Stephen McGann from BBC’s Call the Midwife visits the RCOG

For today’s Explore Your Archive post, themed around ‘A Year in Archives’, we’re taking a short detour from the life, work and times of William Blair-Bell to focus on the achievements of our College’s library and heritage services. This year has been a busy one for us. We welcomed a new Archivist as well as a new Curator for the College’s museum collections.

Actor Stephen McGann beside images from the historic photograph collections Royal College of Midwives, which are housed at the RCOG.
Actor Stephen McGann beside images from the historic photograph collections Royal College of Midwives, which are housed at the RCOG.

The museum collection has been a fixture of the College since 1938. The College Museum collected and displayed pathological specimens and surgical and obstetrical instruments charting the history of obstetrics and gynaecology. From 1988, following the transfer of most specimens to other hospitals, the Museum refocused on displaying rare obstetric instruments. These include the Chamberlen forceps, the first modern forceps made and used in Europe in the 17th century.

In addition to these treasures, the College is also home to the museum collection of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), which features midwives’ bags, uniforms and badges.

On the 17th November, we displayed these incredible heritage collections as part of an exclusive exhibition for An Audience with Stephen McGann. During the event, Stephen spoke about his role on the series and gave his perspective on the evolution of doctor-patient relationships in Britain. The event was organised in collaboration with the College of Medicine and hosted at the RCOG’s headquarters near Regent’s Park.

Over 100 guests attended the evening and took in highlights from both the RCOG and RCM’s collections including a 1914 student midwife’s casebook and obstetric forceps designed by renowned Scottish obstetrician William Smellie.

The evening was a huge success and marked the start of a brave new era for the RCOG and RCM’s museum collections. Further exciting exhibitions, open days and heritage events are in the works for 2017.

Watch this space!

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