About Our Collections

About Our Collections

This blog is brought to you by the heritage and library staff working with the historic collections of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (the RCOG).

This blog showcases the remarkable heritage and library collections of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Comprising museum objects, archives, rare books and journals, these collections cover the history of obstetrics and gynaecology from the 16th century to today. We hold the historic records of College charting its foundation in 1929 and its work as a professional body as well as a world leader in improving maternal health and wellbeing.

  • The Library Collection amounts to over 2000 books dating from the fifteenth century, including 2 incunables, 18 STC and 38 Wing items. Major works such as the obstetric atlases of Smellie and Hunter are held in multiple editions. As well as antique obstetrical and gynaecological books, the library holds editions of Vesalius’ anatomy and literature on Servetus and his discovery of the circulation of the blood. The historical collection is complemented by a range of secondary literature on the history of the specialty.
  • The Archive Collection is comprised of unpublished records of the RCOG and the RCM related to the founding of the colleges and their activities in training and to issues connected with obstetrics, gynaecology, midwifery and women’s health. The material includes photographs, plans and special collections of donated personal papers relating to the specialty.
  • The Museum comprises a unique collection of obstetric, midwifery, surgical and gynaecological instruments and artefacts spanning over four hundred years. This collection has been built up from a series of gifts and acquisitions since the foundation of the College.

Along with the heritage collections of the Royal College of Midwives, also held by the RCOG’s Heritage Service, our collections form a unique resource on the history of women’s health, clinical obstetrics, gynaecology and midwifery.

These heritage collections are open to researchers by appointment. Our staff answer enquiries, handle literature searches and run exhibits and open days for College staff and the public.

On this blog you will find:

  • Information on the collections we hold and how to access them.
  • Fantastic finds from our archive collections.
  • Photographs of obstetric bags, historic forceps and medical instruments from the RCOG museum collection.
  • Profiles of pioneering obstetricians and gynaecologists whose publications, archives and medical instruments are held by our heritage service.
  • Updates on events and exhibits held at the Library.

Disclaimer: This is the official blog of the library and heritage collections of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, but will not comment on or make statements on current College issues or procedures. Please see the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website for current guidelines, activities and statements at www.rcog.org.uk

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