Records of the Anderson College of Medicine, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Minutes, 1841-1950;
  • Abstracts of Governors' Intromission,s 1890-1891;
  • Cash books, 1852-1888;
  • Financial records 1841-1938;
  • Students' class fee records, 1855-1913;
  • University bills, 1877-1886;
  • Reports, 1881-1913;
  • Calendars, 1890-1947;
  • Matriculation albums, 1870-1946;
  • Prospectuses, 1870-1871;
  • Student records, 1854-1945;
  • Class records, 1878-1941;
  • Staff records, 1855-1904;
  • Professor Ballantyne's correspondence, 1911-1916;
  • Correspondence requesting syllabi, 1870-1872;
  • General correspondence, 1847-1916, 1965;
  • Photographs, 1903.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Anderson , MA, FRS, the founder of Anderson's University, Glasgow, Scotland, was born at Roseneath, Argyll & Bute, Scotland, in 1726  , the eldest son of James Anderson, minister of Roseneath parish. He studied at the University of Glasgow, and was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages in 1756  , and Professor of Natural Philosophy in 1760  .

During his tenure of the latter Chair, he saw that an acquaintance with the principles of Natural Philosophy would be invaluable to mechanics. This led him to establish, in addition to his usual class, one of a more popular character, for those whose pursuits did not allow them to follow the routine of academic study. These lectures were illustrated by numerous experiments, and were such as could be understood by those who had not the advantage of a mathematical education. He continued to hold this class every Tuesday and Thursday during the session to the close of his life. About this time he commenced making a private collection of scientific apparatus and Natural History specimens, which formed the nucleus of the Andersonian Museum now dispersed.

John Anderson died on 13 January 1796  . In his will, dated 7 May 1795, he bequeathed the whole of his property, with a few trifling exceptions, "to the public, for the good of mankind, and the improvement of science, in an institution to be denominated Anderson's University, and to be managed by eighty-one Trustees". The trustees, the first of whom are named in the deed, were of nine classes - namely, tradesmen, agriculturists, artists, manufacturers or merchants, mediciners, lawyers, divines, natural philosophers, and kinsmen.

According to the design of the founder, there were to be four Faculties, viz: Arts, Medicine, Law, and Theology, besides an Elementary School or Academy, and each Faculty was to consist of nine Professors. The Faculties of Law and Theology were always in abeyance. As the funds were quite inadequate to carry out the plan, the institution was first commenced with only a single course of lectures on Natural Philosophy and Chemistry by Dr Thomas Garnett . In 1798  a Professor of Mathematics and Geography was appointed. In 1799  , Dr Garnett having gone to London as the first professor of the Royal Institution, he was succeeded by the eminent Dr Birkbeck , who, in addition to the branches taught by his predecessor, gave free lectures on mechanics and other scientific subjects. This was the origin of the popular lectures in Anderson's University , and also of Mechanics' Institutions.

The Medical School dates back to the year 1800  , when Dr John Burns commenced lectures on anatomy and surgery, which were separated into distinct lectureships in 1828. In 1819 botany was added. In 1828 the Chairs of Midwifery, Materia Medica, and the Practice of Medicine were instituted; followed by medical jurisprudence (1831), Institutes of Medicine or Physiology (1849), ophthalmic medicine and surgery (1869) and hygiene and public health (1878). Aural surgery was added in 1879, physics, zoology, diseases of the throat and nose, and mental diseases in 1891 and diseases of the skin in 1914.

The Medical School long held a foremost position as an extra-mural school, and provided a medical education at a cost suited to the circumstances of many who would not otherwise have been able to prosecute the study of medicine. The roll of its students includes David Livingstone , Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson , and Sir William M'Gregor .

In 1877, the name of the institution was altered from Anderson's University to Anderson's College , and the Trustees were made a body corporate, and had their powers and duties remodelled and defined by Anderson's College (Glasgow) Act, 1877 (40 Vic., c.xii). This act was entitled An Act for incorporating the Trustees of the Educational Institution in Glasgow founded under the Will of Professor John Anderson; for altering the name of that Institution and the powers and duties of the Trustees and Managers thereof and for other purposes - 17 May, 1877.

In accordance with a scheme by the Commissioners under the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Act, 1884, which created The Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College (now the University of Strathclyde), the Medical School of Anderson's College became a separate and distinct institution, and was incorporated as Anderson's College Medical School. The college buildings were situated from 1889  in Dumbarton Road, Glasgow, within five minutes' walk of the Western Infirmary and University of Glasgow. In 1913  the name of the incorporated body was changed to The Anderson College of Medicine. In 1947,  the college was absorbed into the University of Glasgow.


This material is arranged into series, which consist of numbers of items related by format and/or function. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically.

Access Information

Open subject to restriction to protect personal confidentiality

Acquisition Information

Anderson College : 1982 : ACCN 488

Other Finding Aids

A database of students covering the period 1870-1946 is available for consultation on written application stating reasons for research

Alternative Form Available


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 0248 procedures

Custodial History

The papers were kept in the University's Anderson College building on Dumbarton Road until 1982


None expected

Related Material

GB 0249, Strathclyde University Archives: Records of Anderson College (including calendars), 1799-1947, Ref: OB, T-AMS

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 1999 and 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.

Fonds level description compiled by Moira Rankin, Senior Archivist, 27 October 1999. Edited by Emily Woolmore, GASHE Archivist, 22 March 2000, David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 22 August 2002, and Gemma Tougher, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 3 January 2013.

Geographical Names