At Newcastle University and the surrounding city we have a wide range of resources available to support the study of medical humanities across disciplines.

Archives and Collections

Newcastle University's archives and collections:

Clarke (Edwin) Medical Collection

The Clarke (Edwin) Medical Collection is chiefly historical medical texts, numbering about 450 volumes, along with some archival material which was formerly owned by the neurologist and medical historian, Edwin Clarke (1919-1996). The collection usefully complements the Pybus and the Medical Collections.

Highlights include: An inquiry concerning the history of the cowpox: principally with a view to supersede and extinguish the smallpox (1798) by George Pearson, the well-known physician, chemist and early advocate of Jenner's cowpox vaccination; and the Report from the Committee appointed to examine the physicians who have attended His Majesty, during his illness: touching the present state of His Majesty's health (1789), issued by Parliament during the period of King George III's recurrent mental illness. The collection also contains some modern secondary texts on various aspects of the history of medicine.

Cowen Library

The School of History, Classics and Archaeology's Cowen Library is located in the Great North Museum: Hancock Library,  on the second floor. 

The library contains books and journals on archaeology and ancient history. Some material date from the 17th century to the current day. It has more than 10,000 books in stock, which include:

  • local, national and international archaeological reports
  • books on Hadrian’s Wall and Roman Britain
  • a large collection of the British Archaeological Reports series
  • books on Roman archaeology and Egyptology
  • books on the archaeology of the Mediterranean, especially Byzantine Empire
  • material on archaeological theory, practice and history

Additionally, the library includes the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, containing a wealth of archaeological and historical material. There's a strong emphasis on Hadrian’s Wall and Roman Britain. The library and archive of the Natural History Society of Northumbria are available.

Donaldson (Sir Liam) Archive

The Donaldson (Sir Liam) Archive comprises material relating to the 15th Chief Medical Officer for England and Chancellor of Newcastle University Sir Liam Donaldson (1949 - ).

Includes published and unpublished material covering Sir Liam's early professional career and achievements in health care management in the Northern and Yorkshire regions and as Chief Medical Officer. The majority of material relates to his time as Chief Medical Officer from 1998 - 2010, covering his major health and health care campaigns, including published reports and contextual material related to these reports. Also includes photographs, papers, correspondence and other material relating to Sir Liam's personal life, awards and honours.

Gibb (Charles) Archive

The Gibb (Charles) Archive is a small collection of papers relating to the early career of Dr. Charles John Gibb (1824-1916), a local doctor who worked at the Newcastle Infirmary before setting up private practice in the city. The papers include certificates of Dr. Gibb's attendance at the Newcastle School of Medicine and his Certificate of Admittance to the Royal College of Surgeons, as well as journals of his travels in Scotland and Europe in 1848 and photographs of the Gibb family home in Sandyford, Newcastle. Dr. Gibb was immortalised in the famous Blaydon Races song: “Sum went to the dispensary, an' uthers to Doctor Gibbs”.

Hatton Gallery Archive

The Hatton Gallery Archive contains material relating to the history of the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, from its foundation in 1926 up to 2010.

The major focus of the archive is the Gallery's exhibition history. It contains:

  •  Correspondence relating to exhibitions
  • Correspondence with artists
  • Leaflets and ephemera relating to exhibitions
  • Plans, notes and papers relating to exhibitions and installations
  • Photographs of the Gallery and exhibitions
  • Accounts, receipts and bills
  • Newspaper cuttings and articles
  • Miscellaneous papers and documents

A secondary focus of the Archive is its holdings relating to the Hatton Gallery's permanent collection of artworks. This consists of:

  • Correspondence relating to objects in the collection
  • Correspondence with artists, collectors, donors and specialists
  • Research notes relating to collection objects
  • Paperwork relating to object conservation
  • Notes and papers relating to exhibitions and installations of Gallery objects
  • Photographs of objects from the collection
  • Accounts, receipts and bills
  • Newspaper cuttings and articles
  • Miscellaneous papers and documents

The Archive further contains material relating to the Gallery's foundation, buildings, and administration.

Historic Anatomical Collection

An extensive collection of prosected material, potted specimens, articulated and disarticulated bones and anatomical models held within the School of Medical Education.

Hodgkin (Thomas) (Physician) Archive

The Hodgkin (Thomas) (Physician) Archive comprises some printed work by Thomas Hodgkin, letters to and from fellow physicians and a box of notes on medical cases, observations and various fragments. 

Thomas Hodgkin (b. 1798 – d. 1866) is a British physician from a Quaker family, who studied medicine in Paris and Edinburgh. In 1826 he was appointed lecturer in morbid anatomy and also acted as a museum curator at Guy’s Hospital. Thomas Hodgkin, Richard Bright and Thomas Addison, who were Hodgkin’s contemporaries, became known as ‘the three great men of Guy’s’. Thomas Hodgkin is known for the first account of the Hodgkin’s disease and his extensive contribution to modern pathology  based on his work on cataloguing specimens in the ‘Green Book’.

Hospital Archives of Newcastle Royal Infirmary

The Hospital Archives of Newcastle Royal Infirmary are an administrative collection containing statutes and rules, catalogues of medical libraries, early annual reports from the Newcastle Infirmary (founded in 1751) and of the Royal Victoria Infirmary (opened 1906), eighteenth and early nineteenth century reports relating to the Newcastle Dispensary (founded in 1777) and nineteenth century minutes from the meetings of local medical societies.

Medical Collection

This Medical Collection is a collection of over 2,000 volumes and hundreds of pamphlets, covering the history of medicine and a broad range of medical subjects. The collection is rich in seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century works.

It includes books from the medical library of noted South Shields doctor T.M. Winterbottom (1766-1859), and highlights include Erasmus Darwin's Zoonomia (1794), John Abercrombie's Pathological and Practical Researches on Diseases of the Brain and Spinal Cord (1828), considered to have been the first textbook on Neuropathology, and several works by the famed botanist, humanist and physician Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738).

The Pybus Archive

The Pybus Archive complements the Pybus Book Collection, and comprises the personal papers of Professor Pybus. The majority of the archive reflects Pybus' medical career, featuring certificates of qualifications, case notes, reprints of his publications and correspondence. Many of the records relating to his career are explicitly linked to his extensive research into the causes of cancer and its links to atmospheric pollution. 

The archive also contains documents which reflect Pybus' work in the Royal Army Medical Corps. During the First World War, Pybus was part of the team who recquisitioned Newcastle University's Armstrong College as the 1st Northern General Hospital. The collection includes records showing the treatments which took place in the hospital during the War. There are also documents relating to his short involvement with the 17th General Hospital in Alexandria.

It also contains a large amount of information on Pybus' book collecting activities, including the acquisition, identification and conservation of the volumes which comprise the internationally important Pybus Collection of rare medical texts. The records feature correspondence with sellers, collectors and specialists, receipts for purchases, and documents relating to the donation of the collection to Newcastle University Library in 1965. 

In addition to this, the archive includes minutes and memoranda of the Gateshead and District Hospital Management Committee and other hospital committees, as well as a variety of personal material including photographs and Pybus' academic gown.

The Pybus Collection

The Pybus Collection, originally brought together by the esteemed local medic and surgeon Professor Frederick Charles Pybus (1883-1975), is rich in material relating to the history of medicine. The collection consists chiefly of some 2000 volumes which are mostly classics of the history of medicine, with particular reference to anatomy, surgery and medical illustration. It is held in the Special Collections & Archives at the Philip Robinson Library.

The Shefton Collection

The Shefton Collection takes its name from its founder Professor Brian B. Shefton (1919 – 2012), a Classical archaeologist based in Newcastle from the mid-1950’s until his death in January 2012. This Collection moved from the University campus to the Great North Museum in 2009 and is now housed in the Shefton Gallery of Greek and Etruscan Archaeology. 

It is an internationally significant collection of nearly 1000 objects of Greek Art and Archaeology and is the most important collection of archaeological material from the Greek world in the North of England.

Williams (Ethel) Archive

The Williams (Ethel) Archive includes letters from contemporaries of Ethel Williams, a number of photographs of her throughout her life, objects connected to the suffrage movement, and selected information about Williams collected after her death. Ethel Williams was Newcastle’s first female doctor, and in 1906 became the first woman to found a general medical practice in the city. In 1917, Williams co-founded the Northern Women’s Hospital.

As a suffragist, she served as secretary of the Newcastle Women’s Liberal Association and became president of the Newcastle and District Women’s Suffrage Society (NUWSS). As a pacifist, she was a founding member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, of which she was a secretary of the Newcastle branch in 1934.

Workshops and Facilities

Newcastle University's available workshops and facilities:

Architecture Department Facilities

The Architecture Department's newly extended workshop incorporates digital fabrication and a wet fabrication lab for biotechnology work. These facilities include:

  • modelling and prototyping equipment
  • digital fabrication suite including 3D printers, laser cutters and digital routing
  • a robot arm
  • woodworking, metalworking, and hand tools 
  • bench space 

For biotechnology work, we have a novel wet fabrication space that is one of the first in the world in this discipline.

Fine Art Facilities

The Fine Art Department has excellent facilities and workshops to support a wide range of creative practice:

  • Wood & Ceramics Workshop
  • Metal Workshop
  • Printmaking Workshop
  • Digital Suite

Newcastle Material Culture Analytical Suite

Supported by the AHRC Capability for Collections fund and the UKRI World Class Laboratories fund, Newcastle Material Culture Analytical Suite (NeMCAS) facilitates the full process of research, analysis, recording, conservation and display of material culture and collections held across the north-east, accessible to the wider research community within the UK, Europe and beyond. NeMCAS is a partnership between Newcastle and the Great North Museum and will enable new and exciting collection based research and development of our heritage science capabilities.

NeMCAS welcomes enquiries from researchers and professionals about developing collaborative and commercial projects using the NeMCAS facilities. For PhD and postdoctoral projects, NeMCAS advise getting in touch with your potential supervisor(s) in the first instance. If you are unsure who to contact please get in touch with the lab director Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito - see contact page for details.

At the GNM, facilities include Bookeye A2 scanner for archival and document scanning along with a Leica DM750 routine microscope to enable on-site assessment of objects prior to more advances analyses in the campus laboratories. The campus based facilities are located in the research microscope room KGVI 2.61. Sample preparation facilities for a wide range of materials include soils, sediments, ceramics, glass and more are available in the adjacent Earthslides laboratories KGVI B.37-39. The two sites are located within 5 minutes walk of each other.

Wolfson Archaeology Laboratory

The Wolfson Archaeology Laboratory is a research and teaching laboratory and where the School of History, Classics and Archaeology conduct most of their laboratory and analytical training.  It is also an active research lab and hosts collections from various sites in the UK, including: 

  • an animal bones reference collection
  • a thin section and microfossil slide collection
  • Roman pottery collections
  • post-Medieval metalwork and ceramics collections

Specialist equipment includes  

  • facilities for soil, pollen, phytolith and other microfossil sample preparation 
  • facilities for use-wear analysis of bone, stone, metal and glass objects 
  • furnaces for research into material culture, archaeo-materials and ancient technologies through experimental archaeology. 

The Wolfson Archaeology Laboratory is in the King George VI building, room 2.60. You can book it through the University booking system.

Resources in the City

Resources available around the City of Newcastle upon Tyne:

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art creates and produces exhibitions, activities and opportunities that explore understanding of the world through diverse contemporary art by artists from across the world.

BALTIC Library is an informal research space that houses a specialist collection of over 13,000 books on contemporary art and visual culture. You can search and browse the online catalogue at

BALTIC Archive chronicles BALTIC's history through physical items and digital documentation. Online and open by appointment. BALTIC Archive contains a wide range of material related to BALTIC's history, charting the building’s original use between 1950-1980 as part of the Rank Hovis flour mills complex, through to the design and conversion process of the 1990s to transform the disused silo building into a contemporary art gallery which opened in 2002.

Museums Northumberland

Museums Northumberland encapsulates four Museums: 

  • Berwick Museum and Art Gallery is housed in England’s first Barracks
  • Hexham Old Gaol is the earliest purpose-built prison in England
  • Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum is situated in a Medieval building
  • Woodhorn Museum is located in a scheduled ancient monument

The Collections contain over 25,000 objects, held across all four museums. The Collections include Archaeology, Architecture, Costume and Textiles, Technology and Industry, Fine Art, Decorative Arts, Library and Photographs, Musical Instruments, Social History and Natural History.

Side Gallery: AmberSide Collection

Amber came together as a film & photography collective in 1968. The work has focused on documenting working class and marginalised lives and landscapes in North East England, but in 1977 opened Side Gallery, which is committed to celebrating the best in the wider tradition of humanist documentary photography.

The AmberSide Collection grows out of the work we produce, support and collect: Over 20,000 photographs, 100 films, 10,000 slides; a unique network of 400 stories. In 2011 Amber’s films and collective member Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s photographs were inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World register as ‘of outstanding national value and importance to the United Kingdom‘.

The Collection holds Landscapes & lives of NE England, classic & contemporary documentary: a unique film & photographic collection growing from the work we’ve continued to produce, commission & collect since 1968. Photographic exhibitions, videos, clips, trailers and each month’s Featured Film are free.

The Lit & Phil

The Lit & Phil is Newcastle’s exquisite independent library, open to all and free to explore and browse.  Founded in 1793, its purpose-built library opened in 1825 on Westgate Road, and is just yards from Central Station. It became a hub of learning and enlightenment long before the city’s universities existed and today continues to inspire minds, stimulate imaginations and confer a wealth of knowledge to young and old alike.

It houses a collection of more than 170,000 books (from 16th century tomes to modern fiction), the largest music collection in the North of England and a dazzling events programme packed with jazz, folk and classical music, celebrity author evenings, theatre and storytelling, poetry reading and classes covering everything from bookbinding to Latin, fine art to creative writing. 

Before The Lit & Phil officially opened its handsome neoclassical home in 1825, the Society had been meeting since 1793 in various locations around Newcastle. Initially a place where people would meet to discuss and debate the matters of the day, the collection of books grew and artefacts and curiosities gathered.  By the early 19th century it had become a home for inventors, pioneers and visionaries and a focal point for the industrial revolution.  George Stephenson demonstrated his ‘miners safety lamp’ to the Society in 1815 before it went global and Joseph Swan lit a public room with electric light for the first time here in 1881.

Over the years the Lit & Phil has welcomed many great literary figures including Oscar Wilde, E.M. Forster and Gertrude Bell. Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant was a school boy member and recent visitors and patrons include Melvyn Bragg, Val McDermid, Ann Cleeves, David Almond, Alexander McCall Smith, Derek Jacobi and Michael Palin.

The Mining Institute

The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers is located in Neville Hall, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE. What lies within the walls is centuries of history relating to the Great North Coalfield, full of tales of engineering excellence, man’s efforts to wrest resources from the earth’s crust and the perils that brought. The Library is of importance globally, the finest and largest coal mining library in the world and perhaps the best place to study the early Industrial Revolution which began with the use of coal as a fuel in the Great Northern Coalfield 600 years ago.

The Institute amassed a vast collection of notebooks, letters, maps, plans, drawings and later books and reports over 150 years related to every conceivable aspect of mining and the movement of coal to market. Its Members fanned out across the world to develop new coalfields and other types of ore and developed railways to carry the bulky products to market. As a consequence, the Institute has a vast collection that covers iron ore, gold and silver mines, indeed almost every type of metaliferous mining, in places all around the world. It also has a large collection about early and later railway developments which has been grown by adding collections from partner organisations. The early mining engineers were also great geologists, indeed, mining engineers and surveyors founded the science of geology and contributed to its understanding and development. The Institute has a vast collection of geology related maps books and reports.

The Institute’s resources and collections cover maps, plans, photographs as well as books, reports, notebooks, letterbooks and so on. More about the collections can be found here.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums' venues have vast collections of archives, art, archaeology, military and social history, maritime history, science and technology, natural sciences and ethnography. Some of their collections – the art, natural science, archives and science and industry – have been awarded Designated status by the DCMS in recognition of their national importance.


 Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort

Public Archives

Tyne & Wear Archives hold documents relating to Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland, dating from the 12th to the 21st centuries.

The collection includes:

  • Local authority records such as minutes, building plans and school records
  • Hospital records
  • Photographs
  • Magistrates and other court records
  • Business records, especially those of important local industries such as shipbuilding, engineering and mining.
  • Church records including registers of baptisms, marriages and burials
  • Records of local organisations of all sizes
  • Private papers of individuals and families from all walks of life.


The archaeology collection is based around finds and archives from excavations taking place at Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort and Segedunum Roman Fort from the 19th century right up to the present day.

We also hold finds from modern archaeological fieldwork that has been carried out within the Tyne and Wear region, a large prehistoric collection from Wearside and archaeological material from elsewhere in Britain, Ireland, Europe and Egypt.

Highlights of the Archaeology collection include:

  • A rare pattern-welded sword and the only complete Roman ring-mail suit in the country, both found at Arbeia Roman Fort
  • An unusual portable lead shrine and three complete bronze cooking pots deliberately hidden in one of the barracks, found at Segedunum Roman Fort
  • A preserved loaf of bread from Ancient Egypt.


TWAM's Fine art collection of oil paintings, watercolours and drawings, prints and sculpture ranges in date from the 15th century to the present day. It is particularly strong in British paintings from 1800 to 1950, and includes work by Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, and Stanley Spencer. The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle is also home to one of the world's most important collections of artwork by 19th century artist John Martin and a selection of his paintings can often be seen on show in the Laing's 18th and 19th century gallery.

There is also an important collection of 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish works, and continental paintings include masterpieces by Tintoretto and Gauguin (Tintoretto's Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet (1548-9) can be seen at the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead).

The collection of watercolours are of international significance, and the extensive print collection includes work by Thomas Bewick.

The wide-ranging decorative art collections are mainly 18th to early 20th century in date. Key areas are glass, silver and ceramics, focusing on works made in the North East. These include 18th century Beilby glass, the 1824 Londonderry Glass Service, pottery produced on Tyneside and Wearside and a collection of Newcastle silver. Non-European collections include Chinese and Japanese ceramics, metalwork and lacquer.


The ethnography collections at the Great North Museum: Hancock include material from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and America. The ethnography collections are concerned with human cultures and help us to understand different societies through the things they have made and used. Items from the Pacific are particularly well represented in the Great North Museum’s collections and include a decorated Maori paddle, from New Zealand, that was collected on Captain Cook’s first voyage around the world.

Maritime History

The maritime collection reflects the pre-eminent role of the North East shipbuilding industry from 1800 -1980 and includes Turbinia, the world's first turbine-powered vessel. There is also an internationally significant collection of more than 500 models of ships built in famous Tyneside and Sunderland shipyards.

Science and Industry

The science and industry collection celebrates the region's vibrant history of innovation, enterprise and achievement and includes several world 'firsts'. For example, the invention of the light bulb by Joseph Swan is marked at Discovery Museum by a collection of historic electric lamps. There are also examples of the steam turbine, pioneered on Tyneside by Charles Parsons for electricity generation, and of the Doxford marine diesel engine, developed on Wearside and used for ship propulsion worldwide.

Costume and Textiles

Costume and textiles covers adult and children's wear, accessories and textiles, mainly from the locality from the 4th century AD to the present day.

Social History

The social history collection represents life in Tyne and Wear from the 17th century to the present. It focuses on communities, personal and family life, popular culture, and work.

Contemporary Collecting

We collect objects from the present as well as the past including clothing, technology, toys, retail equipment and household goods. Modern objects capture the history of today for future generations and preserve it for the future so that people can understand what life was like in the 21st century.

Natural Science

TWAM's largest natural science collection can be found at the Great North Museum: Hancock and is owned by the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

It includes most groups of animals, plants, rocks, fossils and minerals, mainly from the British Isles but also from all over the world. Some of the more important collections include rare fossil amphibians and plants from the coal measures of Northumberland collected by Thomas Atthey and William Hutton, African mammals collected by Abel Chapman, pressed plants (some from the late 18th century), huge bird and birds' eggs collections, beautiful sea slugs collected by Albany Hancock and Joshua Alder, and a large collection of tiny sea creatures collected by George Brady, many from the famous round-the-world Challenger expedition of 1872-1876.

Many items from the Great North Museum: Hancock collection are housed in the Resource Centre in Discovery Museum.

There are over 600,000 specimens in the natural science collections managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. They are Designated as nationally important and are amongst some of the finest collections of their kind in the UK.