North of England Ophthalmological Society Archive

  • Reference
      GB 133 NEOS
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      2.5 linear metres
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

The archive of the North of England Ophthalmological Society, set up in 1914 and remaining active to the present day.

It contains series of minutes and agenda books, as well as records of membership, charity status and files of the various secretaries.

The archive provides material useful for research into specialised medical knowledge, from 1914 through to the 21st Century, spanning both World Wars and the creation of the National Health Service. It provides useful information in the areas of healthcare, medical politics, benefit schemes, specialist medical bodies and the regional history of the North of England.

Administrative / Biographical History

The North of England Ophthalmological Society was founded in 1914, with its primary objectives being to cultivate and promote Clinical and Practical Ophthalmology. This first meeting was attended by 18 members, including founding members Dr A Hill Griffith (President), Dr J Gray Clegg and Dr Percival J Hay (Secretary). By the second meeting, attendance had rose to 57, hinting at the success the society would receive in the years to come.

The growth of the Society was halted temporarily by the outbreak of the First World War. No regular meetings were held until 10th October 1919. Despite this, a postal vote in 1918 allowed change to continue, with members voting to join with the Ophthalmological Society of the UK. Post World War One, the society held regular meetings for its members, at least 3 a year, and as many as 6 during peace time.

The content of these meetings remained similar for the initial decades of the Society. Members would discuss cases, debate ophthalmological issues, exhibit instruments and interesting specimens. A major part of the meetings was the case presentations, where patients were brought in to be examined and discussed. Many of these were victims of Tuberculosis.

From 1985, change began to occur. As opposed to 6 half day meetings a year, the Society held 3 full day meetings, which would include food and refreshments. There was also a development in content of such meetings, with the removal of live patients as case studies, due to the ‘zoo-like’ nature of such presentations. As a result, meetings transformed into a small number of talks, followed by discussion sessions. The Society also funded up to 2 poster presentations per meeting, usually undertaken by younger members, with guidance from experienced Ophthalmologists.

The ‘January Lectures’ are discussed in the archive. These events, which were not religiously held in the month of January, involved speakers given lectures in up to 3 northern cities. Such lecturers, whom were highly experienced and respected members of their field, were chosen from the UK and abroad on an alternate basis. In 1978, these lectures were renamed ‘The Percival J Hay Memorial Lecture’ in memory of the founding member and Society Secretary. ‘The Percival J Hay Memorial Prize’ was also awarded in Hay’s honour, to competition winners who submitted exemplary work of ophthalmological nature. Not only did foreign speakers visit the North of England, but the Society planned trips abroad for members, meant to introduce them to new techniques and experiences.


  • NEOS/1 Minutes
  • NEOS/2 Agenda Books
  • NEOS/3 Membership Records
  • NEOS/4 Charity Status
  • NEOS/5 Secretary's Files
  • NEOS/6 Miscellaneous Documents

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader unless otherwise stated. Permission may be required from the Society for access to certain items; please consult the archivist for further information.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the Act 2018 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for archiving and research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The archive was tranferred to the Manchester University Library, Archive and Records Centre, on the 3rd December 2018. It is being held on indefinite loan by the Library, on behalf of the Society.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive 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 Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


The society is still active, therefore further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Manchester Medical Collection MMC/7/16 includes a small number of NEOS documents.

The archives of other regional medical societies held by UML include the Manchester Medical Society (MMS), the Manchester Surgical Society MSS), and the North of England Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society ( OGS).