Archives

Archives

Our archives tell the stories of physicians and their patients from the 13th century to the present day. 


The core of our archive content paints the Royal College of Physicians, from foundation to fruition. Founded in 1518 by six doctors, the RCP now has over thirty six thousand members worldwide. Our prominent role in the development of medical practice has always been driven by the skills and passions of the RCP membership. For this reason, the archives also include papers about members’ lives and careers. These collections provide a glimpse into the working and home lives of medical practitioners, and the people they treated. 

Donations

The RCP is always seeking to develop its collections. We welcome all types of donations related to the history of medicine, including instruments, equipment, photographs, artwork and medical teaching models.

For more information on donating to the museum, archive or library collection visit our donating to the collection page.

Volunteers

Our archives, library and museum teams benefit greatly from the work of volunteers and always welcome enquiries from the public. We particularly welcome enquiries from those considering a career or postgraduate qualification in archives and records management (no experience necessary).

For more information on volunteer opportunities visit our volunteering page.

The rich resources that make up our archive collection include:

  • diaries, letters, and casebooks of medical practitioners and students describing training and treatment
  • papers of influential doctors such as William Harvey and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
  • records of places physicians have worked, such as hospitals, dispensaries, workhouses, prisons, and military settings
  • documents relating to medical history, including campaigns to license women doctors, and the creation of the National Health Service
  • malpractice cases, chemist shop inspection registers, and global health surveys
  • drawings of anatomy and disease
  • building plans for our Regent’s Park Grade 1 listed headquarters.

We regularly publish blog posts about items from the RCP collections, spreading the stories of these fascinating items. You can also search our archive catalogue and make an appointment to find documents and write your own stories about the history of medicine. 

Privacy

The archive catalogues and other collection management documents may contain information about living persons, in relation to collection items. The RCP also keeps records on research visitors, to meet access and security requirements. Please view our permanent collections processing statement below for further details. 

Our digitised collections