This was a project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, to catalogue online Sir James Young Simpson’s pamphlet collection.


James Young Simpson (1811-1870) was Professor of Midwifery at the University of Edinburgh for more than 30 years; during that time, he discovered the anaesthetic properties of chloroform and pioneered its use. Simpson’s use of chloroform during childbirth was initially seen as controversial, but he persisted and was eventually recognised internationally for his contribution to medicine, making him one of the most famous men of his time.

The Sir James Young Simpson monograph and pamphlet collection was gifted to the College by Sir Alexander Russell Simpson in 1913. The College financed the cataloguing of the 1575 monographs in the collection and then used a Wellcome grant to add a further 3000 pamphlets.

The pamphlets are of particular interest as they contain a considerable number sent to Simpson by other leading practitioners of the time. In addition, many of the title pages contain either the author’s inscriptions or Simpson’s manuscript annotations. They provide a fascinating insight into nineteenth century anaesthetics, obstetrics and gynaecology.


  • The collection is now available via the library's online catalogue


Click here to access the College's library catalogue