Saturday, 29 November 2008

Ancestry launches partial Medical Registers collection online

Ancestry has launched a new UK Medical Registers Collection on its website at .

The General Medical Council was set up in 1858 to ensure health and safety practices, regulate the medical industry and maintain an official record of all approved physicians. Its Medical Registers from 1858-1950 contain details of every doctor approved during this period – more than 1.5 million names in all – including their name, address of practice, university of qualification and date of registration, providing a vital historical reference point for those researching British medical history or their own family history. It should be noted that Ancestry's collection is not complete, with registers appearing at four year intervals.

Prior to regulation, the reputation of British medicine had been blighted by ‘quackery’ - the malpractice of unqualified doctors and fraudsters. Medical ‘charlatans’ administered unproven, usually ineffective and sometimes dangerous medicines and treatments for personal financial gain, leaving the reputation of legitimate doctors in tatters. By vetting and making registration a professional requirement for all practising British doctors, these issues were resolved, and by legitimising it public confidence in the medical profession was restored. Consequently, the number of qualified doctors increased from 15,000 in 1859 to 35,000 in 1900. By 1950 there were over 150,000 registered GPs, physicians and surgeons.

* If you are interested in researching the medical history of your family or the history of those who worked within the medical professions, check out my 5 page cover feature article in this month's Family History Monthly (issue 164, December), where you will find out how to research physicians, apothecaries, nurses, St John Ambulance and St Andrew's Ambulance, how to find hospital records for patients, and much more!

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