CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3753
TitleRobert Reid, Regius Profesor of Anatomy: papers
Date19th century - 20th century
Extent2 boxes
Creator NameRobert William Reid (1851 - 1939), Regius Profesor of Anatomy, University of Aberdeen
Administrative HistoryRobert W. Reid succeeded Sir John Struthers to the Chair of Anatomy in the University of Aberdeen, 1889 - 1925. He achieved prominence through the discovery of 'Reid's Base Line', and during his time in Aberdeen made significant contributions to the development of Anatomy and Anthropology in the University and locally. He established an anthropometrical laboratory in the Anatomy Department in 1896, which bred a varied output of early research papers in this new discipline and later, formed the foundations of the Department's significant work on the growth of children. With his encouragement and support, medical students formed the forward-thinking Anatomical and Anthropological Society (est. 1899), and in 1907 he succeeded in bringing together the disparate collections of anatomical, archaeological and anthropological material that then existed within the University to form the University of Aberdeen Anthropological Museum.
Custodial HistoryThis material remained in the Department of Anatomy, University of Aberdeen prior to its deposit in Special Libraries and Archives. MSU 1332 was transferred to Special Libraries and Archives c 1995 - 96 and ACC 066 transferred in May 2004.
DescriptionThis collection contains a small volume of Reid's research on 'anatomical variations' undertaken whilst at St Thomas's Hospital, London, 1874 - 1878 (MS 3753/1), but most of the papers date from his time as Professor of Anatomy in the University of Aberdeen, 1899 - 1925. The majority of these are lecture notes, newspaper cuttings and related papers for public lectures delivered by Reid, c 1891 - 1921 (MS 3753/2). This includes the very successful 'Popular Lectures in Anatomy' series that he initiated in 1891 and continued intermittently into the early twentieth century. Like all of his public lectures, this was intended to give the lay-person an opportunity to learn the basic principles of anatomy, but is perhaps of particular interest in that it also offered students the opportunity to sit an exam for which a certificate of merit was awarded. The inclusion of groups such as the prisoners of Craiginches Prison, Aberdeen and Aberdeen Working Men's Natural History Society in his lecturing circuit hints strongly at the largely benevolent, if paternalistic, nature of this work, and the collection certainly offers great scope for developing further research in this area.

The frequency of Reid's public work subsided in the early twentieth century as his University commitments grew, but in 1921 he was invited to give the inaugural series of John Farquhar Thomson lectures on the 'Structure and Functions of the Human Body', with the emphasis firmly upon '... the special purpose of affording information to young persons as to the due care of the body and the prevention of its abuse ...' (MS 3753/2/5).

The collection also contains material relating to Reid's short biography of Sir William MacGregor (1846 - 1919), Governor of Queensland, Australia (MS 3753/3). This includes copies of the biography in proof and published forms and a file of correspondence with MacGregor's widow, Mary MacGregor, Berwickshire, his daughter, Helen Faden-MacGregor, Switzerland and with a small circle of his friends and colleagues, including Sir Ronald Ross, editor of Science Progress.

An appreciation of Reid's own life, written by his friend and colleague Alexander Low (1868 - 1950), is also deposited with the collection (MS 3753/4).

N.B. Although Reid's papers contain examples of his public lectures, no examples of his University anatomy lectures appear to have survived.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsAccess restrictions apply to the anthropometric records deposited in this collection. For further details please seek assistance from Reading Room staff (e-mail: )
Related MaterialReid's contributions to the University of Aberdeen are recorded in the Department of Anatomy's papers (ref. MS U 1332) - in particular, the anthropometrical record series, 1896 - 1960s (MS U 1332/5) - and in the papers of the Anatomical and Anthropological Society (MS U 1437). Despite his role in founding the Anthropological Museum in 1907 and the monumental task of publishing a catalogue of its collections in 1912, there are very few extant records relating to his work in this area. It is possible that papers relating to his early work in the Museum may yet remain with the administrative records of Marischal Museum (successor of the Anthropological Museum). Additionally, the papers of his successor, Alexander Low (1868 - 1950) (MS 2629), contain excavation notes and reports for many of the archaeological skeletons gifted to the Museum in the first half of the twentieth century.
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