Photographs of the Middle East, particularly Israel, Palestine and the Scottish Mission Hospital at Tiberias, also North Africa 1880-1968, France and Serbia 1916-1918, India 1936, Europe, U.S.A., Canada 1954-1974; subjects are views, the hospital, local people and customs, biblical representations, flora and fauna, medical conditions, World War I; photographs by the Torrance family; professional and commercially produced photographs, postcards, lantern slides, film strips, particularly of Israel, Palestine and Middle East mainly by G. Eric Matson of American Colony, c.1920-1972, also "L&L", Photoglob Zurich(photographs derived from Bonfils), and others; notebooks kept by Torrance of flora and fauna, biblical references, local customs, 1929-1973, medical conditions c.1940; rules on nurses' attitude to patients, early 20th cent.
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 254 MS 38
- Dates of Creation1880-1981
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish
- Physical Description3.90 linear metres. The records are on paper and include photographs and glass slides.
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
David Watt Torrance, son of Dr Thomas Torrance of Airdrie was educated at Glasgow University, graduating MB in 1883. Despite being offered a post at Glasgow Infirmary he travelled to Palestine in 1884 and assisted in the inauguration of the Sea of Galilee Medical Mission. Following further training in Egypt, Damascus and Nazareth he returned in 1885 to Tiberias and opened the first hospital for those of any race or religion in two rooms near the Franciscan monastery. A move to Beit abu Shamnel abu Hannah preceded the opening of a new hospital with 24 beds and 6 cots in 1894. He was ordained in the Free Church of Scotland in 1895. During World War I (1914-1918), Dr Torrance served as resident officer in charge of Oakbank War Hospital in the west of Scotland. Dr Torrance married three times and had a large family. He died in Tiberias on 26 August, 1923.
His son, Herbert Watt Torrance, was educated at Glasgow University, graduating MB in 1916. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, served in France and Serbia and was awarded the Military Cross. After demobilisation he returned to Glasgow University as demonstrator and lecturer and to study for the FRCS. In 1921 he was awarded the degree of MD and went to Tiberias where in 1923 he became superintendent of the hospital. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. For services rendered during the British Mandate in Palestine he was awarded the OBE.
Herbert Torrance married twice and had two daughters. Following the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948 the mission hospital in 1949 became a maternity hospital responsible for midwifery and gynaecology in Northern Galilee under the Israeli Department of Health. In 1959 the hospital closed but a hospice for travellers was established in the buildings and a resident minister and bookshop continue the work of mission in Tiberias. Dr H.W. Torrance retired to Dundee in 1953 and died in 1977.
Photography was an abiding interest for Herbert Watt Torrance. The collection provides a record of the main period of the British Mandate, the increasing rate of Jewish immigration and the impact of the State of Israel on the landscape. It also contains many photographs of medical conditions which subsequently have been eradicated. Dr Torrance's interest in flowers, animals and archaeology is well represented and many photographs show examples of the "biblical situations" popular with photographers. The collection also contains a number of G. Eric Matson and Felix Bonfils photographs.
Records are arranged chronologically within series.
Conditions Governing Access
Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.
The records were deposited by the Torrance family in 1977 (AccM/32) and by a private depositor in 1998 (AccM/378).
Fonds level description compiled by Sarah Chubb, Archives Hub Project Archivist, October 2001.
Other Finding Aids
Descriptive list. Subject source lists and databases are also available.
Alternative Form Available
No known copies.
Conditions Governing Use
Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges are made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply.