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Thomson, Allen: Papers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0114 MS0292
Held at: Royal College of Surgeons of England
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Full title: Thomson, Allen: Papers
Date(s): 1829-1877
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 box
Name of creator(s): Thomson | Allen | 1809-1884 | anatomist and embryologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Allen Thomson was born in 1809. He was the grandson of John Thomson (1765-1846), Professor of Military Surgery, and of General Pathology at the University of Edinburgh. He was also the first Professor of Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Allen Thomson was educated in Edinburgh, graduating MD in 1830. He then travelled to Europe, visiting Amsterdam, Strasbourg and Berlin, where he studied anatomical and pathological museums before returning to Edinburgh in 1831, as Lecturer in Anatomy and Physiology. He set up a teaching partnership with William Sharpey, where he taught the physiology, and Sharpey taught anatomy. The partnership lasted until 1836 when Sharpey was appointed Professor of Anatomy at University College London. Thomson became a Fellow of the Edinburgh College in 1832. He travelled to London and Europe for further anatomical study in 1833. He became Private Physician to the Duke of Bedford and his family in 1837, before being appointed to the Chair of Anatomy in Aberdeen in 1839. He returned to Edinburgh to become a teacher of anatomy in the extramural school in 1841, and then became Professor of Institutes of Medicine (Physiology) at the University of Edinburgh. One of the innovations that he introduced on his return to Edinburgh was to use the microscope in the teaching of anatomy. He became Chair of Anatomy at the University of Glasgow in 1848, until his retirement in 1877. By the time of appointment to Glasgow he had amassed a large collection of material for anatomical and physiological teaching which was added to the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1838, and of London in 1848, later becoming President of that Scoiety. He became President of the British Association in 1876, and was honoured with the degrees of LLD from the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. He died in 1884.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Allen Thomson, 1829-1877, comprising a manuscript copy of Thomson's first paper delivered to the Medical Society, titled On the foundation of the egg and the evolution of the chick, c 1829; a volume of manuscript notes, titled Synopsis of Lectures on Physiology; Session 1842-1843 by Allen Thomson; copied from the boards by James Keith; synopsis of 95 physiology lectures by Thomson, taken by D R Haldane, 1844-1845; volume titled Capacity of Crania; Bulk of Skulls, c 1850-1877, including measurements, notes and lists; travel journal kept by Thompson whilst abroad with his father in 1833, including visits to London, Rotterdam, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Containing his 'passport' signed by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh; manuscript notes from lectures on animal electricity given to Professor William Thomson's class, 29 Mar 1851, and notes on animal motion given to Dr A Buchanan's [?] class, Apr 1850; manuscript notes on 'electrical fishes', c 1853; manuscript notes of 19 lectures on comparative anatomy of the nervous system [May-Jul 1857]; manuscript notes of 12 lectures on the comparative anatomy of the organs of nutrition in Vertebrata, [May-Jul 1858]; manuscript notes of 15 lectures on the development and comparative anatomy of the brain, [May-Jul 1862]; manuscript notes of 'a few remarks made upon specimens of skulls exhibited at a conversazione of Philos. and Eng. Societies in Queen's Rooms on 11th Feb. 1863. Illustrating the relations between the head of man and that of animals'; manuscript notes of lectures on the nervous system, [1864]; manuscript notes on the nervous system, c 1857-1865; manuscript 'notes and tables connected with the races of mankind'; manuscript 'tables of the animal kingdon and races of man'.

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:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated by Professor John Millar Thomson, Allen Thomson's son, in 1922, 1927 and 1929.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The National Library of Scotland: Papers and correspondence; University of Glasgow: Papers and lists of anatomical preparations; University of Glasgow Library: Papers and correspondence, 1848-1877 (DC 300); Wellcome Library: Correspondence with William Sharpey and E A Sharpey-Schafer (PP/ESS).

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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