The College library, thanks to a Wellcome Research Resources Grant, has a new Cataloguer.

Dr Colin McDowall is a recent PhD graduate from the University of Glasgow whose thesis subject was the British Chiefs of Staff Committee during the Phoney War. Dr McDowall has been working part-time as a library assistant in the College for the past five years while completing his PhD; he was involved in the ambitious project to digitise 19th Century books in 2016 led by the Wellcome Trust, and the 2017-2018 library project involving the relocation and re-shelving of journal and book collections to new onsite storage.

Colin will be working specifically to catalogue the articles and theses collected by Dr J. W. Ballantyne (1861-1923), a pioneering specialist in ante-natal care and fellow of the college. Born in Dalkeith, Dr Ballantyne was for 30 years Physician for Diseases of Children to the Cowgate Dispensary; Physician for Practical Obstetrics to the Western Dispensary; Assistant Physician to the Royal Maternity Hospital for 15 years, and a member of staff at the Edinburgh Extra-mural School of Medicine at Surgeons Hall. He was elected to the Fellowship of the College in 1888 and joined the library committee in 1914; in 1918 becoming convenor of that committee.

His publications on ‘Diseases of Infancy' was years ahead of his time in warning against the danger of tuberculous from milk. Between 1883 and 1901 he published five books, edited two volumes of the quarterly journal Teratologia, wrote 12 articles for medical dictionaries and encyclopaedias and contributed 215 papers to medical periodicals. The bound collection held in the College library consists of over 3000 items in 126 buckram volumes, and will be catalogued over the next 12 months.

Follow the progress of this project through the new heritage Instagram feed @RCPHeritage.

If you'd like to find out more about these, or any other items in our collections, you can email us at