Archivists at the Wellcome Library have gathered information about archive and manuscript material held in other UK repositories. The Library’s own archival acquisitions are reported to the National Register of Archives annually. Here are some of the major sources for archives relating to the history of medicine in the UK.
Hospital Records Database
Hospital Records Database is a comprehensive, up-to-date survey of hospital records, including patient records, currently held in public repositories and health authority archives. The database includes:
- historical information about the hospitals
- details of the surviving administrative and clinical records
- locations of records and archives
- information about lists, catalogues and finding aids available for each collection
- around 3000 entries which are regularly updated.
You can search the Hospital Records Database online for the name of an hospital or by town.
For more complex searches, or to supply additional information about hospital records, please email the Archives team.
The Hospital Records Database is a joint project of The National Archives and the Wellcome Trust. Information is compiled and updated by Wellcome Library archivists, while the website is hosted by The National Archives.
Hospital records at the Wellcome Library
The survival of hospital records, especially records relating to individual patients, is very sporadic. Certain types of institution are particularly unlikely to have surviving records: especially private nursing homes, and wartime establishments that came into existence for the duration of the war and its immediate aftermath only. Records of military and naval hospitals are also under-represented as these fall outside usual health service administration.
Most hospital records are now NHS records, since most hospitals in the UK became part of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948. The Wellcome Library does not hold any NHS records.
However, the Library does hold a few archive collections from private mental institutions, which never became part of the NHS. Details of these and other material relating to the history of individual hospitals can be found in the subject guides about hospitals and psychiatric institutions.
The Medical Archives and Manuscripts Survey covers all types of medical and health-related records from 1600-1945, held in repositories in the Greater London area.
The survey provides information on papers with a bearing upon health and illness; in addition to the records of medical practice, it includes broader issues such as nutrition, sewage disposal, water supply and the disposal of the dead.
Over 100 repositories were surveyed during the course of the 1990s. The survey was published on the web in 2000 and has not been updated since then.
Download the full Medical Archives and Manuscripts Survey [PDF 2MB].
Please note: this document is 325 pages long.
Some contact details for repositories may have changed since publication. Please consult the ARCHON directory for up-to-date contact information on archive repositories in the United Kingdom before getting in touch with a repository about any material listed in this survey.
Researchers wishing to find out if any data is held about medical records in a repository outside London may email the Archives team.
Historical Records of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Britain
This database contains entries for over 560 pharmaceutical companies that manufactured, dispensed, sold or distributed, medicines, drugs or galencials between 1750 and 1968. The database also contains some references to veterinary products and information about trade associations, trades union and employers' organisations allied to the pharmaceutical industry. It includes records currently held by companies, as well as those in public repositories. The survey was carried out by the Business Archives Council with funding from the Wellcome Trust.
The Historical Records of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Britain survey is available on the Library’s networked computers to registered members.
This database is the result of a national survey of veterinary practices, organisations, industry and academic institutions with records of veterinary medicine dating from earliest times to date.
The database records the location of records of veterinary surgery in the UK that are accessible to researchers. It contains over 600 records from the earliest times to the year 2000.
As well as veterinary surgeons and their predecessors such as farriers or cow doctors, the database includes records of scientists, trade associations and government bodies with a relevance to veterinary medicine. It was carried out by the Business Archives Council with funding from the Wellcome Trust.
The Historical Records of Veterinary Medicine survey is available on the Library’s networked computers to registered users.