Archival Showcase- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

In our interview with archivist, Susan Leyden, we introduce you to one of Ireland’s history of science, medicine and technology archives.

What is the name of your collection?

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Overview of collection(s) (materials present, who does it relate to, etc).

Our collections relate to the history and development of RCSI as well as of Irish healthcare. They comprise of the College Archive, Special Collections (medical pamphlets, antiquarian books, medical instruments, wax models) and personal papers of prominent medical figures associated with RCSI and Ireland’s medical history.

Collection highlights (especially interesting material, overlooked sections, etc.)

At the heart of RCSI Heritage Collections is the RCSI College Archive. The College Archive exists to preserve the activities and history of RCSI. It aims to document the contribution of RCSI to past and future developments in healthcare education and practice in Ireland and the role of RCSI in influencing positive global health outcomes.

Medical instrument collection: Extending to more than 1,800 items in total, the RCSI Medical Instrument collection documents the development of tools and devices to aid surgical intervention from the eighteenth century to the present day.

William Wallace (1791-1879): This collection comprises patient catalogues, patient illustrations and published material relating to William Wallace’s medical career and, specifically, his study of skin diseases.

What is your favourite item in the collection?

Photo album from Emily Winifred Dickson collection- first female Fellow of RCSI (1894).The album depicts her in various clinical settings whilst completing her fellowship. The photos bring that particular time, place and person to life.

What collection/section receives the most requests?

Medical Pamphlets.

How can this archive be accessed by researchers?

Our reading room, by appointment with Archivist. We are going to launch a new digital heritage collections platform where researchers can access some of our collections remotely

Why is this collection significant? What is driving this collection of materials?

It is one of the few places in Ireland that specifically collects and preserves historical material relating to healthcare in Ireland.

Is your catalogue digitised? If so, could you provide the URL?

New digital platform to be launched on Heritage Week 2022.

RCSI Archives:



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