Wellcome Project

Special Collections recently discovered that the University of Glasgow possesses one of the strongest collections in the United Kingdom of printed works on syphilis before the early nineteenth century, containing many extremely rare medical treatises, sixteen of which are believed to be unique in Britain.

This excellent collection has flown under the radar until now due to its being poorly catalogued and dispersed throughout several collections, making it difficult for researchers to access this material. In terms of number, depth, and variety the collection ranges from the earliest syphilis incunabula at the end of the fifteenth century to dissertations and debates on whether syphilis and gonorrhoea were separate diseases—a debate in which Scottish surgeons, principally John Hunter and Benjamin Bell, took centre stage.

Recognising the significance of this collection in aiding research in the medical humanities, funding was obtained from the Wellcome Trust to have these ca. 250 items catalogued to international standards to aid academic researchers in discovering this material. As part of the project this web-based teaching resource was created and a one day event to promote this collection was held on the 27th January 2015.

The Wellcome Trust was founded in 1936 by Sir Henry Wellcome and has been committed to improving human health and driving research in science and the humanities ever since. You can find out more about the history of the Trust here.