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Early Science Subject Strength

The University of Leeds has a long history of teaching medicine. The institution we know today as the University of Leeds was founded as the Leeds School of Medicine in 1831. This heritage is well represented in Special Collections with a number of medical-related archive and book collections.

Medical Manuscripts Collection

Our Medical Collections contain numerous discrete manuscripts relating to medical practice and education. These have been grouped together as the Medical Manuscripts Collection to improve accessibility.

These include:

  • catalogues of medical libraries
  • lectures for medical students
  • case histories and clinical notes of physicians and surgeons, many at the Leeds General Infirmary
  • notes taken by medical students at the Leeds School of Medicine and other institutions, from the 19th and 20th centuries.

A particular highlight within the collections is a series of transcribed lectures given by William Cullen, Thomas Young, James Gregory, Joseph Black and Charles Bell at the University of Edinburgh in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Hey Family papers

Special Collections holds the papers of the Hey family, who were instrumental in developing medical provision and teaching in Leeds and who played an active role in teaching medicine in the city throughout the 19th century. The collection includes the patient case books of the surgeon William Hey (1736-1819)

Leeds School of Medicine Archive

Special Collections holds the records of the Leeds School of Medicine, dating from the founding of the School in 1831 through to the 21st century. They cover the merging of the School with the Yorkshire College in 1884, and its later move to become part of the University of Leeds Faculty of Medicine and Health.

The University Archive also holds the records of a number of the departments within the Leeds School of Medicine, including the Departments of Pathology and Bacteriology, Public Health Medicine, Rheumatology and Physiology, among others.

Health Sciences Historical Collection

Our Health Sciences Historical Collection includes a number of useful historic medical books printed between 1606 and around 1950. The subject matter ranges across anatomy, physiology, surgery, diseases, midwifery, and health remedies.

Particular highlights are:

Kathleen Raven Archive

The archive collection spans the entire career of Dame Kathleen Raven (1910-1999), who was Matron at the Leeds General Infirmary, 1949; Deputy Chief Nursing Officer at the Ministry of Health, 1957; and Chief Nursing Officer, 1958-1972.

Frank Parsons and Leslie Pyrah Archives

We hold the archives of both the nephrologist Frank Parsons (1918-1989) and the urologist Leslie Pyrah (1899-1995). They worked together at the Leeds General Infirmary and set up the UK’s first kidney dialysis unit in 1956.

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A large number of the recipe books in our Cookery Collection contain not only culinary and household recipes but also medicinal remedies. In these texts, notes on cultivating and using herbs and methods for healing common injuries and ailments often sit beside recipes involving food preparation. These books were frequently used by those families who rarely sought formalised medical advice.

Thousands of our medical and cookery publications have been digitised as part of the UK Medical Heritage Library Project. All of the digitised texts are available on the Internet Archive, as well as via the Special Collections catalogue.