Simpson's Gynaecology & Midwifery

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 MMM/21/2
  • Dates of Creation
      15 Oct 1902-6 Mar 1903
  • Physical Description
      1 volume, 416 folios Spine and boards are loose

Scope and Content

Notes from lectures on midwifery and gynaecology in which the lecturer is described simply as 'Simpson'. It is believed that this refers to Sir Alexander Russell Simpson (1835-1916), Professor of Midwifery at the University of Edinburgh. There is also reference at the head of the lecture given on 2 December 1902 to 'Simpson Junior', which may refer to his son James Young Simpson (1873-1934). Each new lecture is individually dated throughout and a great number of printed drawings and diagrams have been inserted to illustrate certain points.

The subjects covered include: obstetrical and gynaecological diagnosis, rational (functional) symptoms, physical signs, ausculation and percussion, inspection, touch, signs and symptoms of pregnancy, minor constitutional changes, amenorrhoea, quickening, physical signs of pregnancy, differential diagnoses of pregnancy, female organs of generation, the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus, the vagina, the pudenda, the pelvic floor, menstruation, influence on commencement of menses, the menopause, relation of ovulation and menstruation, lecture on marriage etc. (no notes), changes in the uterus in connection with pregnancy, decidual membrane, membrane of the ovum, chorion, amnion, vesicles of early ovum, umbilical cord, the placenta, situation of the placenta, peculiarities of structure and function in the foetus, foetal circulation, nutrition of infant, rate of growth of foetus, respiration of foetus, movement of foetus in utero, malpresentation, twins, triplets, calculation of date of confinement, spurious pregnancy, pathology of pregnancy, effect of epidemics, rheumatism, syphilis, diseases of generative organs, retroflexion of the gravid uterus, hernia of the gravid uterus, ectopic (extra-uterine) gestation, diseases of the ovum, placenta, and umbilical cord, interrupted gestation, abortion and premature labour, therapeutic abortion, labour, stages of natural labour, mechanisms of labour, obstetric anatomy of the pelvis, the passenger, rotation, extension, management of natural labours, rules for chloroform, laborious labours, lingering labours, faults in expulsive powers, faults in passages, faults in soft parts, faults in hard canals, death of child, hydrocephalus, malposition and malpresentation of the head, face presentation, instrumental cases, rules for forceps [surgical instruments], cephalotomy [craniotomy], operative procedures, caesarean section, symphysiotomy, premature labours, pelvic presentations, breech, transpresentation, complex labours, haemorrhage, displacements of the uterus, chest complications, eclampsia, plural births, still births, fractures, hygiene of infancy, dealing of umbilical cord, pathology of infancy, puerperium, lochia, febrile diseases, puerperal fevers, mental disturbances, parietal inflammation, pelvic peritonitis, ovaritis, salpingitis, metritis [pelvic inflammatory disease], endometritis, vulvitis, cystitis, colpitis [vaginitis], prolapse of ovary, prolapse uterus [uterine prolapse], carcinoma, pessaries, cystic degeneration of ovaries, neoplasms of fallopian tubes, uterine tumours [neoplasms].

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Russel Simpson was born on 30 April 1835 in Bathgate, West Lothian. In 1870 at the age of 35 he fought strong competition to take over the chair of midwifery recently left vacant by the death of his uncle James Young Simpson (1811-1870) and held the office until his retirement in 1905. He had begun his medical education at Edinburgh University as an apprentice to Professor Goodsir, gaining his MD in 1856 before going abroad to pursue further studies. On his return he had the great opportunity to train for a number of years alongside his uncle. From 1865 to 1870 he ran a busy and successful private practice in Glasgow.

During his long career he held a number of professional roles including president of the Edinburgh Obstetrical Society; president of the British Gynaecological Society; honorary president of the Glasgow Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society; president of the midwifery section of the British Medical Association; and honorary fellow of the American Gynaecological Society. As university chair he also held an appointment to one of the gynaecological wards in the Royal Infirmary. He actively participated in the teaching of clinical gynaecology and initiated a summer class of operative midwifery and gynaecology. He also spent a quarter of each year as physician at the Royal Maternity Hospital where he was the first in the UK to perform the Porro-Caesarean section.

Simpson was strongly religious and his beliefs were closely intertwined with his professional activities. He died somewhat unexpectedly on 6 April 1916 after being hit by a motor car on his way home from a temperance meeting.


'Obituary. Sir Alexander Russell Simpson, Kt., M.D., D.Sc.(Hon.Causa), LL.D.', British Medical Journal, 1916, 1(2885), pp.572-4. 'Professor Alexander Russel Simpson', British Medical Journal, 1905, 2(2327), p.294.