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Monro, Alexander (secundus): Notes of lectures

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0114 MS0291
Held at: Royal College of Surgeons of England
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Full title: Monro, Alexander (secundus): Notes of lectures
Date(s): 1776-1784
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 2 volumes
Name of creator(s): Curry | James | fl 1781-1784 | student of surgery
Thorburn | Mr | fl 1776 | student of surgery


Administrative/Biographical history:

No biographical information relating to James Curry or Mr Thorburn was available at the time of compilation.

Alexander Monro, secundus, was born in Edinburgh in 1733. He was the third son of Alexander Monro, primus, (1697-1767), Professor of Medicine and Anatomy at Edinburgh University. From an early age Alexander was designated as his father's successor as Professor of Medicine and his father took his education very seriously. Monro secundus' name first appears on his father's anatomy class list in 1744. The following year he matriculated in the faculty of arts at Edinburgh University. He began attending medical lectures in 1750. In 1753, still a student, he took over the teaching of his father's summer anatomy class and at his father's instigation was named joint professor of medicine and anatomy in 1754. He graduated MD in 1755, and then went on an anatomical grand tour, studying in London with William Hunter, and in Berlin with Johann Friedrick Meckel. He matriculated on 17 Sep at Leiden University and became friends with Albinus. His tour was interrupted when his father's recurring illness brought him home to take up the duties of the professorship in 1758. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1759. In the 50 years he taught at Edinburgh University Monro secundus became the most influential anatomy professor in the English speaking world, lecturing daily from 1 to 3pm, in the 6-month winter session. He spent every morning preparing for his class anatomical specimens from his own extensive collection. When the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh attempted to institute a professorship of surgery Monro acted vigorously to protect his chair, protesting to the town council against such a step. He succeeded in 1777 in having the title of his own professorship formally changed to the chair of medicine, anatomy and surgery, preventing the establishment of a course of surgery in Edinburgh for thirty years. The anatomical research which secured Monro's posthumous medical reputation was his description of the communication between the lateral ventricles of the brain, now known as the foramen of Monro. He first noted it in a paper read before the Philosophical Scoiety of Edinburgh in 1764. Monro was a member of the Harveian Society (a medical supper club), secretary to the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh, a manager of the Royal Infirmary, and district commissioner for the city of Edinburgh. He married Katherine Inglis on 25 September 1762, and they had two daughters and three sons. The eldest son Alexander Monro tertius (1773-1859), succeeded his father as Professor of Medicine, Anatomy and Surgery. Monro secundus died in 1817.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to Alexander Monro secundus, 1776-1784, comprising a 2 volumes of manuscript notes titled Lectures of Surgery by Alexander Monro MD, Professor of Anatomy and Surgery in the University of Edinburgh; transcribed from the copy of his lectures as taken down in short hand by Mr Thorburn in the year 1776. With additional abbreviations delivered during the years 1781-2-3 and 4 by James Curry, both containing a pen and ink portrait of Monro, and covering topics such as teeth, sutures, lithotomy, caesarean section, spinal injuries, ranula, trepanning, cupping, and inoculation.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As outlined in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

By written appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

No photocopying permitted.

Finding aids:

Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Library of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1928) by Victor G Plarr.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The provenance of this material is not known.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Royal College of Surgeons of England holds notes of lectures given by Alexander Monro primus and secundus, taken by Thomas Moore, and other unidentified students.

Exeter Cathedral, medical manuscripts; Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, lecture ntoes and correspondence; University of Edinburgh Library, lecture notes; Wellcome Library, lecture notes.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Anya Turner.

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:
Oct 2008

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