Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Library and Archives

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
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Founded in 1599, the RCPSG enjoys a history spanning four centuries. The College offers a range of opportunities and services to Fellows and Members who are Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists working throughout Glasgow, the rest of Scotland, the UK, and internationally.

Venue Type:

Library, Archive

Opening hours

Fellows and Members are welcome to make use of the Library and Archive at any time during opening hours (Mon-Fri 09.00 until 17.00).

Other users and members of the public should contact us in advance to arrange an appointment.

All enquiries are welcome.

The Library is open Mon to Fri from 09.00 - 17.00.

Closed: Sat and Sun

Admission charges

Free entry

Additional info

The library catalogue, descriptions of the archive collections and images and descriptions of instruments from the historical instrument collection are all available online on the College website at

The College Library's collection of printed books has been built up over the past three hundred years. The Library was started in 1698 immediately after the erection of the first Faculty Hall and in 1734, John Paisley, Surgeon, was elected "Collector and Bibliothecarius".

The collection spans the 15th to the 20th Centuries, and includes many of the key medical, anatomical and surgical texts of the 16th and 17th Centuries, being particularly strong in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, botany and materia medica in the 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries.

The Library also has a long tradition of adding works relating to the history of Glasgow and the West of Scotland, particularly the areas over which the College held jurisdiction by virtue of its charter, granted by James VI in 1599. These include Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and parts of Lanarkshire. This has resulted in a fine collection of works pertaining to this area. The College Library also houses the Library of Dr William Mackenzie, founder of the Glasgow Eye Infirmary, and, as a consequence has good holdings in historical material relating to the diseases and surgery of the eye.

The archives of the College date from the early 17th Century with the first minute book of 1602. The minute books run consecutively from then until the present day with just one book absent, 1688-1733, which was lost in a fire. The majority of the material dates from the 19th and 20th Centuries and includes that relating to the administrative body of the College - examination registers; College committees; records pertaining to property etc - and deposited collections such as papers belonging to Fellows and Members; surgical, medical and dental records connected to the College and records of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Medical Societies. Of particular interest are the papers of Sir William Macewen, Joseph Lord Lister and Sir Ronald Ross. Additionally, there is a large collection of photographs, from portraits of many 19th Century Fellows and Members to photographs covering more recent events.

The instrument collection dates from the 18th to the 20th Centuries and include the surgical kit of Sir William Beatty, the osteotomes of Sir William Macewen and the early x-ray tubes of John Macintyre. The archive is not a static entity and is being added to regularly so that the history and events of the College are preserved for future generations.

Collection details

World Cultures, Social History, Science and Technology, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Archives

Key artists and exhibits

  • Dental archives
  • Medical and surgical instruments
  • Key medical, anatomical and surgical texts of the 16th and 17th Centuries
  • Dr William Mackenzie, founder of the Glasgow Eye Infirmary
  • Joseph Lord Lister
  • Sir Ronald Ross
  • Sir William Beatty
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Flyer for Glasgow's marvellous medicine - a comics workshop

Glasgow's marvellous medicine - a comics workshop with Adam Murphy

  • 20 November 2016 1-5pm

Taking his inspiration from the 16th century foundations of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Adam will be creating a short comic telling the marvellous, if sometimes gruesome, story of medicine and surgery in Glasgow at that time. It will then be the turn of the group to try their hand at creating their own comic masterpiece with Adam on hand to teach techniques in drawing and storytelling.

A perfect afternoon for all budding illustrators and comic fans!

The workshop is free to attend and is suitable for ages 8+ (children must be accompanied by an adult). Refreshments will be available.

Please book your place by emailing or calling 0141 221 6072.

Suitable for

  • 7-10
  • 11-13
  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+
  • Family friendly
  • Especially for children
Flyer advertising Beloved Poison

Beloved Poison with ES Thomson and Adrian Searle

  • 21 November 2016 6:30-9pm

Author ES Thomson chats with publisher Adrian Searle (Freight Books) about the inspiration and research behind her highly acclaimed Victorian medical thriller, Beloved Poison.

Set in Victorian London, Beloved Poison follows apothecary Jem Flockhart who makes a gruesome discovery in the gloomy chapel of St Saviour’s Infirmary. The story takes the reader from the bloody world of the operating theatre to the notorious squalor of Newgate and the gallows as Jem struggles against a powerful adversary to unravel the mystery surrounding six tiny coffins filled with dried flowers and mouldering rags.

Join us from 6:30pm onwards for a glass of wine before Elaine and Adrian take to the stage at 7pm in our beautiful Lower Library.

The event is free to attend but please contact us to book as places are limited. You can contact us at or call 0141 221 6072.

Part of Book Week Scotland 2016.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • Not suitable for children

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Library and Archives
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
232-242 St Vincent Street
G2 5RJ


Our Website

Museum Collection

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Archive Collections

Digital Volumes


Ross McGregor, Library and Heritage Manager


Ross McGregor, Library and Heritage Manager

0141 221 6072


0141 2211804

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.