Graphical version

St Bartholomew's Hospital

Pathology Department of St Bartholomew's Hospital


Reference code(s): GB 0405 PA

Held at: St Bartholomew's Hospital

Title: Pathology Department of St Bartholomew's Hospital

Date(s): 1867-1962

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 143 volumes and 6 boxes

Name of creator(s): St Bartholomew's Hospital


Administrative/Biographical history:

Percivall Pott prepared the way for pathology at St Bartholomew's Hospital. He lectured on the causes and clinical manifestations of paraplegia resulting from pressure on the spinal cord due to abscess formation, and on the production of cancer of the scrotum in chimney-sweeps by the effect of soot. However, the real appreciation of the importance to surgeons of morbid anatomy came with the work and teaching of Pott's pupil, John Hunter. The developing interest in pathology within the Hospital meant that in 1726, just one year after being appointed Assistant Surgeon, John Freke was put in charge of the anatomical and surgical preparations. This collection, however, consisted almost entirely of urinary calculi, and the medical collection was small. Permission to perform post mortem examinations was not given until 1750. The opportunity to examine the process of disease in greater detail than had been possible at the time of operation provided the stimulus which changed opinion about the futility of enquiring into causes of disease. The Hospital was geographically in a very favourable position to obtain material for anatomical research for, until the Anatomy Act of 1834, the Company of Surgeons and thereafter the College of Surgeons, hired a house in Cock Lane where the bodies of criminals were delivered for dissection.

Interest in pathology continued to grow within the Hospital, with the donation of the pathological collections of John Abernethy and Edward Stanley to St Bartholomew's Hospital for the use of the Medical School. Stanley was appointed Assistant Surgeon in 1816, and edited the first catalogue of the pathological collections at the Hospital in 1831. James Paget, Assistant Surgeon to the Hospital in 1847 published his lectures on surgical pathology in 1853. The first lecturer in pathology, Alfredo Kanthack, was appointed in 1893 and was succeeded by Frederick Andrewes. He was appointed Pathologist in 1902, and provision was made for a laboratory, a bacteriological laboratory and a workroom for the museum curator. Classes in practical pathology and clinical pathology were held twice a year. The staff of the Department comprised one lecturer, six demonstrators, two junior demonstrators, a surgical registrar and five surgical pathology dressers. The new Pathology Department was opened in 1909, and an extension built in 1971. By 1973 the department had been subdivided into histopathology, haematology, chemical pathology and medical microbiology.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Pathology Department of St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1867-1962, comprising correspondence and general reports, 1882-1962, including correspondence concerning the Pharmacological Laboratory, 1900-1901; surgical post mortem registers, 1867-1936; histology and post mortem reports, 1924-1935; registers of complete cases, medical and medical post mortem registers, 1867-1936; post mortem reports, 1911-1913; clinical research papers, 1936-1937; microscope and bacteriological records of post mortem cases, 1909-1910; surgical pathological registers, 1899-1935; staff members, 1950-1951, including Hill End Hospital.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged as outlined in the scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

Researchers wishing to consult the archives should first contact the Archivist, St Bartholomew's Hospital, for an appointment.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is not permitted. However, single sheets dated after 1850 may be photocopied at the discretion of the Archivist. Photographs of items are obtainable, subject to copyright regulations, from the Department of Medical Illustration at St Bartholomew's Hospital. Arrangements can be made via the Archivist. Outside photographers and researchers' own cameras are not permitted.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

A catalogue in index card form is available at St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Records of the Pathology Museum of St Bartholomew's Hospital, held by St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives (reference: SBH/MU).

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: The Royal Hospital of Saint Bartholomew 1123-1973 edited by Victor Cornelius Medvei and John L Thornton (St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, 1974). Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: September 2001

Autopsies | Forensic medicine | Medical sciences
Hospitals | Health services
Medical records | Documents | Information sources
Surgery | Medical sciences
Medical institutions
Primary documents
Social sciences
Social welfare

Personal names

Corporate names
Hill End Hospital | St Albans
St Bartholomew's Hospital | Pathology Department

Smithfield | City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
St Alban's | Hertfordshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe