Robert Barnes: Notebooks

Scope and Content

A series of 60 notebooks compiled by Robert Barnes, arranged thematically on many topics in women's health, obstetrics, and public health. These volumes include notes and cuttings from books and articles by other physicians as well as correspondence, woodcuts, drawings, case material, and Barnes' medical conclusions. Two of the notebooks contain a diary format of visits by Barnes to patients; one concerns obstetric cases while the other deals with general practice. Barnes added to each notebook over the course of several years, and his expertise as one of the leading obstetricians in London is demonstrated in the breadth and depth of the notebooks.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Barnes was born in Norwich on September 4, 1817, the second son of an architect. After being educated in Bruges and tutored by George Borrow, he attended University College and undertook medical studies at Windmill Street School and St. George's Hospital. He received his MRCS in 1842 and began a practice in Notting Hill. In the following years, he taught at the Hunterian School and Dermott's School, and received his MD in 1848. He served as Obstetrician to the Western General Dispensary, was elected in 1859 to be Assistant Obstetric Physician, and then became Obstetric Physician to the London Hospital in 1863. Within a year he had moved to St. Thomas's Hospital, and in 1875 he was made Obstetric Physician to St. George's Hospital. He was elected FRCS in 1883 and retired around the age of 70 before dying of apoplexy in 1907 at Eastbourne. He was widely respected and recognized as an expert in the field of obstetrics and among his several publications, the best-known was 'A System of Obstetric Medicine and Surgery' published in 1884 with the help of his son, Dr. R.S. Fancourt Barnes. He is known for his advocacy of surgery by obstetricians, his expertise in forensic medicine, placenta praevia, and uterine hemorrhage, and the term 'ectopic gestation'. Barnes was active in the Royal Maternity Charity, and was a founding member of the Obstetrical Society of London and its fourth president. He also formed the British Gynaecological Society in 1885. The source for this biographical information can be found at 'Plarr's Lives of the Fellows Online',

Access Information

Open to researchers by appointment, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. mailto: