University of Manchester, Department of Anatomy archive

Scope and Content

Extant archive of the University of Manchester, Department of Anatomy.

At present, the archive is composed entirely of records relating to students' practical anatomy classes, 1874-1934. These records are divided into sub-series: DAN/1/1 for student registers, and DAN/1/2 for the "Remarks books" which include comments on students' work in anatomy classes.

It is hoped that it may be possible to acquire at a future date, further departmental records, especially the minutes of the departmental boards for the period c.1973-1986.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Department of Anatomy was one of the original constituents of the Owens College Medical School, established in 1873, following the amalgamation between the College and the Manchester Royal School of Medicine.

Anatomy teaching was a key part of the College's medical curriculum, and the professor of anatomy, along with the professor of physiology, were both full-time academic posts (other medical teaching posts were part-time, and undertaken mostly by consultant staff of the Manchester Royal infirmary.) Anatomy was studied for the second examination of the M.B. Ch.B degree (that is after completing their pre-clinical examinations). Students were required to present certificates indicating they had dissected a whole human body.

The first occupant of the chair was Morison Watson (1846-1885), who held the chair from 1874-1884 and was an expert in animal anatomy. Following his sudden death, he was succeeded by Alfred Young (1851-1912), who was professor until 1909. Young was known for his work on the anatomy of blood vessels, as well as playing an important role in improving medical education at the College. Young in turn was followed by Grafton Elliot Smith (1871-1937), the eminent anatomist, embryologist and anthropologist. When Smith left Manchester for the University of London in 1919, he was succeeded by one of his staff, John Stopford (1888-1961), who built up the department's reputation for research. Stopford himself undertook important research on peripheral nerve damage, which was based on work done on the war wounded. Stopford held his chair concurrently with the vice-chancellorship of the University from 1934-1937. On relinquishing his chair, he retained a personal chair, and Frederick Wood Jones (1879-1954) became professor of anatomy and head of department. Jones was the author of many books on the comparative anatomy of animals, especially primates. He also wrote a number of anthropological studies of early man and accounts of evolutionary theory. Following Jones' retirement in 1945, G. A. G. Mitchell (1906-1993) was appointed to the chair in 1946. Like Stopford he was an expert in the autonomic nervous system. The last head of the independent department of anatomy was Philip Harris, professor from 1974-1989. In 1986, anatomy was subsumed into the new School of Biological Sciences.

  • Morison Watson 1884-1885
  • A.H. Young 1885-1909
  • Grafton Elliot Smith 1909-1919
  • J.S.B. Stopford 1919-1937
  • F. Wood Jones 1938-1945
  • G.A.G. Mitchell 1946-1974
  • Philip Harris 1974-1989

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection may includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the right to process 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. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, 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.

Acquisition Information

The records were transferred to the JRUL by the Department of Anatomy at an unknown date.

The archive is owned by the University of Manchester.

Archivist's Note

It is hoped that some of the records of the Department of Anatomy from the latter half of the twentieth century may be

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 University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


Further accruals possible.

Related Material

The archives of the Faculty of Medicine (FME) and (for the post-1986 period) the School of Biological Sciences (uncatalogued) include information on teaching, curriculum and examination issues relating to anatomy.

Annual reports of the Department can be found in the Reports of Council to Court (UOP/2); staff lists etc. are available in the University calendars (UOP/1).

The Vice-Chancellor's archive has a file on the department (VCA/7/91) covering the period 1936-1950.

The Manchester Medical Collection has biographical files on senior members of the anatomy department.


There is at present no complete history of the University of Manchester medical school. Stella Butler, 'A transformation in training: the formation of university medical faculties in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool', Medical History 30, 1986, pp.115-132 includes an account of early medical education at Owens College.

Geographical Names