Lectures of Professor Alexander Monro (1697-1767)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The material is composed of: a record book of students, scholars, prentices, 1720-1749; students notes of lectures on  History of the rise and progress of anatomy and  Physiology; a copy of  The history of anatomy, being a typed transcript;  The history of anatomy ... being the publick lectures of Mr. A. M.; treatises by Monro, being  A treatise of bandages,  A discourse upon the rickets, and  Comparative anatomy; lectures, 1738; lectures, 1743; students notes of lectures on the history of anatomy; a short history of anatomy taken from Monro's lectures, 1750; notes of lectures on anatomy, circa 1752-1755; lectures probably by Monro Primus but in the hand of Monro Secundus, entitled  Operations of surgery, 1753; students notebook of case histories,  Dr. A. Monro's clinical cases of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in the January of 1766, 1765-1766;  A description of the rickets; microfilm copy of  The history of anatomy; microfilm copy of clinical lectures of Monro, 1762; and microfilm copy of lectures on physiology, the history of anatomy, and the theory of anatomy, 1746-1750.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Monro, the son of John Monro, a surgeon, was born on 8 September 1697 in London. He was educated at Edinburgh University after a family move to the city, and he obtained his M.D. there before going to London to attend lectures on experimental philosophy and dissection. On his return to Edinburgh he established a reputation for himself in the field of anatomy. A visit to Paris followed before a study period at Leyden in the Netherlands in 1718 under Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738). In 1719, Monro was appointed Professor of Anatomy and Surgery to the Surgeon's Company, and then in 1720 he became the first Professor of Anatomy at Edinburgh University. His course of lectures included the history of anatomy, the treating of osteology, the treating of the soft parts, the relation of the anatomy of animals to that of man, surgical operations, and general physiology. In 1745 he tended to the wounded on the battlefield after the Battle of Prestonpans. His published works include  Osteology, a treatise on the anatomy of the human bones  (1726), and  An account of the inoculation of smallpox in Scotland. In July 1755 Monro's son Alexander joined him as Joint Professor and in 1764 he resigned his Professorship although continued to give clinical lectures. Professor Alexander Monro, primus, died of a pelvic cancer on 10 July 1767.

Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Clinical cases of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, acquired May 1961, Accession no. E61.15. History of anatomy, transferred from the Anatomy Library, Edinburgh University, June 1962, Accession no. E62.28. History of anatomy, transferred from the Anatomy Library, Edinburgh University, June 1962, Accession no. E62.29. History of anatomy, acquired October 1975, Accession no. E75.47. Short history of anatomy, acquired July 1980, Accession no. E80.54. Accession no. E93.123; Accession no.E94.52.


Note that item E94.52 was not found at the time of writing this description. Note also that when this record was created any associated photographic/illustrative was unseen.

The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.).  Dictionary of national biography. Vol.13. Masquerier-Myles. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to Monro related material (check the Indexes for more details): miscellaneous notes and lecture notes on anatomy, surgery, and including some printed material, relating to Alexander Monro Primus, Alexander Monro Secundus, and Alexander Monro Tertius, at Phot.511; and, papers of Professor J. C. Brash on the Monros, at Dk.6.24. There is also material in the Laing Collection: a fragment of  History of anatomy, at La.II.410; and, letters of Monro to Charles Mackie, 1735, at La.II.91. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: papers, circa 1717-1753, University of Otago, Medical Library, see HMC MS papers of British scientists 1600-1940, 1982; notebook, 1742-1743, University of British Columbia, Woodward Biomedical Library, see Union list of MSS in Canadian repositories, suppl 1977-78; lecture notes, 1748, Royal College of Surgeons of England, see HMC MS papers of British scientists 1600-1940, 1982; lecture notes, 1742-1766, Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, Ref. MSS 3615-17, 5588; essay on female conduct, 1738-1739, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 6658-6659; and lecture notes, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Ref. Monro NRA 16015 Coll of Physicians.