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- Medical careers & training
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- My RCP
From the founding charter of 1518 to 20th-century reports on the effects of smoking, the institutional archives contain a wealth of material on the Royal College of Physicians' role in relation to contemporary medical advances. The RCP was founded so that physicians could be formally licensed to practice and those who were not qualified could be exposed and punished. The legal documents archives contain invaluable material defining the RCP’s changing role in setting standards in medical practice.
Manuscripts and personal papers
RCP members have always collected manuscripts and papers on a wide range of medical and non-medical topics. As a result, the archives contain an eclectic collection of 14th- to 19th-century manuscripts including works on astrology, alchemy, religion, travel, medical theory and medical practice. Also, personal papers of past fellows from the 16th century to the 20th century provide glimpses into the personal lives and social concerns of many distinguished physicians.
We are producing a range of guides to support researchers, which will be published below as they become available.
If you or someone you know is researching family history and has a medical ancestor, use our research guide to help you find out more.
Below is our guide to original resources on the history of medicine, ideal for thesis research.
Below is our guide to original resources on domestic medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The archives are available by appointment. See access for researchers for full details and how to make an appointment.
External finding aids
- A2A(Access to archives) - the website is hosted by the National Archives and provides full details of many of the RCP’s archives
- AIM25 (Archives in London and the M25 area) - the website provides summaries of many of the College's collections of personal papers.
Other historical resources at the RCP
Read our weekly historical collections blog
Lives of the fellows
The RCP has an almost complete collection of obituaries of past fellows since 1518, known as Lives of the fellows. It provides a unique resource for those interested in medical, social and family history.
Our rare book and special collections hold material on RCP activities and the lives of physicians from the 16th century to the present day.
Museum and garden
Our museum collections of portraits, silver and medical artefacts are displayed throughout our celebrated Grade I listed headquarters in Regent’s Park
Our garden contains over 1,300 plants, each used in some way as medicine around the world over the past 3,000 years.
Contact the Archives
Tel: 020 3075 1505