McKenzie Oral History Collection
Dates of Creation 1984-1993
Name of Creator McKenzie, Peter (physician : 1914–1994)
Language of Material English
Physical Description 0.5 metres
Scope and Content
45 video-recorded interviews with doctors, nurses, professors and others associated with medical and university life in Glasgow, 1930s-70s. Interviews conducted 1984-93. The reminiscences refer to the whole span of the twentieth century. Transcripts of some interviews are available.
Administrative / Biographical History
Peter McKenzie was born at Alexandria in the Vale of Leven on 14 July 1914. He described his father as a "manufacturer's agent".
At the age of 18 Peter began his medical studies at Glasgow University. He obtained a grant from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. He graduated M.B., Ch.B. with commendation in 1938.
Between 1938 and 1946 he had a varied career in the hospitals of Glasgow, beginning as a Resident at the Royal Infirmary, serving as casualty surgeon at Knightswood and ultimately as Hall Tutorial Fellow at the Western Infirmary.
In 1946 Dr McKenzie was appointed Deputy Physician Superintendent at Belvidere Infectious Diseases Hospital in the East End of Glasgow. He was to spend thirty three years there. In the late 1940s he was appointed Physician Superintendent.
The greatest achievement of Dr McKenzie's professional career took the form of pioneering work with poliomyelitis patients, during the 1950s epidemic. The Belvidere ITU became a model for the whole of Britain.
Peter McKenzie was a man of many talents and many enthusiasms: philately; music; travel (especially in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland); and film.
One of his uncles was a professional photographer. From him Peter learned the techniques and technicalities of photography at an early age. His clinical photographs show that he put this talent to good use for teaching and lecturing. In 1949 he bought his first cine camera. This was used primarily to film family occasions and holidays. Later he adopted video technology, using first Betamax and then Video 8 before settling on the standard VHS format.
Following his retirement in 1979, Peter McKenzie developed several major retirement projects. One was an oral history of the Glasgow medical school and of Glasgow medicine generally.
Peter's interviewing technique was an unusual one. The interviewees were mostly people he had known for many years. Some were close friends. So the interview formed part of a highly sociable day visit to the McKenzies' home. The interviewee would arrive for morning coffee, then the video camera would be switched on and the interview would commence. After an hour or so there would be a break for lunch, often accompanied by a good wine. Then a further hour or thereabouts would be spent in front of the camera before afternoon tea.
Whilst the great majority of the interviewees are associated with the Glasgow School of Medicine, a few are not. The latter include Steve Chalmers, an ex-patient and famous football player.
Peter McKenzie died on 5 December 1994.
Primarily alphabetical by surname
Conditions Governing Access
Dr Peter McKenzie and Dr Mary McKenzie
Other Finding Aids
Alternative Form Available
Transcripts of some interviews are available
Fonds level description compiled by Alistair Tough, 4 June 2019
This material has been appraised in line with standard procedures
Tapes held by McKenzie family prior to transfer
HB6 Western Infirmary, Glasgow; HB14 Glasgow Royal Infirmary; HB63 Belvidere Hospital; HB92 Peter McKenzie
McKenzie, P Fevers, family and friends, Wellcome Unit for History of Medicine, University of Glasgow, 2000