27th January 2009 The Story of Medicine and Healthcare in the South West
To mark the launch of the Plymouth Medical Society Historic Collection, a special event was hosted on 27th January 2009 to celebrate ‘the story of medicine and health care in the South West’. The aim of the day was to bring together people with an interest in the history of medicine, both from a medical and historical background, and celebrate the importance of medicine in the region, and the fantastic resources available that record its history.
An exhibition displayed an amazing range of artefacts, archival material, photographs and medical texts. Contributors included Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Bere Local History Group, Devon Family History Society, Exeter Cathedral Library, Liskeard and District Museum, Plymouth and West Devon Public Record Office, Park Pharmacy Trust and Saltash Heritage. An exhibition exploring the changing ways in which the human body has been shown in anatomy was put together using images from the Historic Collection, and a version can be seen here:
After an opening address from the chairman of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust Professor John Bull, a series of fascinating talks included - an overview of the project by Dr Paul Youngs, ‘History and development of polar medicine’ by Dr Henry Guly, ‘History of medicine in Plymouth’ by Mr Denis Wilkins, ‘John Clarke (1760-1815) – one of John Hunter’s pupils’ by Dr Kenneth Hunter, ‘Naval medicine over three centuries’ by Surgeon Vice-Admiral Sir Godfrey Milton-Thompson, ‘Exeter Cathedral Library Medical Collections’ by Peter Thomas, ‘History of Medicine in Callington 1696 to the present’ by Alastair Tinto, and ‘Park Pharmacy Trust’ by Dr Jan Knight.
The event proved fantastically popular, and over 100 guests attended, including members of local history groups, museum, library and archive staff, medical professionals, public members of the hospital Foundation Trust, and Plymouth Medical Society members. Unfortunately, a number more who wanted to take part couldn’t as the capacity for the venues had been reached.
The day was a tremendous success, and revealed the richness of medical history and resources in the region. It also highlighted the genuine interest and value placed on medical history by people with a range of backgrounds. We hope that this is an indication of the value of the Collection, and that the project can help more people to appreciate and access this history in the future.