CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3179
TitleMary Esslemont, physician: papers
Date20th century
Extent80 boxes: 25 linear metres
Creator NameMary Esslemont (1891-1984), physician
Administrative HistoryMary Esslemont was born in Aberdeen in 1891, and in 1914 graduated BSc from the University of Aberdeen, where she participated fully in student life. She worked as an assistant in the Botany department at the University of Aberdeen, and as a science lecturer at Stockwell Training College, London, before entering the medical school, from which she graduated in 1923. She was appointed assistant medical officer of health in Keighley, Yorkshire, from 1924-1929, before returning to Aberdeen, where she was in private practice for over 30 years.

She was a member of council of the British Medical Association for 23 years, during which time she served on its Public Health, Amending Acts, Joint BMA and Royal College of Nursing, Occupational Health, and Journal committees. She was also the first woman to serve on the Scottish Council, and became its chairperson in 1968. During her time in Aberdeen she became involved in many other local organisations and causes, for which work she was awarded freedom of the City in 1981. She served on the University General Council for over 40 years, and in 1947 became the first woman assessor on the University Court. Maintaining her family's well-established association with local politics (her father and grandfather had both been Liberal MPs for Aberdeen South), she became first woman president of Aberdeen Liberal Association in 1954. In 1954 she received an honorary LL. D. (Aberdeen) and in 1955 was awarded a C.B.E.

For further details see obituary in 'British Medical Journal', 289, (1984), 705.
SourceDeposited in the University in September 1984, by G. Birnie Esslemont.
DescriptionPersonal papers of Mary Esslemont, relating to all aspects of her life and career, including the several medical, political, humanitarian, and other voluntary organisations and good causes with which she was associated. The collection contains a significant body of material relating to the British Medical Association, United Nations Association, Soroptimists, and Liberal Party. For further details of the collection content, see 'Arrangement', below.
AccrualsNone expected.
ArrangementThe collection is arranged in 26 series. Series 1 - 5 comprise personal papers; series 6 - 8 comprise professional papers relating to Mary Esslemont's core medical work; series 9 - 26 comprise papers relating to her public work for educational, medical, political, humanitarian and other voluntary organisations. Full details are as follows:

1. School records; 2. University lecture notes and class essays; 3. Personal correspondence; 4. Travel journals and slides; 5. Family photographs; 6. Lectures and addresses; 7. Health education pamphlets; 8. University of Aberdeen Court papers; 9. Dunfermline College of Education Board of Management papers; 10. British Medical Association; 11. Scottish Health Service Council; 12. Medical Women's Federation; 13. Medical Women's International Association; 14. World Medical Association; 15. Medical education conferences; 16. Population and family planning associations; 17. Nursing associations; 18. United Nations Association; 19. Soroptimists; 20. Scottish Convention of Women; 21. Liberal Party; 22. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; 23. National Council for Civil Liberties; 24. Cripples' Welfare Association; 25. Local groups.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThe records are available subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions.
Physical DescriptionNo physical conditions affecting use of collection.
Related MaterialInterviews with Dr Mary Esslemont (1891-1984), recorded on 9, 15 and 23 August 1984, as part of the University's Oral History Project (GB 0231 MS 3620/I/1-3). Transcripts available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: ). See also Aberdeen University Oral History web site.
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