Papers of Professor Miles Harris Phillips

Scope and Content

Papers of Professor Miles Harris Phillips covering his medical career as a gynaecologist and obstetrician and his academic interest in the history of the specialty, comprising of research notes, reprints, correspondence, illustrations and photographs, and relating to his interest and research into the physicians and obstetricians Percival Willughby, William Smellie and Thomas Denman; to his publications and lectures on pregnacy complications and their treatment, including uterine action, caesarean section, obstetric shock, obstetric binders, puerperal fever, prolapse of the uretha and constriction ring dystocia; to his Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and membership of the Gynaecological Visiting Society; to his involvement as a medical specialist in legal inquiries, including the Departmental Committee on Maternal Mortality (1928-1932); to his involvement in the production and publication of the 'Historical Review of British Obstetrics and Gynaecology'; to his network of contemporaries in the United Kingdom and overseas, in particular Professor R W Johnstone, Professor John Munro Kerr, and Dr Pierce Rucker; and to his collection of historical works relating to obstetrics and gynaecology.

Administrative / Biographical History

Miles Harris Phillips was born in Portishead, near Bristol in 1875. Following a sound medical education at University College Bristol, Bristol Royal Infirmary, and King's College, London, from which he graduated with honours in obstetrics, he travelled to Japan as a ship's surgeon to recuperate from an illness, and returned to a position as house surgeon at Leicester Royal Infirmary. In 1904 he began his long association with the Jessop Hospital for Women, Sheffield, joining as resident house surgeon, and rising to senior surgeon and part-time professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Sheffield University between 1921 and 1935. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1903, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1937 and received honorary doctorates from Bristol and Sheffield in 1933 and 1939. He was President of the North of England Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (1918-1920), part-time Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Sheffield (1921-1935), and President of the obstetrics and gynaecology section of the Royal Society of Medicine (1937), and was also instrumental in restoring the library of William Smellie. On his retirement from the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and his hospital appointments in 1935, he returned to the West and settled in Laugharne, Camarthenshire. It was by no means a peaceful retirement, as he soon found that rural west Wales was in need of an organised obstetric and gynaecological service, and he helped to arrange and integrate existing hospital services in the province.

A Foundation Fellow of the RCOG from 1929, and member of Council between 1929 and 1940, Phillips was a Vice-President (1937 -1940) and an energetic member of the College. He was, among other things, a member of the Library Committee until his death, and served as an external examiner and member of various other committees. Phillips brought attention to 'Obstetric Shock' with his paper in 1934 and was a pioneer of many techniques which are now commonplace, in particular in respect to hysterectomies. He was a great lecturer and teacher and is probably best remembered as an avid collector of obstetrical works, a hobby which started around 1930. He died in Northampton in January 1965 at the age of 89.


By subject retaining original order where possible.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Donated to the RCOG Library from the estate of Professor Miles Harris Phillips and transferred to the College Archives in September 2007.

Other Finding Aids

A full detailed catalogue to file level is available from the College Archivist, mailto:

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Penny Bonning, Archivist in July 2011

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is vested in the estate of Professor Miles Harris Phillips.

Reproductions are available at the discretion of the College Archivist.

Custodial History

These papers were donated to the RCOG Library along with several boxes of reprints, both of papers by Miles Phillips himself and those collected by him in connection with his research.

This collection was the subject of a major cataloguing project completed between September 2009 and June 2011.

Related Material

Also held in the RCOG Archive are letters from Miles Harris Phillips to D B Stewart, 1939-1950, Archive Reference: S70