An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

15791 entries, 13704 authors and 1919 subjects. Updated: September 13, 2022

ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS OF ENGLAND

7 entries
  • 9995

Anatomy. Copy of a letter from the council of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, to Viscount Melbourne.

London, 1831.

On December 5, 1831, the notorious London "resurrection men" John Bishop and Thomas Williams were executed for the murder of an itinerant fourteen-year-old (known only as the "Italian Boy"), whose corpse they had then attempted to sell to the anatomical demonstrator at King's College. Five days later, the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons-whose members included such luminaries as Astley Cooper, William Lawrence, Benjamin Collins Brodie, Charles Bell and Benjamin Travers-sent the present letter to Viscount Melbourne, the British Home Secretary, urging reform of the antiquated British laws governing procurement and possession of cadavers for dissection in medical schools. 

Since the mid-eighteenth century, obtaining cadavers for teaching purposes had been regulated in Britain by the Murder Act of 1752, which stipulated that only the corpses of executed criminals could be used for dissection. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, improvements in medical science, coupled with a substantial drop in the number of executions, caused the demand for cadavers to far outstrip the legal supply. This situation was ripe for exploitation by "resurrection men," criminals who robbed the graves of the newly deceased and sold their corpses to teachers of anatomy, who of necessity turned a blind eye to the illegality of these transactions. Some grave-robbers even resorted to murder, including the infamous William Burke, who in 1828 was tried and executed in Edinburgh for the murders of over a dozen victims whose corpses he and his partner Hare sold to an anatomical demonstrator connected to Edinburgh University.

Calls for reform of the 1752 Murder Act began to arise as early as 1810, and in 1828, the year of Burke's execution, Parliament appointed a select committee to "enquire into the manner of obtaining subjects for dissection by schools of Anatomy and the State of law affecting persons employed in obtaining and dissecting bodies." The horrific nature of the crimes committed by Burke, Bishop and Williams aroused public sentiment in favor of reform, a sentiment echoed in the present letter from the RCS Council, which spells out in detail the untenable position of students and teachers of anatomy under the then-current law. In 1832 Parliament passed the Anatomy Act, granting licenses to teachers of anatomy and giving physicians, surgeons and medical students legal access to corpses unclaimed after death. Digital facsimile of the reproduction of the "letter" in The Lancet from Google Books at this link



Subjects: ANATOMY › 19th Century, COUNTRIES, CONTINENTS AND REGIONS › England (United Kingdom), LAW and Medicine & the Life Sciences › Legislation, Biomedical
  • 12025

Catalogue of the library of the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

London: Printed by Richard Taylor, 1831.

Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link.



Subjects: BIBLIOGRAPHY › Catalogues of Institutional Medical Libraries
  • 13859

Descriptive catalogue of the pathological specimens contained in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 5 vols.

London, 18461849.

Vol.1: General pathology -- Vol.2: Pathology of the blood, and organs of locomotion -- Vol.3  Pathology of the organs of digestion, absorption and circulation -- Vol.4: Pathology of the respiratory and urinary organs, the nervous system and organs of the senses, the generative organs, and the mammary glands -- Vol.5: Specimens preserved in the dry state in cabinets. Followed by two supplments (London, 1863-64). Digital facsimile from wellcomecollection.org at this link.



Subjects: MUSEUMS › Medical, Anatomical & Pathological , PATHOLOGY
  • 13865

Descriptive catalogue of the fossil organic remains of Reptilia and Pisces contained in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

London: Printed by Taylor and Francis, 1854.

Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link.



Subjects: MUSEUMS › Medical, Anatomical & Pathological , ZOOLOGY › Herpetology, ZOOLOGY › Ichthyology
  • 13864

Descriptive catalogue of the fossil organic remains of plants contained in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

London: Printed by Taylor and Francis, 1855.

Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link.



Subjects: BOTANY, MUSEUMS › Medical, Anatomical & Pathological
  • 13863

Descriptive catalogue of the fossil organic remains of invertebrata contained in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

London: Printed by Taylor and Francis, 1856.

Digital facsimile from Biodiversity Heritage Library at this link.



Subjects: MUSEUMS › Medical, Anatomical & Pathological
  • 13861

Descriptive catalogue of the specimens of natural history in spirit contained in the museum Vertebrata: Pisces, Reptilia, Aves, Mammalia.

London: Printed by Richard Taylor and William Francis, 1859.

Digital facsimile from Biodiversity Heritage Library at this link.



Subjects: MUSEUMS › Medical, Anatomical & Pathological , MUSEUMS › Natural History Museums / Wunderkammern