The Littlejohn Collection

Scope and Content

Certificates and Diplomas, 1846 and 1898; Correspondence, 1857-1927; Photographs, c1860s-1920s; Publications,18th/19th Century.

The majority of the collection comprises correspondence received by Henry Duncan Littlejohn and Henry Harvey Littlejohn, with the exception of correspondence between Joseph Lister and John Chiene; these letters were sent to Harvey Littlejohn in 1926 and were found in his personal papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Duncan Littlejohn (1826-1914), the son of a wealthy merchant, was born in Edinburgh in 1826. He was educated at Perth Academy, the Edinburgh High School, and the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated with distinction; part of his medical training was at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, as well a period of study at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1855 he was appointed lecturer at the RCSEd and, in 1862, Surgeon of Police and Medical Officer of Health of Edinburgh, a position he held until 1908. In 1865 Littlejohn published a report on the sanitary conditions in Edinburgh which became a model for many similar works both at home and abroad. Following his appointment to the Board of Supervision, Littlejohn held the position of Medical Officer, advising until his retirement in 1908. For over forty years, Littlejohn lectured on Medical Jurisprudence at the Surgeons' Hall in Edinburgh, followed by an appointment to the Chair of the same subject at the university in 1897, a position he kept until 1905. For many years Littlejohn was Medical Advisor to the Crown in Scotland in criminal cases, and was frequently called upon to give evidence in cases of murder and other serious crimes. One of the main legacies of Littlejohn's life and work was the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, which he co-founded with Dr. John Smith. He also had nine years' service on the Royal Infirmary Board and outside medicine he had strong connections with St. Giles' Cathedral, of which he became an elder. Littlejohn's valued and influential work was fully recognised in his lifetime: President of the Royal College of Surgeons (1875-6), President of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Edinburgh (1883-5), and President of the Institute of Public Health (1893). In 1893 the University of Edinburgh made him an LL.D., and two years later he was honoured with a Knighthood. He died at Arrochar in Argyllshire on 30th September 1914.

Henry Harvey Littlejohn (1862-1927), the son of Henry Duncan Littlejohn, was widely known as an authority on Medical Jurisprudence and succeeded his father to the Chair of Forensic Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Harvey Littlejohn was educated at Edinburgh Academy (1873-7) before studying at the university, where he gained an M.A., B.M. and B.S., before becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and President of the Royal Medical College. Following his university education, Harvey Littlejohn spent time as Resident Physician in Edinburgh's maternity hospital, followed by a period of study abroad. From 1888-91 he assisted his father in the teaching of Medical Jurisprudence and in 1891 was appointed Medical Officer of Health to the City of Sheffield. In 1897 he began lecturing in Medical Jurisprudence at the Surgeons' Hall in Edinburgh, also lecturing in Forensic Medicine at the Royal College of Edinbugh. In 1906 he became Chief Police Surgeon in Edinburgh and frequently appeared as a witness for the Crown in many High Court cases. Latterly, he became the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Edinburgh, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health and member of several scientific societies. He died at a nursing home in Edinburgh on 15th August 1927 .


A preliminary survey of the collection was compiled in 2003 as a continuous Word document by Dawn Kemp, the RCSEd's Director of Heritage. The collection was re-surveyed in November 2007 by Chris Duncan, a post-graduate student at the University of Glasgow. The collection is now arranged chronologically by individual collection type (i.e. correspondence, photos, etc.), with the inclusion of access points for the majority of correspondees, many of whom were influential in their respective fields of knowledge.

Access Information

Access is granted by permission of Ms Marianne Smith, the College Librarian. There is no specific programme of conservation, although some of the more fragile items in the collection have been placed in acid-free folders.

Acquisition Information

Jim Fiddes

Other Finding Aids

List only at present.

Alternative Form Available

Photographic images are available for most items in the collection

Archivist's Note

Fonds, series, file and item level descriptions compiled by Chris Duncan, University of Glasgow, November 2007.

Custodial History

The collection was deposited at the RCSEd in 2003 by Jim Fiddes. Its custodial history before this date is not known at present.

Location of Originals

The collection material is original