Historical Manuscripts Commission

Summary report on the records


The Royal Veterinary College

retained by


(reference: GB-1510-RVC)

M Cale and J Spain, February 1993
Historical Manuscripts Commission

Table of Contents



Summary report

The Royal Veterinary College

Associated bodies

Papers of individuals

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Researchers must make an appointment prior to their visit. Enquiries should be addressed to the Librarian, The Royal Veterinary College, University of London.


The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) originated in 1791 when The Veterinary College, London was established in Camden Town on land leased from Lord Camden. The College was brought into being by members of the London Committee of the Odiham Agricultural Society, 'Gentleman Farmers' such as Thomas Burgess, who perceived the need for improved education in the treatment of sick animals and a more scientific approach to animal husbandry. The College was the first veterinary school in the English-speaking world, receiving its royal charter in 1875.

The Royal College of veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), a separate body which governs the veterinary profession in the UK, was founded in 1844.

During its two hundred year history the RVC has always occupied the Camden Town site, although in different buildings. In the late 1920s the College building was declared a dangerous structure. A nation-wide fundraising effort was launched and included 'The World's Largest Nosebag' appeal. The old College buildings were demolished in the early 1930s and replaced by new buildings which were opened by George VI in 1937. As a result of a legacy, the Beaumont Animals Hospital was established in 1932 on adjacent ground, continuing the 'Cheap Practice' or 'Poor People's Out-Patients Clinic', established in 1879.

In the Second World War most of the RVC was evacuated to Reading University at Sonning and Streatley, whilst the Beaumont Animals Hospital remained open at the Camden Town site. In 1949 the RVC became a School of the University of London. Later, in 1958, the departments of medicine, surgery and animal husbandry were transferred from Streatley to a new field station at Hawkshead, North Mymms, Hatfield, in Hertfordshire. The RVC celebrated its bicentenary in 1991.

The archives and historical collections of the College have been gathered together only within the last few years. They are housed at the Camden Town site in two rooms adjacent to the library and in a separate strong room. The Veterinary Museum, which came into existence in 1992, is located, at present, in the library gallery. Although the process of sorting and arrangement has largely been completed the records are not as yet catalogued. In the course of a brief visit, a shelf list was completed, from which a summary consolidated list of archival holdings has been produced.

The early records of the RVC have been generally well preserved, including transcripts of the foundation letters and The Veterinary College, London minute books, dating from 1790. There are some gaps in the records of the College during the nineteenth century, which may well turn up as the collection is further consolidated, The RVC's student records are particularly well preserved and are an extremely useful source for family historians. The RVC's own archive also includes seven volumes of correspondence (transcripts 1879-1909) of Richard Powys, College Secretary, which are too fragile to handle and therefore are not at present available to scholars. The collection also includes records of related organisations, namely: the London Veterinary Medical Society; the Veterinary Medical Association; The Royal Veterinary College Medical Association; records of the Beaumont Animals Hospital (day books and treatment registers 20th century); Hawkshead patient records and the Student Union.

The collection contains a large range of manuscript materials, including anatomical drawings and papers, of great historical interest to the development of veterinary science. Principal among these is The James Beart Simonds Collection (James Beart Simonds. 1810-1904. qualified RVC 1829, first Chief Inspector and Veterinary Adviser to the Privy Council, 1865-71; Principal of the RVC 1872-81), comprising 9 volumes of printed and MS material including correspondence relating to the veterinary profession and various classes of livestock disease, particularly cattle plague, pleuro-pneumonia and variola ovina; also some 43 bound volumes of heavily annotated printed material.

The records were inspected on 24 November 1992 at the invitation of the Librarian, Linda warden and Jane Kingsley, in charge of archives and historical collections, and we are most grateful to them for their hospitality and information.


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Summary report

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC)

Foundation papers
College foundation letters (MS transcripts) 1790-93 (1 volume)

Charters c1874-1979 (1 bundle)

Minutes of committees
The Veterinary College, London minute books 1790-1804 (2 volumes)

The Veterinary College. London minute books 1793-1851 (2 volumes)

Minutes and accounts 1790-1830 (10 volumes) including examination minutes, 1822-30

RVC minute books 1790-93, 1826-77, 1877 (2), 1922-31 (8 volumes)

RVC Council minutes 1948-75 (13 volumes)

RVC Council minutes index 1948-52 (1 volume)

General minute book 1936-52 (1 volume)

Governors' meetings minute books 1907, 1932 (2 volumes)

Court of governors minute book incl loose papers 1936 (1 volume)

Governors attendance book 1953-80 (1 volume)

Governors and subscribers election lists 1931-38 (1 volume)

RVC executive committee minute books, some with interleaved papers 1937, 1943, 1973-83 (5 volumes)

General purposes committee minutes 1890-1920, 1930, 1932-39 (4 volumes)

General purposes committee minutes 1899-?1906, 1921 (2 volumes)

RVC academic board minutes 1937-82 (10 volumes)

RVC academic board attendance book 1953-75 (1 volume)

RVC professorial staff committee minutes 1965-76, 1979-82, n.d. (4 volumes)

Minutes and accounts relating to buildings 1933-34 (1 volume)

Minutes of sub-committees incl staff with correspondence and papers interleaved 1886-98 (1 volume)

Index of minutes of committees 1936 (1 binder)

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Financial and property records
Stock account book (Bank of England) 1819-49 (1 volume)

RVC annual accounts 1904-26 (1 volume)

General accounts 1955-70 (1 volume)

RVC common seal books (i.e. investment list) 1947-70 (2 volumes)

RVC deposit account books ?20th century (1 bundle of 16 items)

Ledgers and cash books 19th-20th century (11 volumes)

Stack of unsorted ledgers/accounts books on floor of strongroom 19th-20th century (c20 volumes)

"Student Transfer Journal" incorporating accounts relating to College property at Hawkshead 1955-91 (1 volume)

Papers relating to buildings in Camden Town 1937 (1 bundle)

Report on the Camden Town premises 1940 (1 volume)

Specifications for works on the Camden Town premises n.d. (1 volume)

Legal papers relating to property (1 bundle)

Subscription ledger 1796 onwards (1 volume)

Superannuation records c1929 (1 file)

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General college records and correspondence
Richard Powys, RVC secretary: correspondence 1879-1909 (7 bound volumes of ms transcripts)

List of governors of the RVC 1840, 1848, ?1878 (3 items)

"RVC lists of veterinary surgeons", former RVC pupils only, 1794, 1798-1842 (1 volume)

Comments of professors on the curriculum 19th century

Miscellaneous letters 19th century

General correspondence incl students and patients/treatment 1933-35 (19 lever arch files)

Correspondence relating to students, patients, treatment and fundraising 20th century (2 drawers)

College records incl correspondence files relating to buildings, Beaumont Animals' Hospital and ministry of Agriculture 20th century (2 boxes)

General College records, correspondence and papers incl staff records and appointments 20th century (filed in c120 packets incl c100 numbered consecutively from 1 to 706)

Miscellaneous correspondence and staff records (12 files, 3 bundles)

"Staff Appointments (Chemistry)" 1934-37 (1 file)

"Appointments to Assistant Secretary" n.d. (1 bundle)

Deed boxes, inaccessible and contents unknown (2)

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Student records
Register of pupils 1794-1907, showing dates of qualifications as veterinary surgeons (1 volume)

Student entry books 1839-82, 1893-1930 (6 volumes)

"Matriculation Book", (1 volume containing two separate records): ppl-38; matriculation book with entrance examination dates of individuals 1870-73; p39ff; student entry book, with some previous occupations 1882-93.

Student lists 1891-1937 (1 file)

Student register, alphabetical index late 19th century (1 volume)

Lists of medals and prizes 1882-91, c1910-36 (2 volumes)

Register of medals presented to students in commemoration of College centenary 1891 (1 volume)

Examination minutes 1797-1813, 1819-21 (1 volume)

Matriculation and College reports (i.e. exam results of individuals) 1871-c1883 (1 volume with some interleaved papers)

Examination records 1791-1821, 1830-44, 1871-82, 1926-33 (4 volumes)

Bound volumes of students' lecture notes 19th-20th century (6 drawers)

"Twenty-five years of the RVC Theatre Group", lists of productions with cast members, 20th century (1 volume)

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Miscellaneous records
"Mansion House meeting" 1936 (1 file)

Clement-Stephenson Fund minutes 1919, 1932-36 (2 volumes)

Register of patients treated 1793-1809 (1 volume)

"Record of post-mortem examinations at the RVC for the Ministry of Agriculture" 1890-91 (1 volume)

Hawkshead, patient treatment records 1968-74 (4 volumes); patient record cards 1959-66 (7 drawers); (Streatley and Hawkshead) patient record cards 1950-66 (1 drawer)

Regulations 1875-77 (6 volumes)

"The Book of the Nosebag" (relating to fundraising), MSS illustrated with drawings and photographs 1934 (1 volume)

Visitors books c1946-74 (3 volumes)

MSS extract from notebook of 1834 signed W Morton: "A Day in the Veterinary College at Alfont near Paris" (transcribed 1989 by Frances Houston A.L.A. of the RVC, London)

Bicentenary scrolls (5)

Donations book (i.e. to VMA library) 19th century (1 volume)

Granville-Penn catalogue of original library 1791 (3 items)

MSS library catalogue n.d. (3 volumes)

Remedies recipe books c1803, 1836 (2 volumes)

"Lord Lewisham's receipts" (remedies) n.d. (1 volume)

MS of Report on Farcy by William Moorcroft 1811 (1 volume)

Final draft MS of Practical Treatment of Diseases of the Camel by William Gilchrist 1841 (1 volume)

Register of diseased horses (?record of military horses treated at RVC) 1819-80 (1 volume)

Certificates issued by RVC, RCVS, VMA etc, early 19th-early 20th century

Autograph collection relating to publication of The Veterinary Record, (? compiled by Margery Creswell) 19th-20th century (2 scrapbooks)

Scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings (? compiled by Sir Frederick Hobday) 20th century (11 volumes)

RVC "Standing Orders" (blank) (1 volume)

Memoranda book n.d. (1 volume)

Deed on parchment (? marriage settlement) 1871 (1 item)

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Visual and printed material
Photographs and drawings 19th-20th century (23 boxes)

Sorted MSS/printed/photographic material on general subjects incl buildings 19 th-20th century (39 boxes)

Photograph albums 19th-20th century (14 volumes)

Drawings and photographs incl individual scientists, student societies, sports and groups 19th-20th century

Architectural plans and drawings 19th-20th century

Architectural plans relating to buildings at Hawkshead and Boltons Park Farm (1 box)

Anatomical illustrations mostly 19th century

Framed photographs, certificates and drawings incl illustrated envelopes

Audio-visual collection: principally RVC promotional videos 20th century

Films (3 boxes of reels)

Students, posters relating to coursework; posters relating to student societies, proclamations and orders relating to epidemics, ephemera 19th-20th century

Royal Charter granted to RVC (printed) 1956 (1 volume)

Calendars, regulations and reports (printed) 19th-20th century (multiple volumes)

Reports of the quarterly meetings of the RVC Council (printed) 19th century

Annual reports (printed) 20th century (multiple volumes)

Newspaper cuttings

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Associated bodies

London Veterinary Medical Society (LVMS), succeeded by the Veterinary Medical Association (VMA) in 1836:
VMA council minute book 1866-84 (1 volume)

VMA general meetings minute book 1866-c1884 (1 volume)

VMA membership list 1836-c1864 (1 volume)

VMA essays c1866-88 (c7 items)

VMA "Communications" (printed with correspondence relating to formation, membership bound into volume) 1836-50; rules (printed annually) 1836-41 (1 volume)

LVMS and VMA origins and rules and library catalogue (printed with MSS interleaved) 1813-48 (1 volume)

VMA rules (printed) 1836 (2 sets), 1844 (3 copies)

VMA essays 1826-32, 1836-41, 1877-78 (10 volumes)

Donations book (i.e. to VMA library) 19th century (1 volume)

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The Royal Veterinary College Medical Association (RVCMA):
(? RVCMA) ordinary meetings summary minutes 1935-40 (1 volume)

RVCMA Streatley Division ordinary meetings minutes 1946-56 (1 volume)

RCVMA Field Station Sub-Division council minute book January 1936-January 1949 (1 volume)

RMMA Camden Town Division meetings minute book 1946-54 (1 volume)

(? RVCMA) essays (typed) c1942 (1 volume)

Research Institute in Animal Pathology:
Committee minutes 1932-36 (1 volume)

Committee minutes 1926-37 (1 volume)

RVC Student Union
Union Council minute books 1949-66 (3 volumes)

Executive committee minutes 1942-55 (1 volume)

General and divisional meetings minutes 1945-58 (2 volumes)

Main accounts book 1965-79 (1 volume)

Account book (Streatley Division) n.d. (1 volume)

Minutes and accounts for various sporting clubs visitors book "RVC Club" 1969-74 (1 volume)

General Student Union business papers 20th century (1 box of folders)

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Veterinary Students Association of GB and Eire
Executive committee minutes 1955-56 (1 volume)

Beaumont Animals' Hospital
Day books (treatment records) 1933-64 (c150 volumes)

Patient treatment records 1952-72 (7 volumes)

X-ray records 1955-59 (1 volume)

Patient record forms 1966-68 (2 packets of loose forms)

Accounts, supplies duplicate orders etc.

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS):
Charter of incorporation, petitions and correspondence (printed and ms) c1844 (2 volumes)

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Papers of individuals

The James Beart Simonds Collection:
Scrapbooks of MS and printed material (9 volumes); including the veterinary profession with autograph collection (1 volume), general veterinary and other matters (1 volume), variola ovina (1 volume), pleuro-pneumonia (1 volume) and cattle plague (5 volumes).

Miscellaneous papers i.e. posters and proclamations annotated printed and bound material (43 volumes)

Professor Ernest Cotchin:
MS and typed notes for his book, The Royal Veterinary College: a bicentenary history, 1990

Frederick Smith, veterinary historian:
Drafts, correspondence and notes incl MS draft of history of Napoleon 19th-20th century (7 boxes)

The AM Johnston Collection:
Correspondence, accounts etc, relating to rinderpest in Scotland 1865 (1 box) (permanent loan)

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