in Medicine
  • Scotland’s contribution and influence
  • Apothecaries and their successors
  • Art and photography in Medicine

These themes are not exclusive and papers on any aspect of the history of medicine are welcome

Abstract submission is now open until 31st May 2017

For details see the BSHM website

Edinburgh History of Medicine Group

The group holds a series of monthly talks between October and April each year. These are held in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and  are open to all.

Details of the programme for session 2015-16 can be found here


Glasgow History of Medicine Group

The Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow are collaborating in a series of seminars on medical history, medical humanities and related topics.  Meetings will be in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow at 5.30 pm.  Tea/coffee from 5.00 pm.  All welcome.

For further information email: library@rcpsg.ac.uk


John Blair Trust

The Trust is a registered charity established in 1995 by the British Society for the History of Medicine and the Scottish Society of the History of Medicine.  John Blair had been President of both Societies and had played a major role in organising  meetings whose financial success led to the formation of the Trust.

The purpose of the Trust is “The promotion of the study of the history of medicine by undergraduate students of medicine and allied sciences”.

The Trustees invite applications from undergraduates in medicine and allied sciences throughout the UK, for grants-in-aid, up to £150, to enable them to pursue their studies in the history of medicine. Such applications might include funding for necessary photocopying, research fees and any other incidental or enabling expenses.

Application forms may be viewed and downloaded  as a Word Document from here  Blair Trust Application Form


John Morgan

John Morgan compOn 24th June 1950 at the Society’s 8th meeting Professor Whitfield Bell described the life and work of John Morgan an Edinburgh medical gradutae of 1763.

Morgan was the principal founder of the first medical school in America, at Philadelphia in 1765. Indeed it was from the Edinburgh Medical School that the inspiration, the model, and the trained men to found this first medical school in America came. Morgan’s project for American medical practice and education comprised three heads. He wanted to raise the standards of professional practice by separating the practice of medicine from the practice of surgery and the sale of drugs. He founded a medical school in connection with a U niversity, and required candidates for medical degrees first to have had a sound general training in the liberal arts and sciences. He wanted to create in Philadelphia a College of Physicians like the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, of which he was a Fellow (1763), that physicians might exchange ideas’ and encourage and enforce high standards.
Professor Bell concluded that in some measure, Morgan failed in each of his enterprises. Philadelphia had only a population of some 30,000; the conditions of life in America were not suited to the kind of specialisation and the standard which existed in Britain. Ultimately, however, most of Morgan’s ideas were adopted, by other persons, and from this point of view he justified Benjamin Franklin’s prediction that he would” be of great use to his country and an honour to the Medical School of Edinburgh.”

This portrait, a copy of the original by Angelica Kaufman, hangs in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Norman Dott CBE

Norman Dott_cropped

Norman McComish Dott (1897-1973) was a distinguished Edinburgh neurosurgeon, who was an original member of the Society. A pupil of Harvey Cushing he was one of three surgeons who established neurosurgery as a speciality in Britain



An outing to Denholm

sshm trip to denholm 1964_croppedIn June 1964 the Society’s 48th meeting was held in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. The members visited the nearby village of Denholm where they were photographed in front of this imposing monument to the doctor and poet John Leyden (1775-1811) whose birthplace is close by.