Hidden Voices – Manchester Medical Collection


Dr. Ernest Bosdin Leech (1875-1950) was the man responsible for forming the Manchester Medical Collection. This is an archive with material pertaining to medical advancement in the Manchester area.
Leech was born on 9th April 1875 and was first inclined to study for the church. Medicine interested him even more and he gained his MD in 1907, after which he held various resident posts at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. He also spent some time working at the Ancoats Hospital, served in the RAMC during WW1 and became a full physician at the MRI in 1921. He eventually became a consulting physician in 1935 until his retirement in 1938.

It was his interest in Manchester’s medical history that made him spend lots of time in the Society’s library. This was where he collected material pertaining to Manchester’s medical profession that now constitutes the Manchester Medical Collection.
Leech formed the collection with the intention of documenting everything about the area’s medical history. This included information about the work of medical professionals, hospitals, medical societies, charities and education and other topics like public health, nursing and ailments in Manchester.
It was in 1934 that Leech donated his collection to the University of Manchester Library. Medical historian Edward Mansfield Brockbank (1866-1959) helped him develop the collection. Brockbank’s son William curated the collection after both men died. As new documents are periodically added, the series now contains more than 30,000 documents.

The Manchester Medical Collection comprises of:

The Publication Series, MMC/1, has about 10,000 medical articles and papers written by Manchester physicians since the nineteenth century. As most copies are scarce, keeping the collection here helps researchers find out more about efforts of people and their institutions. This is helpful for hospital and university research work.

The Biographical Series, MMC/2, has data of more than 5,500 researchers from the 19th century up to today, collected from sources like medical directories, Manchester Medical Society forms and Bosdin Leech’s notes. It consists of photos and personal papers of individuals donated by the creators or descendants.

MMC/3 includes biographical data of the medical professionals in the NW of England active from the 17th to the 19th century. Most information was acquired from published material.

MMC/5 is comprised of materials about Manchester’s proprietary medical schools from the early 19th century onward. It includes a books of the School of Medicine and documents about the schools’ students and staff.

MMC/7 consists of material related to Manchester medical societies like annual reports, circulars, rulebooks and member lists. They are unique as not many have survived time, and are helpful in medical thought and discussion.

MMC/8 is comprised of documents about various medical not-for-profit organizations and well-being institutions in Manchester that existed from the early 19th century to the late 20th century.

MMC/9 includes material of most Manchester and Salford hospitals from the pre-NHS period and includes annual reports and rule books of important voluntary hospitals. It includes documents about the history, staff and medical services of voluntary, municipal and poor law hospitals.

MMC/12-14 is comprised of publications, pamphlets and documents related to Manchester public health. MMC/12 is more about public health reports of Manchester and Salford Corporations. MMC/13 contains documents about three Manchester public health bodies. MMC/14 deals with Manchester’s public health issues like food adulteration, burial grounds and treatment of mentally ill.

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