The Manchester Medical Collection: Collection-level Description

  • Reference
      GB 133 MMC
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English unless otherwise stated.
  • Physical Description
      145 linear metres.  approximately 19, 948 items. some items in the collection are damaged and have been subject to conservation measures.
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

As the above indicates, the Collection consists of a remarkably wide range of documents relating to the history of medicine in Manchester. The material is divided into sixteen subject- or genre-based sections.

The Publications series, MMC/1 , consists of almost 10,000 articles, reports and papers of a medical nature, written by Manchester-related medics since the 19th century [the collection does not include books]. Many of the pamphlets and offprints are rare and difficult to obtain; bringing together this published material in a single location is a considerable help to researchers as it not only allows the ability to trace published writings of single individuals but to relate these writings to the author's institutional connections, useful for studying the research programmes of hospitals and university medical departments.

The Biographical series, MMC/2, is also an invaluable resource for researchers. It comprises biographical data on over 5,500 individuals, dating from the 17th century to the present day. Biographical data has been collected from medical directories, curriculum vitae, MMS biographical forms, as well as from notes made by Bosdin Leech from mostly published secondary sources. The series includes a number of photographs of individuals, as well as some personal papers donated to the Collection by their creators or their descendants.

MMC/3, which complements the biographical series, is a brief collection of biographical material relating to medical practitioners in the North West of England but outside of the Greater Manchester area (i.e. Lancashire, Cheshire, North -west Derbyshire, West Riding, Westmoreland and Cumberland). The individuals recorded were active from the late 17th century to the early 19th century, and nearly all the information about them has been sourced from published material, particularly antiquarian histories.

MMC/4  is a miscellaneous collection of documents relating to various medical history themes. The choice of subject matter is idiosyncratic rather than comprehensive; there is material on homeopathy in Manchester, quackery, medicine and war, important historical episodes involving Manchester medics such as Peterloo, the 1745 rebellion in Manchester and the death of William Huskisson in a railway accident, locations in Manchester with medical associations, and material relating to specific specialisms such as obstetrics and gynaecology, and pharmacology.

MMC/5  is the Medical Education section, and consists of material relating to the proprietary medical schools in Manchester, including the Manchester Royal School of Medicine,and the Owens College/University of Manchester Medical School. No official archives survive for the proprietary schools, so the material in this section in of particular interest for medical education in the mid-nineteenth century. There is a minute book of the School of Medicine, as well as documents about students and staff in the schools. Documents for the University Medical School are more varied, and include interesting material relating to the social liefe of medical students, the syllabus and the old and new Medical School buildings.

MMC/6  is a small collection of offprints and pamphlets relating to a number of medical lectureships and scholarships in Manchester, namely the Lloyd Roberts Lectureship, the Dickinson Scholarship, the Llwyd Jones Lectureship and the Rickards Memorial Lecture.

MMC/7  comprises material relating to medical societies in Manchester, not including the societies for which we hold separate institutional archives (namely Manchester Medical Society and its predecessor societies). There is also material relating to meetings of national medical societies, such as the BMA, held in Manchester. MMC/7 is a useful source for the study of the development of provincial scientific and medical thought and discussion, and the professionalisation of medicine. Documents include annual reports, rulebooks, lists of members, circulars, and in a few cases, minute books. There are also a number of published addresses and reports produced by the societies. Much of the material in this section is unique as other records of these societies have not survived, particularly in the cases of the Manchester Medico-Ethical Association 1848-1936, the Clinical Society of Manchester 1885-1925, the Manchester Therapeutical Society 1897-1901 and the Lancashire and Cheshire Branch of the British Medical Association 1843-1965.

MMC/8  comprises documents from a variety of Manchester-based medical charities and welfare associations dating from the early nineteenth century through to the late twentieth century. Mostly published material, particularly annual reports. Societies covered include Manchester Hospital Work Society, Manchester and Salford District Provident Society, Lancashire and Cheshire Society for the Permanent Care of the Feeble Minded, Lancashire and Cheshire Society for the Permanent Care of the Feeble Minded, Manchester and Salford Blind Aid Society, Manchester Adult Deaf and Dumb Institute, Cripples' Help Society and local branches of the British Red Cross Society.

MMC/9  is the Hospitals section, and includes material on most of the hospitals in Manchester and Salford. Much of the material dates to the pre-NHS period, and there are sets of annual reports and rulebooks of the major voluntary hospitals, such as MRI, St Mary's Hospital, the Chrisite Hospital, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, and Salford Royal Hospitals. There is also a variety of material dealing with the history, buildings, staff and medical services of voluntary, Poor Law and municpal hospitals. Some of the sub-sections of MMC/9 deal with hospital/sanatorium type facilities run by medical charities and are therefore linked with the charitable groups described in MMC/8, e.g. the Jewish Fresh Air Home, Manchester School for the Deaf and Dumb, the David Lewis Epileptic Colony and the Barrowmore Hospital.

MMC/10  is a small collection of material relating to nursing in the Manchester area, consisting mostly of cuttings and flyers relating to nursing homes, promotion of nursing and articles on recruitment problems, and official reports on mental health nursing and nurse training.

MMC/11  is the National Insurance section containing papers relating to the Manchester Insurance Committee, who administered the Scheme, and the Manchester Medical (and Panel) Committee, who represented the panel doctors. There is also a substantial collection of cuttings relating mostly to the early years of National Insurance and a small number of other items relating to local implementation.

MMC/12 , MMC/13 , MMC/14  are related sections dealing with public health in the Manchester area. MMC/12  consists of published public health reports of Manchester and Salford Corporations. It includes the reports of the Medical Officer of Health, School Medical Officers, reports on TB and venereal disease, as well as weekly health reurns and maps of disease. There are also a few reports from surrounding urban district councils, Stretford, Sale and Swinton, as well as reports of the Port of Manchester Health Authority. MMC/13  is a small group of documents relating to the activities of three public health bodies active in Manchester: the Board of Health, the Manchester and Salford Sanitary Association, and the Ladies' Public Health Society. MMC/14 deals with a range of public health issues in Manchester and Salford, including such important topics as industrial health, food adulteration, air pollution, water supply and pollution, housing, maternity and child welfare services, burial grounds (and body-snatching), mortality statistics, and trreatment of the mentally ill. Most of the documents are published items, such as pamphlets, reports and newspaper cuttings.

MMC/15  deals with outbreaks and treatments of diseases in the Manchester, and includes miscellaneous material on infectious diseases such as plague, cholera, typhus, diphtheria, smallpox and rabies. There is also material on cancer, TB, poisons and sexual diseases.

MMC/16  comprises one item only, and is the original classification scheme for the Collection devised by EBL, with numerous manuscript amendments in his and other hands. It is useful for understanding Leech's original conception of the Collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Manchester Medical Collection is a unique body of archive materials relating to the history of medicine in the Manchester area. The Collection was the creation of Ernest Bosdin Leech, a honorary physician at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and a keen local historian. Leech conceived of the Collection as a means of bringing together material on all aspects of Manchester medical history into a single resource for researchers. The Collection was begun in the days before the existence of proper archive repositories, and Leech saw the need to salvage material before it was lost to posterity. At the centenary meeting of the MMS on 3 October 1934, Leech announced in his presidential speech that he was donating the collection to the Library:

"Some 25 years ago I began to collect everything I could find relating to Manchester medicine in the wider sense. ... The collection contains books by Manchester medical men, both medical and literary, and about Manchester medical men, also pamphlets by them, and also any biographical notes I have been able to find. I can at least say of the collection that I don't know of any town that has a similar one."

(Manchester Medical Society Archive, MMS/1/11/3/10).

Leech's collecting strategy was eclectic: he aimed to gather together material on a variety of different subject areas using a diversity of sources. The Collection has material about the lives and writing of Manchester doctors, there are documents concerning the professional societies these doctors belonged to, local hospitals and medical charities, medical education in the city in the medical schools and at the University, material on specific subjects such as public health, diseases, nursing, medical insurance, and significant incidents in local medical history. The Collection has the outward appearance of an accumulation of research material for a major study of local medical history, but there is no evidence that Leech intended to write this. Rather he wished it to be used as a resource for others. Although Leech died in 1950, the Collection has been added to (on a more modest scale) up to the present day. The biographical files have been continuously updated. For a period, the publications files were also updated, given the massive expansion of articles and notices published in the specialist medical press it is no longer considered feasible or necessary to do this. In other areas, the development of dedicated archive facilities in the Manchester area has meant collections like the MMC were no longer as necessary for salvaging material.

The MMC was evidently a labour of love for Leech. The extent of the collection is witness to long hours he spent acquiring material, annotating published material and scouring newspapers and medical directories for snippets of information about his medical counterparts. Leech was a well-read antiquarian historian, and he used the publications of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society and Chetham's Society to locate a wealth of interesting and arcane information to add to the Collection. He also went to the original sources and noted down information of interest, including information in the minute books of the MRI from the 1750s to the 1930s. The result was a series of small notelets in his distinctive hand, identifying references for scholars to undertake follow-up research. Although Leech never published a magnum opus on Manchester medicine, he did publish several monographs, Medicine in the provinces of England, Picturesque episodes of Manchester medical history, and Early medicine and quackery in Lancashire.

A sociable man, Leech's connections with local medical societies ensured that he was able to acquire and preserve their archives. He was an active member of the Manchester Medical Society, serving on its library committee and was president in its centenary year 1933-4. The Society's archive was originally part of the Collection (although it is now treated as a discrete collection). Through his connections, Leech was able to acquire the records of a number of smaller societies like the Manchester Therapeutic Club and the Clinique. Leech was assisted by other local medical historians in his work, in particular Edward Mansfield Brockbank (1866-1959), a cardiologist at the MRI, who published histories of the MRI honorary staff, Cheadle Royal Hospital, the official history of Manchester Medical Society and The foundation of provincial medical education in England(1936). Like Leech, Brockbank was president of the MMS and long-standing member of its library committee which he chaired from 1906-1951. His son, William Brockbank (1900-1984) looked after the MMC following Leech's death, and added a good deal of valuable material. Medical librarians of the JRUL have also added material to the Collection.

When the Collection was catalogued between 2002-2004, a decision was made to restrict the acquisition of new material. In some areas such as the biographical files, it is considered desirable to continue updating this material as it is a unique and valuable resource for researchers. In other areas, particularly the medical subject areas, it is not really possible to devise a collecting brief which accurately reflects the intentions of the creator of the Collection. . In many cases, material 'salvaged' by Brockbank and Leech is now collected in a systematic manner by local libraries and archives. The idiosyncrasies and enthusiasm of Leech the collector should be respected by accurately representing what he did collect through the catalogues rather than attempting to emulate his unique enterprise.



A number of abbreviations are used throughtout this handlist for frequently-cited individuals, institutions and publications. Some of these are familiar because of customary usage, others have been used in the specific context of this collection.

  • EBL - Ernest Bosdin Leech (1875-1950); original creator of the Collection.
  • WB - William Brockbank (1900-1984), who looked after the Collection after Leech's death.
  • MRI - Manchester Royal Infirmary
  • MMS - Manchester Medical Society
  • BMJ - British Medical Journal
  • MD - Doctor of Medicine [degree]

The arrangement of the MMC is complex. The Collection is artificial and its original ordering was determined by Leech, who devised a complicated subject-based classification scheme [see MMC/16/1]. The basic structure of this scheme was as follows:

  • A Book and Pamphlets by Manchester Medical Men [now MMC/1]
  • B Journals published in Manchester
  • C Biography [now MMC/2]
  • D Local Medical History [now MMC/4]
  • E Medicine in Neighbouring Areas [now MMC/3]
  • F Teaching, Qualification, Students Activities [now MMC/5]
  • G Lectureships and Scholarships [now MMC/6]
  • H Societies [now MMC/7 and MMC/8]
  • I Libraries and Museums [superseded]
  • J Hospitals [MMC/9]
  • K National Health Service and Previous Insurance Schemes [now MMC/11]
  • L Public Health Reports [now MMC/12]
  • M Health Societies and Associations [now MMC/13]
  • N Various Public Health Subjects in Manchester and Salford [now MMC/14]
  • O Diseases in Manchester and Salford [now MMC/15]
  • P Military Medicine in Manchester [superseded]
. Two former sections of the Collection have been superseded: material from the Libraries and Museums Section has now been incorporated into the Library section of the Manchester Medical Society archive or the archive of the John Rylands University Library. The Military Medicine section has been discontinued as no material had been acquired.

The Collection was maintained according to this scheme, which became increasingly unwieldy and inconsistent. In 2001, it was decided to introduce a new simplified system of arrangement, with new classifications, but which closely followed the original schema. The new classification revised the arrangement of material where it had become inconsistent or in some cases erroneous. As a result of the reclassification, some of the original 'groups' of records have been abolished, and their sub-division into series and sub-series has been simplified. Former reference numbers have been recorded, if evident. The new arrangement is:

  • MMC/1 Publications Files
  • MMC/2 Biographical Files
  • MMC/3 Medical Practitioners in the North West Region
  • MMC/4 Local Medical History
  • MMC/5 Medical Education in Manchester
  • MMC/6 Lectures and Scholarships
  • MMC/7 Professional Medical Societies in Manchester
  • MMC/8 Medical Charities in Manchester
  • MMC/9 Hospitals
  • MMC/10 Nursing in Manchester
  • MMC/11 National Insurance
  • MMC/12 Local Authority Public Health Documents
  • MMC/13 Public Health Societies in Manchester and Salford.
  • MMC/14 Public Health in Manchester and Salford.
  • MMC/15 Diseases in Manchester and Salford.
  • MMC/16 Former Finding Aids

The on-line finding aid for the MMC has had to be divided into several files because of its size. Publications files have been split into three sections: MMC/1 A-G, MMC/1 H-Q and MMC/1 R-Z. The Biograhical files have been divided similarly: MMC/2 A-GMMC/2 H-Q and MMC/ 2 R-Z. The remaining sections of the Collection can be found at MMC/3-16.

Leech and his successors marked material with a classification code (often in indelible ink). This has been retained as part of the record, but has usually been crossed through to indicate that this reference should not be used when ordering material. The new reference codes have been added in pencil, and are prefixed 'MMC.. etc'.

Many items in the Collection consist of holograph notes made by EBL or to a lesser extent by William Brockbank. It is not possible to give a date for the creation of these items, so " no date" is entered in the date field; it can be assumed that the vast majority were created in the period 1900-1960.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader, although some recent material containing personal information may be restricted.

This finding aid may contain personal or sensitive personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) has the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately, according to the Data Protection Principles.

Individuals have the right to make a request to see data relating to them held by the JRUL which falls under the provisions of the DPA. Access requests must be made formally in accordance with the provisions set out in the DPA and all enquiries should be directed to the University's Data Protection Officer.

Acquisition Information

The core of the MMC was donated to the Library by Ernest Bosdin Leech in 1934, since when a number of further acquisitions have been made from diverse sources. A series of biographical forms of Fellows of the Manchester Medical Society have been added to the Collection at intervals since the 1970s.



A number of abbreviations are used throughtout this handlist for frequently-cited individuals, institutions and publications. Some of these are familiar because of customary usage, others have been used in the specific context of this collection.

  • EBL - Ernest Bosdin Leech (1875-1950); original creator of the Collection.
  • WB - William Brockbank (1900-1984), who looked after the Collection after Leech's death.
  • MRI - Manchester Royal Infirmary
  • MMS - Manchester Medical Society
  • BMJ - British Medical Journal
  • MD - Doctor of Medicine [degree]

Other Finding Aids

None. This finding aid supersedes the original classification scheme drawn up by EBL (see MMC/16/1).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PP.

Custodial History

Ernest Bosdin Leech appears to have begun the Collection in the early twentieth century. It has been maintained on a continuous basis since that time.

The collection was begun by Ernest Bosdin Leech. He donated it to the University Library in 1934 at the centenary meeting of the MMS. At the time the MMC comprised around 775 books and 110 boxes of papers. Leech continued to manage the Collection until his death. The Collection has since been maintained and developed by members of staff of the Library, with the assistance of Dr William Brockbank (1900-1984) who was Honorary Medical Archivist. The medical book collection is now administered independently of the MMC and forms part of the book stock of John Rylands University Library.

All material incorporated into the MMC is received as a gift. The collection is owned by the University of Manchester.


Some sections of the Collection accrue new material, according to collecting policy for the Collection.

Related Material

JRUL has custody of several other related medical archives including the archives of the Manchester Medical Society, the Pathological Society of Manchester, Manchester Surgical Society, Manchester Paediatric Club, Manchester Odontological Society, the North West branch of the Medical Officers of Health Assoication, the North of England Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, and the Manchester branch of the National Union of Medicine.

Private paper collections include the papers of the orthopaedic surgeon, Sir Harry Platt, the neurosurgeon, Geoffrey Jefferson, and the neurologist, Donald Core. There is a small collection, the Stirland Public Health Collection, relating to public health administration in Manchester. The Library also has a collection of papers accumulated by Professor William Waugh for his biography of the orthopaedic surgeon, John Charnley, John Charnley: the man and the hip (London: 1990).

JRUL has some other collections which are not managed as part of the medical archive collections, but which are relevant for aspects of local medical history. These include the archive of the Manchester Pharmaceutical Association, and the papers of a local medical supplies firm, James Woolley, Sons & Co. Ltd. The papers of the Hibbert-Ware family (Eng Mss 989-1038 ) includes material relating to Samuel Hibbert-Ware (1782-1848), a prominent Manchester doctor.

John Rylands University Library also has care of the archives of the University of Manchester, which contains some of the records of the University's Medical School.

Location of Originals

A number of items in the Collection are copies (photocopies/ transcripts); where the location of the original item is known it is given.


There is no comprehensive study of the medical history of the Manchester region, but John Pickstone, Medicine and industrial society: a history of hospital development in Manchester and its Region, 1752-1946 (Manchester 1985) is particularly good for the development of local hospitals, medical education and professionalization in Manchester. The biographies of the most important Manchester medics can be traced in standard sources such as the New Dictionary of National Biography, and Munk's The roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London( 1878-ongoing), and Victor Plarr, Lives of the fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1830-1981). A recent study of leading Manchester medics of the 19th and 20th centuries is Willis Elwood and A.F. Tuxford, Some Manchester doctors: a biographical collection to mark the 150th anniversary of the Manchester Medical Society 1834-1984 (Manchester 1984). The honorary medical staff of the MRI are covered in two works, E.M. Brockbank, Sketches of the Lives and Works of the Honorary Staff of the Manchester Infirmary from its Foundation in 1752 to 1830 (Manchester 1904) and William Brockbank, The Honorary Medical Staff of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, 1830-1948 (Manchester 1965). Medical politics in late 18th century Manchester is analysed by John Pickstone and Stella Butler, 'The politics of medicine in the early industrial city; a study of hospital reform and medical relief in late eighteenth century Manchester' Medical History vol.28, 1984.

There is as yet no comprehensive study of medical education in Manchester. E.M. Brockbank The foundation of provincial medical education in England (Manchester 1936) covers the proprietary medical schools in Manchester and elsewhere. Stella Butler, 'Science and the education of doctors in the nineteenth century' (unpublished Ph.D., UMIST 1982) deals with medical education at Owens College, Manchester. Broader intellectual themes are traced in R.H. Kargon, Science in Victorian Manchester: enterprise and expertise (Manchester 1972) and Arnold Thackray, 'Natural knowledge in a cultural context: the Manchester model', American Historial Review 79, 1974.

For histories of individual hospitals: William Brockbank, Portrait of a hospital 1752-1948 (Manchester 1952) and Frank Renaud, A short history of the rise and progress of the Manchester Royal Infirmary from the year 1752-1877 (Manchester 1898) for the MRI; E.M. Brockbank, A short history of Cheadle Royal (Manchester 1934) for the Cheadle Royal mental hospital; John Webster Bride, A short history of St Mary's Hospitals, Manchester, 1790-1922 (Manchester 1922).

Two biographical works which contain interesting information on Manchester medicine in the early-to-mid-nineteenth century are [Anon.], Memoir of Thomas Turner by a relative (London 1875) and F.W. Jordan, Life of Joseph Jordan (Manchester 1904).

Liz Coyne, Dennis Doyle and John Pickstone, A guide to the records of health services in the Manchester Region (Kendal to Crewe) 2 volumes, (UMIST 1981) contains reports of archive collections and publications of hospitals and public health bodies in the former Manchester Regional Hospital Board area. It is the most comprehensive survey of its kind, but understandably some of the information given is now out-of-date.