CollectionGB 0817 Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society
TitleRecords of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society
Date18th century - 21st century
Extentc.200 volumes, 20 files and 5 plans: 15 linear metres
Creator NameAberdeen Medical Society (1789-1812)
Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society (1812- )
Administrative HistoryThe Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society was formed in 1789 by a group of twelve students keen to supplement the level of medical teaching offered at the time at King's and Marischal College. It was initially known as the Aberdeen Medical Society but was re-named the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society in 1812 when it was divided into two sections, First and Second: 'Senior' members were qualified doctors; 'Junior' members were medical students. The Junior Section was eventually dissolved and replaced by the University Medical Society.

The society initially met in a number of locations, but was able to gather together funds for a purpose built hall in King Street designed by Archibald Simpson. This opened in 1820 and remained the meeting place of the society until 1973 when it moved to its current location on the Foresterhill site.

The members of the society have been instrumental in shaping the direction of medical care in the city of Aberdeen and the surrounding area and their work has benefited the medical profession in profound ways. One of the most significant achievements of the Society, and in particular Professor Matthew Hay and Sir Ashley Mackintosh, was helping to promote and coordinate the successful completion of the Joint Hospitals Scheme in 1938.

Among many treasures in the Society's archives are the papers of Sir James McGrigor (1771-1858), the co-founder of the Medico-Chirurgical Society and Director-General of the Army Medical Department. Despite leading a wide and varied career as a military surgeon he remained a dedicated supporter of the Society throughout his life and was instrumental in raising funds for the building of its hall in King Street. McGrigor is also credited with laying the foundations for the modern army medical services.

Further information can be found in 'The Heritage of the Med-Chi', edited by A. Adam and J. D. Hutchison (2007).
Custodial HistoryThe institutional records of the Society were stored at its King Street premises from 1820 to 1973 prior to the move to the current site at Foresterhill. The Society met in a number of locations prior to this, including the houses of its members, later meeting in the Greek Classroom and then in a hall provided by Dr. Livingston, Honorary President, 1791-1812. It was only when the premises at 29 King Street were built that a more secure location was found for the records of the Society, the library having been established in 1791. The institutional records have been supplemented by various deposits made by members or relatives of former members in the intervening period. The largest single collection of deposited papers was made by Sir James McGrigor in 1847. Where possible, details relating to particular deposits are recorded in the custodial history field of particular series.
DescriptionRecords of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society including minutes, accounts, letter books, case books and lecture notes. The collection also includes the papers of former members of the Society, in particular those of Sir James McGrigor. This includes thirteen journals kept by McGrigor while chief of the medical staff of the Peninsular Army, a series of case books detailing the condition and progress of patients while surgeon to the 88th Regiment and various other papers including correspondence books, reports and registers.
AppraisalA large part of the library was sold in November 1967 [see minutes for period 1966-1968] and the slip catalogues, 'Synopsis of Catalogue' and the catalogue of Sir Alexander Ogston's collection of books provide an important record of the contents of the library built up since 1791.
AccrualsIt is not expected that the Society will accrue any significant collection of papers but any new deposits will be updated in the catalogue on a yearly basis. The minutes of the Society will be updated accordingly.
ArrangementAMCS/1: Institutional Records (including the minutes and accounts of the Society)
AMCS/2: Case Books and Thesauri
AMCS/3: Lecture Notes
AMCS/4: Deposited Papers (including the Papers of Sir James McGrigor)
Access StatusRestricted
Access ConditionsPlease note that although the catalogue is available via the Special Collections website, the papers are held by the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society at its offices in the Medical School building, Foresterhill, Aberdeen. Please contact the Society directly to arrange access to the records: Tel. 01224 437105; Email:

Some records contain personal information and may be closed for 75 (for adults) and 100 (for children 16 and under) years under the Data Protection Act (1998). See section AMCS/4/11.
Related MaterialThe papers of a number of past members and former presidents of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society are held by the Special Collections Centre at the University of Aberdeen:
MS 3179: Mary Esslemont papers (elected to Society in 1929; President 1957-58).
MS 3270: Robert Douglas Lockhart papers (President 1951).
MS 2853: Matthew Hay: medico-legal papers (1890-1905).

Papers relating to Sir James McGrigor:
MS 2581: Letter from Sir James McGrigor to James MacCartney in Dublin, 1842.
MS 3693: Autograph letter from Sir James McGrigor to John Gunning [deputy inspector of hospitals], 1813.

MS 2630: Minutes of the Aberdeen Medical Club, October 1868-February 1875 (contains details of presentations and debates heard at monthly meetings, including information about particular cases and medical developments taking place in Aberdeen and elsewhere during this period).
MS 1163: Records of the Garioch and Northern Medical Association and Buchan Medical Society, 1854-1935.

MS 3719: Menus for Founders Commemoration Dinner, 1955-1990.
MS 3179/13/7: The papers of Mary Esslemont also include a file of material relating to the Society covering the period 1959-1983 including Founders' Commemoration Dinner menus, Presidential addresses and other papers.

MS 3873/2/2/5: Medical degree diplomas from the Aberdeen Medical Society and from Edinburgh University, 1794-1797. Diploma of the Aberdeen Medical Society for Robert Scott, 1 October 1794, signed by the Honorary President William Livingstone, the secretary James Forbes, and by Alexander Smith and George Kerr. With impression of the Society's seal.
Publication Note'The Heritage of the Med-Chi', edited by A. Adam and J. D. Hutchison (2007).
'Sir James McGrigor. The Scalpel and the Sword: The Autobiography of the Father of Army Medicine', edited by M. McGrigor (Dalkeith, 2000).
'Wellington's Surgeon General: Sir James McGrigor', R. L. Blanco (Durham, N.C., 1974).
'Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society: A Bicentennial History 1789-1989', edited by G. P. Milne (Aberdeen, 1989).
'The Records of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society from 1789 to 1922', J. Scott Riddell (Aberdeen, 1922).
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