Our history

Founded in 1952 ago by a grassroots movement of passionate GPs, the College continues to be led by our Members, putting them at the heart of everything we do.

Our online and in-person exhibitions provide insights into a range of themes that explore women's past and current roles in general practice.

The brainchild of the Foundation Council in 1953 who recognised the importance of collecting and preserving the wide range of instruments and equipment used by GPs during the last two centuries.

We hold limited biographical data about members. We may be able to confirm membership or hold an early member obituary, but for most ancestors prior to 1952 you will have to ask other institutions.

The College Archives are the core of our organisational memory. As a researcher, you can use them to trace our history or the history of the discipline; our involvement in the initial training and professional development of GPs; our interests in research or our support for improvements in patient care.

What will I find in the archive collections?

The College has a fascinating history, from the struggles surrounding its foundation in 1952, and its attempts to establish general practice as a discipline through to its continuing efforts to support general practice in the NHS today.

We were initially responsible for the introduction of vocational training and continuing professional development in the field of general practice.  Our research interests are energetic and diverse, including early studies of childhood asthma, measles and major national morbidity surveys. The archives are also particularly strong in the history of the College's relationship with practitioners and institutions across the world.

Institutional records include:

  • minutes and correspondence of the Council, committees, AGMs, working parties and internal departments on subjects like policy, publications, quality and audit and members’ research interests.
  • membership and fellowship records, citations and awards, obituaries
  • the development of the MRCGP examinations, vocational training and CPD
  • the records of regional and international faculties and their activities and UK based research units

Personal Papers include:

  • the papers of eminent general practitioners who were involved in the establishment of the College, including founders Fraser Rose and Lord Hunt
  • the papers of researchers involved in general practice research, including William Pickles, Edgar Hope-Simpson and John Fry
  • papers relating to GPs interested in medical history, architecture and education

Special Collections include:

  • attempts to establish a representative body for general practice in the mid 19th century, the National Association of GPs, 1844
  • photographs of college events, buildings and members
  • audio-visual material of oral histories, college lectures and special events like the Iranian Embassy Siege in 1980
  • material about Prince’s Gate, our HQ for almost 50 years, which was also home to the Kennedy's, US ambassadors and banker J P Morgan
  • memoirs of GPs working across the UK and Ireland from the 1920s onwards

Access to the College Archives is by appointment only, Monday to Friday between 10am and 4.30pm.  To make an initial enquiry to the Archivist, please email: heritage@rcgp.org.uk

At the moment our catalogue is unavailable on this website.  We have uploaded some of our catalogue to the Archives Hub project.  You can choose to search descriptions relating only to our repository, or across a range of archives important to the UK academic and research communities, including some of  the other Royal Medical Colleges.

We will also be showcasing some of archival material online at our HistoryPin channel.  Themed exhibitions will be uploaded there periodically, and we welcome any comments or questions you have on our collections.

Our Archives Policy, linked below, sets out the way in which the archive is managed and developed by the Archivist, with input from the Heritage Committee.