Correspondence from Joseph Lister, 1927-1912, surgeon, to Dr James Finlayson, 1840-1906, physician

Scope and Content

Correspondence from Joseph Lister to Dr James Finlayson 1883-1899

Administrative / Biographical History

When the Regius Professorship of Surgery at the  University of Glasgow, Scotland, fell vacant in  1859 , Joseph Lister was selected from 7 candidates. In August  1861 , he was appointed surgeon at the  Glasgow Royal Infirmary and put in charge of its new surgical building. Due to the high level of death from sepsis (known as hospital disease) in his amputation patients, Lister began to experiment using carbolic acid during surgical procedures. This lessened the death rate from amputation dramatically and marked the development of aseptic surgery. Dr  James Finlayson was a student of Joseph Lister. Born in  1840  in Glasgow, James entered the University of Glasgow in  1856  as an arts student. From  1862-1867  he attended classes at  Anderson College of Medicine, Glasgow, receiving the degree of MB with honours from the University in  1867  and then his MD in  1869 . In 1899, he received the honorary degree of LLD from the University. In  1867  he became a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Edinburgh, Scotland and in  1871  was admitted as a Fellow of the Faculty of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow where for a quarter of a century he held the post of Honorary Librarian and was able to indulge his interest in early medical literature. In 1899, he became a Visitor of the Faculty, the equivalent of a vice-president, and from  1900-1903  was the Faculty's president. For most of his career, Finlayson worked in hospitals and from 1871 in clinical teaching. From 1871 until 1874 he acted as assistant to  Sir William Tennant Gairdner in his clinic at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and from  1875  he was a physician to the Glasgow Western Infirmary, where, as a recognised lecturer on the subject, he taught clinical medicine until his death. He also held the office of Physician to the Glasgow Royal Hospital for Sick Children from  1883-1898  where he also undertook some clinical teaching. Finlayson also wrote prolifically on the subjects of clinical medicine, physiology and anatomy, and medical history and bibliography. His major work was Clinical Manual for the Study of Medical Cases (1878). He died suddenly in  1906 .


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

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift : April 1965 : ACCN 4245

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at the University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections website, searching by the call number MS Gen 512/21.

Alternative Form Available

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Archivist's Note

Fonds level description compiled by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 02 April 2003.

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

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