The creation of the Museum Collection was the brainchild of the Foundation Council in 1953. Who recognised the importance of collecting and preserving the wide range of instruments and equipment used by GPs during the last two centuries.
What kinds of objects does the museum contain?
The collection consists of over 1000 individual objects, some of which are rare and of outstanding interest and value. A few items predate the 18th century and the whole collection is of great importance to the heritage of general practice.
The variety of items in the museum bears witness to the extent and diversity of skills. Practised by both our contemporaries and predecessors. The curators have catalogued the acquisitions according to their specialty to facilitate the individual interest of General Practitioners and other professionals in primary care. Many of the items will be of significance to those interested in the History of Medicine.
The earliest objects include antique apothecary jars and a mid-17th century pewter baptismal syringe. On permanent display is our Edmund Culpeper monocular microscope with accessories, circa 1725.
How can I view the collection?
The RCGP Headquarters at 30 Euston Square hosts a series of temporary exhibitions which highlight the collections. Please check to see what exhibition is currently on display. Recent themes have included Women at the Heart of General Practice and the 70th Anniversary of the College.
The majority of artworks are also on permanent display.
It is also possible to view aspects of the collection via prior appointment with the Archivist.
If you are a member of the College and would like to see or obtain more information on the Collection please contact the Archivist, who would be pleased to help.
If you are a member of the public and are interested in viewing the collection, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an enquiry.
We are gradually cataloguing the museum collections and hope to have a searchable online database available in the next couple of years.
How will the collection develop in future?
Fellows, Members of the College and many other benefactors have given generously towards the Collection over the years and continue to do so.
We would welcome further donations of medical equipment used by past GPs which could fill gaps in the collection. Please contact the Archivist with any queries.
Introduction to the Royal College of General Practitioners Heritage Oral History Collections
History of the collections
We have a strong collection of oral history interviews in the archives which have been collected through a series of projects over the years.
The first project took place in 1995, with further projects every few years right up to the present day.
In 1995 The Nuffield Trust gave the College £4000 to create oral history videos of "eminent College Fellows". Dr Alastair Donald, Chairman of the Museum and Archives Committee conducted all the interviews until 2000. Filming was by Drs Willie Fulton, Douglas Garvie and Alec Keay. In 2005, after a further grant of £10,000. The project was restarted with the filming being done by Imperial College. The interviewers either members of the Heritage Committee or suggested by them.
These are unfortunately all only available in video format and are not currently digitised.
Following the move of the College headquarters from Princes Gate to 30 Euston Square in 2012 further oral history projects commenced, largely using trained volunteers. This included the following group Oral History Interviews Conducted with Kentish Town GPs (including John and Elizabeth Horder) in the Pineapple pub. With Dr Robert McGibbon and Dr Carole Reeves. Interviews with former RCGP fellows and members, as part of the NHS at 70 project. In collaboration with Dr Stephanie Snow at the University of Manchester.
These interviews are available in digital format.
In 2021 freelance archivist, Philip Milnes-Smith, began a project to collect ‘covid stories’. These are oral histories which represent the experiences of GPs and the College through the early years of the Covid pandemic.
In 2023 a new oral history project was embarked on with an emphasis on diversity. The aim is to increase oral histories to show the diverse membership of RCGP. To increase collections from the devolved nations, where previously there had been a very England heavy focus to the collections. As well as to collect interviews from past eminent officers.
The most recent oral history interviews are not yet available for research as they are still being processed but they will be available in a digital format.
Using the Oral History Collections
Unless specified otherwise these collections are available to listen to for research purposes. However, there may be elements of some which are under review or hold some redactions in parts.
It should also be noted that only a proportion of the collections are available digitally. Many of the oral histories remain in older formats e.g., VHS, cassette and are therefore not as readily available. We unfortunately do not currently have the technology to access these interviews and process them into a digital format but hope to achieve this in the near future.
Interviews from our most recent projects are not yet available as they are still being processed but will be added in due course.
If you would like further information or would like to access any of the oral history collections, please contact the Archivist on email@example.com in the first instance.