The RSM is home to an extraordinary archive collection. Offering a fascinating insight into the history and evolution of the medical profession, the archive holds stories about the lives of members and individuals associated with the RSM from the last 200 years.

The records date back to 1805 and provide a unique resource describing the RSM’s history, from how the 19th-century medical societies joined together to form the Society, to modern-day records illustrating its current work. 

Library - rare books

Rare books and items

In addition to the RSM’s own records, the archive possesses a rich collection of rare medical books and manuscripts dating back to the 15th century.  

These include gifts from RSM Fellows, notably Edward Jenner, Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur, who not only gave their own work but donated treasured classics.

Library - Charles Darwin card item

Collection highlights

Highlights of the RSM's archive collection include:

  • The  Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus  by William Harvey published in 1628 
  • Letters by historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Edward Jenner, Sigmund Freud and Jean-Martin Charcot 
  • Minute books and documentation illustrating the rise of medical societies in the 19th century; they went on to form the RSM
  • The Diamond Collection, a unique collection of 22 photographs of psychiatric patients by early British psychiatrist and photographer Hugh Welch Diamond 
  • Illustrations, prints, photographs, engravings and drawings of medical figures

Library - archive cards

Sections and Forums Archive

Records from each of the RSM’s Sections and Forums dating back to their formation are available in the archives. These cover council and meeting minutes, attendance books, programmes, membership lists, correspondence and abstracts.

Records also include minutes and papers from wartime committees from both World Wars, and various health committees that date back to 1873.

Learn more about the history of the RSM, and how it amalgamated with 15 medical societies to become the Royal Society of Medicine.

Library - old book close up

Viewing our collection

The RSM archive is a unique research resource and the collection is open to members and external researchers.   

We also welcome donations of archive material from amalgamating societies or individuals who have made a significant contribution to the work of the RSM.  

For research enquiries or to make an appointment to view archive material, please contact the Library on 020 7290 2940/2941 or email library@rsm.ac.uk.