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Welcome to the Archives Catalogue

The RCPE has its genesis in late 17th century Edinburgh when physicians started meeting in each other’s homes to discuss ways in which standards in medicine could be improved. One of the founding group was Sir Robert Sibbald, and in 1681 Sibbald petitioned King Charles II and was granted the College's Royal Charter.

The College’s founding Fellows wanted to advance medicine as a science and help the City’s poor and needy. Another early activity was examinations and the College has been an internationally recognised examining body since the 17th century.

Over the centuries many famous medical figures have been fellows and members. Many of them gave their own volumes, or volumes they had collected, to the College for safekeeping. In 2010 the Wellcome Trust gave a grant for a two-year project to catalogue these collections and make them more accessible to a wider public. The project started in February 2011 and was completed in May 2013.

It should be noted that the archives of the College itself, although accessible, have not been fully catalogued and are not yet available on this site.

Similarly, the College’s world renowned medical library has a separate catalogue. The library, which is open to all, contains over 50,000 printed monographs: twenty two titles were published before 1500 and around 700 titles were published before 1600. The subject areas covered include medicine, botany, science, alchemy and travel.

The library and archive are open to readers by appointment from 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Please contact us to arrange appointments.

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