Sylvia Guthrie Papers

Scope and Content

This is a fragmentary archive of material collected by Dr Guthrie, partly as part of her professional duties and associations, but also because of her interest in the history of the Duchess of York's Hospital, her main place of work in her early career.

Former reference: J B 13

Administrative / Biographical History

Sylvia Kema Guthrie (née Hickson) was born in 1897; she was the daughter of Sydney Hickson, professor of zoology at Owens College, Manchester, and her mother was a former student of Girton College, Cambridge. Sylvia studied medicine at the University of Manchester, qualifying in 1920, and received the M.D. with commendation in 1926.

Immediately after qualification she took up junior hospital appointments in London at Queen's Hospital for Children, Shadwell and the Royal Northern Hospital. In 1922 she returned to Manchester and became medical registrar at the Manchester Babies' Hospital. In 1926 she became cardiological registrar in the newly formed Cardiology Department at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI). In thw same year, Sylvia Hickson married Gerrand Guthrie, and they later had two children.

Guthrie's main interests were neonatal and paediatric medicine, and she joined up with Catherine Chisholm at the Manchester Babies Hospital, Cringle Hall, Burnage in 1930 as senior resident medical officer. Chisholm had been making strenuous efforts to run a model maternity and children's hospital in Manchester, and one which encouraged the involvement of women doctors. Guthrie became one of the most important cliniciansat the Hospital, which was renamed the Duchess of York Hospital in 1935.

In 1934 Guthrie became a lecturer in child heath at the University of Manchester. She was also appointed consultant physician at the Duchess of York's, Booth Hall and Manchester Northern hospitals. She later set up a paediatric department at Wythenshawe Hospital and when she retired in 1963, she was recognised as Manchester's senior paediatrician.

Guthrie was very active in professional medical bodies, especially those which promoted the interests of women doctors. She was president of the Medical Women's Federation in 1960/1 and was a member of the Medical Women's International Association. she was chairman on Manchester Paediatric Club in 1950, a member of the British Paediatric Association and served as a member of the national committee of the Spastics Society.


The archive had no discernible arrangement on accession. It comprised mainly miscellaneous folders. An artificial series arrangement has been created

The collection has been arranged into three series:

  • SKG/1 Biographical Material
  • SKG/2 Lectures and Articles
  • SKG/3 Duchess of York Hospital Documents

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader, unless otherwise stated.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the Act 2018 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for archiving and research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

The archive was donated to the Library by Dr Guthrie in 1989.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

The archive has been appraised.


None expected.

Related Material

The Manchester Medical Collection includes a file on Guthrie (MMC/2/Guthrie) as well as some material on the Duchess of York's Hospital MMC/9/17 .The John Wilkinson papers include some of Guthrie's research slides (JFW/12/1/5). In addition, the Manchester Paediatric Club archive includes information on the first professional paediatric group in Manchester MPC.

The Library also looks after the archive of Guthrie's father, Sydney Hickson, but this does not include any directly related material.

The archives of the Duchess of York Hospital are beleived to have been transferred to Manchester Archives and Local Studies.


Peter Dean Mohr, 'Women-run hospitals in Britain: a historical survey focusing on Dr. Catherine Chisholm (1878-1952) and The Manchester Babies Hospital (Duchess of York Hospital)', Ph.D. Thesis, University of Manchester, 1995.

Geographical Names