Papers of Sir Robert Muir, 1864-1959, pathologist, Professor of Pathology at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, 1899-1936

Scope and Content

  • Letters Received, 1899-1937;
  • Testimonials and commendations, 1898-1936;
  • Speeches, 1921-1931;
  • Publications, 1895-1960;
  • Diaries, 1911 & 1956;
  • Honours, 1925-1937;
  • Obituaries, 1959-1961;
  • Photographs, 1900-1954;
  • Newspaper cuttings, 1896-1959;
  • Muir Family Material, 19th-20th century.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Muir  was born in the parish of Balfron, Stirlingshire, on  5 July 1864 , the son of a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Robert Muir MA and his wife Susan Cameron. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Hawick in the Scottish Borders. Muir attended Hawick High School and then Teviot Grove Academy, before gaining a scholarship to the University of Edinburgh at the age of 16. After a distinguished course he graduated MA from the Faculty of Arts in 1884. He then took up the study of medicine, and after gaining the Vans Dunlop Scholarship graduated MB ChB in  1888  with first-class honours. Muir spent the next two years researching the diseases of the blood and in  1890  was awarded the degree of MD, winning the Gold Medal for his thesis.

In  1892  he was appointed as one of the pathologists at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Demonstrator of Pathology at the University of Edinburgh. Then in  1894  he was elected to the newly instituted Lecturership on Pathological Bacteriology. In  1898  he left Edinburgh and became the first Professor of Pathology at the University of St Andrews. A year later he moved on again, and was appointed Professor of Pathology at the  University of Glasgow, becoming also a pathologist to the Western Infirmary, posts he held until  1936 . From  1946-1949  he was the University of Glasgow's Dean of the Faculties. His publications include: 13 editions of Textbook of Pathology (1924); and Manual of Bacteriology (various editions);

Outside the University Muir did as much as within it to advance our knowledge of medicine. During WW1 Muir held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Medical Corps of the Territorial Force, and was in charge of the pathological and bacteriological work of the 3rd and 4th Scottish General Hospitals. Throughout the war he was also Inspector of Laboratories in Scotland. He served on two committees of the Department of Agriculture for the investigation of Foot and Mouth Disease in 1920 and 1924, being Chair of the first. For varying periods he served on the council of the Royal Society, on the Medical Research Council and on committees of the British Empire Cancer Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.

Much respected in his field, Robert Muir received many public honours: he was made Knight Bachelor in 1934; elected Fellow of the Royal Society (London) in 1911 and awarded a Royal Medal by them for his work on immunology in 1929; and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1916, serving as their Vice-President from 1950-1953. Honorary degrees were conferred on him by the Universities of Bristol, Dublin, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds. He was made Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London and Edinburgh), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow, and was the first non-surgical recipient of the Lister Medal of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1936).

His zest for outdoor sports lasted his whole life and he showed remarkable skill in both golf and fishing, catching a salmon on the fly at Islay, at the age of ninety-one. He also found great satisfaction in literature, art and music. Sir Robert Muir died on the 30 March 1959  in Edinburgh, aged ninety-five. He was unmarried and survived only by a nephew.

Source: Who's Who; Dictionary of National Biography; and obituary notice from RSE Year Book, 1958-59.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Received prior to the introduction of formal accessioning procedures

Other Finding Aids

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)2851) and London (NRA30667)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Acquired 1977-1978


None expected

Related Material

GB 248 GUA PATH: Records of the Department of Pathology, University of Glasgow, Scotland.

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Collection catalogued by Hannah Westall, Archives Assistant, 22 May 2000, and members of Glasgow University Archive Services. Catalogue converted to Encoded Archival Description by Andrew Semple, Administration Assistant, 7 May 2003. Catalogue edited by Moira Rankin, Senior Archivist, 7 March 2003, and Emma Anthony, Business Archives Cataloguer, 20 July 2012. Lower level descriptions enhanced and converted into EAD by Stephen France, Archive Volunteer, Sep 2013.