MMC/2 contains files of biographical information about individuals connected with medicine in Manchester. Files include published material such as obituaries (from medical journals and national newspapers) and biographical articles, together with application forms for medical posts, photographs, and manuscript notes written by Leech, William Brockbank and others.
It is clear from the material accumulated that Bosdin Leech had a particular collecting strategy. By the time of his death, material had been accumulated for several thousand individuals.
Leech's criteria for inclusion in the files appears to have been broad. Individuals had Manchester connections either through medical education or as the locus of their professional practice. Leech went back to the early modern period to discover the identities of Manchester medics., using a variety of printed antiquarian and historical sources. Individuals from the North West region without specific Manchester connections were filed in the 'E' section of the Collection, which is now known as MMC/4. However Leech appears to have segregated these individuals from their Manchester counterparts only for the period up to the early nineteenth century, after this non-Manchester medical practitioners are included in the biographical files, although Leech did not seek to cover this category exhaustively.
Although we cannot be entirely sure how comprehensive Leech envisaged the scope of the files, he does appear to have gathered information on the majority of medical practitioners in the Manchester and Salford areas in the nineteenth century. Understandably, he was able to gather more material for the honorary staff in the city's leading hospitals (MRI, ST Mary's, Royal Eye and Salford Royal) and correspondingly less for local general practitioners. Leech also tried to track those individuals who had received their medical education at Manchester (mainly Manchester Royal School of Medicine and Owens College Medical Education, later the University of Manchester Medical School) but practised elsewhere in the country. In dealing with his contemporaries, Leech now had more individuals to consider, and his sources of information were more restricted than they had been for the major figures in the nineteenth century Manchester medical establishment.
For eighteenth and nineteenth century medics Leech used a fairly broad range of sources. He was assisted by a number of published historical works published by local antiquarian societies, memoirs, biographies and histories of local hospitals and other books about Manchester. Leech made brief notes about references to individuals in these books. He also studied educational records such as the register of Manchester Royal School of Medicine (1847-1855), the minutes of the Infirmary Board, and records of Owens College to garner basic information about their education.
The following genres of document have been used most frequently in this series:
Medical Directory entries. The Directory is published annually and covers all medical practitioners registered in the UK; in effect, a Who's who for doctors. Typically entries will include information on each individual's education and qualifications, medical positions and offices held, publications and an address for communication. Early editions of the Directory contained only summary education about education and professional positions, but by the late nineteenth century, the basic format of information was established, and it has changed relatively little since that time. The Directory entry is a good basic source of information and Leech systematically scoured the Directories of 1847, 1869 and 1927 for practitioners with a Manchester connection, and appears to have tracked down every significant Manchester medic for those years. The Directory continues to be one of our main sources for updating our biographical files. Since Leech's time, MD entries have been added for individuals usually from the start of a decade in which their career was its peak (e.g. 1970, 1980, 1990).
Another important source of biographical data has been added more recently; the biographical forms of the Manchester Medical Society. The Society, founded in 1834, is the most significant medical association in the Manchester region, and currently has several thousand members. In the 1960s, the Society began a policy of issuing biographical forms for its members to fill in. Forms have been issued in 1965, 1973, 1983, the early 1990s and the early 2000s. Members have supplied information about their education, professional positions, publications and other matters of interest. The information in the forms is generally more detailed than in the Medical Directory entries, and some have included detailed curriculum vitae with their forms.
Application letters and forms for medical posts are present for some entries. The most useful and informative of these are the printed application letters with testimonials submitted for honorary and assistant honorary posts at the voluntary hospitals in Manchester (mainly MRI). Later application letters from the NHS period (1950s-1960s) are mostly for house and registrar posts and are correspondingly less informative. These have only been retained where they contain information on dates of birth, education and publications of the individual, which is not readily available elsewhere.
Leech made a huge number of notes from a variety of sources. He annotated the minute books of the MRI's weekly, quarterly and medical boards for information about specific individuals, particularly relating to medical education and junior doctor appointments; these are described as 'Holograph notes. MRI minutes'. [The original minutes are retained by the MRI]. Also significant are cuttings books of the MRI, which Leech annotated in detail for information about the hospital, and its place in Manchester's medical, social and political life. Of particular interest are notes he made about the 'rebuilding controversy' of the late nineteenth when the local medical community divided over whether a new Infirmary should be built at Piccadilly or the Stanley Grove site, near Owens College in the Oxford Road [the new Infirmary opened at this site in 1908]. The cuttings books contained information about the allegiances of local doctors in this dispute, and Leech recorded this for their biographical files. His volume of notes from the cuttings book is kept as part of a sub-section on the rebuilding controversy (MMC/9/6/11/13), and he made notes for each medical practitioner who is mentioned in this volume, so cross-referral from the biographical file to the notebook is possible; such entries are described as 'Holograph note, MRI cuttings book'.
Leech's other notes were sourced from a selection of published sources including:
- William Axon, The annals of Manchester: a chronological record from the earliest times to the end of 1885 (London 1886), (abbreviated as Axon, Annals).
- T. Swindells, Manchester streets and Manchester men, 5 vols. (Manchester 1906-8), (abbreviated as Swindells, Manchester men).
- J.T. Slugg, Reminiscences of Manchester fifty years ago (Manchester 1881), (abbreviated as Slugg, Reminiscences).
- William Whellan, A new alphabetical and classified directory of Manchester and Salford, Bolton, Bury... (Manchester 1853), (abbreviated Whellan, Directory).
- Edward Baines, History, directory and gazetteer of the County Palatine of Lancaster, 2 volumes, (1824-5), (abbreviated as Baines, Directory).
- James Wheeler, Manchester: its political, social and commercial history, ancient and modern (London 1836), (abbreviated as Wheeler, Manchester).
- Frank Renaud, A short history of the rise and progress of the Manchester Royal Infirmary (Manchester 1898), (abbreviated as Renaud, MRI).
- Edward Mansfield Brockbank Sketches of the lives and work of the honorary medical staff of the Manchester Royal Infirmary (Manchester 1904), (abbreviated as Brockbank, Lives and work honorary medical staff of MRI).
- William Brockbank, The honorary medical staff of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, 1830-1948 (Manchester 1965), (abbreviated as Brockbank, Honorary medical staff of MRI).
- Anon., Memoir of Thomas Turner Esq. FRCS FLS (London 1875), (abbreviated as Memoir Turner).
- F.W. Jordan, Life of Joseph Jordan (Manchester and London 1904), (abbreviated as Jordan, Jordan).
- J.P.Earwaker (ed.), Local gleanings relating to Lancashire and Cheshire 2 volumes, (Manchester 1875-8), (abbreviated as Local gleanings).
- Jeremiah Smith (ed.), The admission register of the Manchester School [1730-1837] 4 volumes, (Manchester 1866-74), contains biographical notes about significant former pupils of the Manchester Grammar School (abbreviated as Manchester School Register.
- The Palatine Note-book: for the intercommunication of antiquaries, bibliophiles, and other investigators into the history and literature of the counties of Lancaster, Chester.. 5 volumes (Manchester 1881-5), (abbreviated as Palatine Note Book).
- John Reilly, History of Manchester (Manchester 1861), (abbreviated as Reilly, Manchester).
- John Webster Bride, A short history of St. Mary's Hospitals Manchester and the honorary medical staff: from the foundation in 1790 to 1922 (Manchester 1924) (Abbreviated to Bride, History of St Mary's)
Leech also researched the parish records of churches in central Manchester, such as the Collegiate Church (St Mary's, now Manchester Cathedral) and St. John's Church (now demolished) for information pertaining to baptisms, marriages and burials of Manchester medics and their families. Other information was gleaned from such sources as the 'Notes and Queries' column in the local newspaper, Manchester City News, which provided some of the more arcane antiquarian detail accumulated by Leech.
Newspapers were a particularly valuable source for the Collection. One of the most important sources was obituary notices from the British Medical Journal and the Lancet, occasionally supplemented by notices in more specialised medical journals. These journals began to publish quite detailed obituaries from the 1890s. Since the 1990s, the medical journals have generally reduced their obituary coverage, although brief obituary notices are still published by the BMJ and Lancet. Obituaries were also collected from national newspapers, especially the Manchester Guardian, which being published locally was a good source of information on Manchester doctors. The dedication of Leech to picking up snippets of information about his quarry is confirmed by the inclusion of notices relating to their marriage, birth of children, marriage of children, deaths and publication of their wills from local newspapers. Another valuable source of information was Manchester University Medical Students Gazette, published by medical students at Manchester University from the 1920s, and included articles by and about individual medical students and their teachers. Leech also acquired printed letters of application and testimonials from doctors in their application for posts (house, resident and honorary) at local hospitals, mostly the MRI, which as a member of staff at the latter he was in an ideal position to gather. An earlier version of the Gazette, known as Manchester Medical Students Gazette was published from 1901 to 1913.
There is also evidence in the files that Leech tried, often unsuccessfully, to acquire archive material such as correspondence of these individuals to include in the files. In fact, very little of such primary source material is included in the Collection; there are a few letters, notebooks and cuttings books, but these are not a significant source. However, Leech's and William Brockbank's correspondence concerning their search for material does contain some interesting snippets. Brockbank's correspondence in connection with his research for Lives of the honorary staff of the MRI contains some illuminating and occasionally amusing comments on senior Manchester medical figures by their former colleagues.
Leech's successors obviously were not able to devote the same amount of time to maintaining the files. However, they have added a considerable of body of data to the collection. Apart from MD entries and published obituaries, valuable information has been provided by the biographical forms of members of the Manchester Medical Society. From the early 1970s, fellows of the Society were encouraged to submit potted biographies of their professional positions and achievements to the Society, with the understanding that these would be filed in the MMC. This data continues to be added to the Collection. Further information has been gathered from University publications such as the now-defunct University of Manchester Gazette and This week, next week (formerly This week and known as Unlife from February 2004 ), which publishes articles about medical academics at the University. where possible, JRUL has sought to acquire curriculum vitae from senior Manchester medical practitioners (mostly those holding chairs at the University).
The files contain a considerable number of photographs. Many of these are nineteenth century carte de visite photographs, apparently collected by Leech. For the later period, there are a number of cutting photographs from MRI group portraits or student groups. Leech made notes for the biographical files of individuals appearing in photos in other parts of the Collection; these are mostly student group portraits from the 1890s and 1900s (MMC/5/9/4).