Manchester Medical Collection: Publications Series A-G

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 MMC/1a
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English  unless otherwise stated.
  • Physical Description
      Approximately 10, 740 items
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

It is assumed that this collection of published material by Manchester-related medics was begun by EBL. It has since been continued by members of JRUL staff, who have collected material and incorporated donated material. An activist collecting policy was maintained until the 1960s, since when material has been added only on an occasional basis. The current collecting policy will be to incorporate any donated published material, but JRUL will not aim to document in a comprehensive fashion the publications of Manchester -associated medical pracititioners.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Manchester Medical Collection is a unique body of archive materials relating to the history of medicine in the Manchester area. The Collection was the creation of Ernest Bosdin Leech, a honorary physician at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and a keen local historian. Leech conceived of the Collection as a means of bringing together material on all aspects of Manchester medical history into a single resource for researchers. The Collection was begun in the days before the existence of proper archive repositories, and Leech saw the need to salvage material before it was lost to posterity. At the centenary meeting of the MMS on 3 October 1934, Leech announced in his presidential speech that he was donating the collection to the Library:

"Some 25 years ago I began to collect everything I could find relating to Manchester medicine in the wider sense. ... The collection contains books by Manchester medical men, both medical and literary, and about Manchester medical men, also pamphlets by them, and also any biographical notes I have been able to find. I can at least say of the collection that I don't know of any town that has a similar one."

(Manchester Medical Society Archive, MMS/1/11/3/10).

Leech's collecting strategy was eclectic: he aimed to gather together material on a variety of different subject areas using a diversity of sources. The Collection has material about the lives and writing of Manchester doctors, there are documents concerning the professional societies these doctors belonged to, local hospitals and medical charities, medical education in the city in the medical schools and at the University, material on specific subjects such as public health, diseases, nursing, medical insurance, and significant incidents in local medical history. The Collection has the outward appearance of an accumulation of research material for a major study of local medical history, but there is no evidence that Leech intended to write this. Rather he wished it to be used as a resource for others. Although Leech died in 1950, the Collection has been added to (on a more modest scale) up to the present day. The biographical files have been continuously updated. For a period, the publications files were also updated, given the massive expansion of articles and notices published in the specialist medical press it is no longer considered feasible or necessary to do this. In other areas, the development of dedicated archive facilities in the Manchester area has meant collections like the MMC were no longer as necessary for salvaging material.

The MMC was evidently a labour of love for Leech. The extent of the collection is witness to long hours he spent acquiring material, annotating published material and scouring newspapers and medical directories for snippets of information about his medical counterparts. Leech was a well-read antiquarian historian, and he used the publications of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society and Chetham's Society to locate a wealth of interesting and arcane information to add to the Collection. He also went to the original sources and noted down information of interest, including information in the minute books of the MRI from the 1750s to the 1930s. The result was a series of small notelets in his distinctive hand, identifying references for scholars to undertake follow-up research. Although Leech never published a magnum opus on Manchester medicine, he did publish several monographs, Medicine in the provinces of England, Picturesque episodes of Manchester medical history, and Early medicine and quackery in Lancashire.

A sociable man, Leech's connections with local medical societies ensured that he was able to acquire and preserve their archives. He was an active member of the Manchester Medical Society, serving on its library committee and was president in its centenary year 1933-4. The Society's archive was originally part of the Collection (although it is now treated as a discrete collection). Through his connections, Leech was able to acquire the records of a number of smaller societies like the Manchester Therapeutic Club and the Clinique. Leech was assisted by other local medical historians in his work, in particular Edward Mansfield Brockbank (1866-1959), a cardiologist at the MRI, who published histories of the MRI honorary staff, Cheadle Royal Hospital, the official history of Manchester Medical Society and The foundation of provincial medical education in England(1936). Like Leech, Brockbank was president of the MMS and long-standing member of its library committee which he chaired from 1906-1951. His son, William Brockbank (1900-1984) looked after the MMC following Leech's death, and added a good deal of valuable material. Medical librarians of the JRUL have also added material to the Collection.

When the Collection was catalogued between 2002-2004, a decision was made to restrict the acquisition of new material. In some areas such as the biographical files, it is considered desirable to continue updating this material as it is a unique and valuable resource for researchers. In other areas, particularly the medical subject areas, it is not really possible to devise a collecting brief which accurately reflects the intentions of the creator of the Collection. . In many cases, material 'salvaged' by Brockbank and Leech is now collected in a systematic manner by local libraries and archives. The idiosyncrasies and enthusiasm of Leech the collector should be respected by accurately representing what he did collect through the catalogues rather than attempting to emulate his unique enterprise.


Arranged alphabetically by individual. The reference code has been created to facilitate inclusion of new data. The identifier for each file is the individual's surname, together with initials at the end of the surname, if individuals share a surname in the collection e.g. MMC/2/SmithJo and MMC/1/SmithJG for Joseph Smith and Joseph George Smith respectively.

The on-line finding aid for the MMC has had to be divided into several files because of its size. A collection-level description MMC provides an oversight of the collection as a whole. Also available are the remaining Publications files MMC/1 H-Q and MMC/1 R-Z, the Biographical files MMC/2 A-GMMC/2 H-Q and MMC/ 2 R-Z. The remaining sections of the Collection can be found at MMC/3-16.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader, although some recent material containing personal information may be restricted.

This collection and the finding aids contain personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The UNiversity of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately.

Other Finding Aids

None. This finding aid supersedes the original classification scheme drawn up by EBL (see MMC/16/1).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies 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, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PP.

Custodial History

The collection was begun by Ernest Bosdin Leech. He donated it to the University Library in 1934 at the centenary meeting of the MMS. At the time the MMC comprised around 775 books and 110 boxes of papers. Leech continued to manage the Collection until his death. The Collection has since been maintained and developed by members of staff of the Library, with the assistance of Dr William Brockbank (1900-1984) who was Honorary Medical Archivist. The medical book collection is now administered independently of the MMC and forms part of the book stock of John Rylands University Library.

All material incorporated into the MMC is received as a gift. The collection is owned by the University of Manchester.


Occasional accruals expected.