Main NHS Scotland University Archives

Excellent resources on the development of the NHS by main regions in Scotland and hospital records:

Lothian Health Services Archive

Lothian Health Services Archive- NHS History Online Exhibition

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives

NHS Grampian Archives

Dundee Archives


Royal College of Nursing - UK-wide archive based in Edinburgh, this is the principal resource for the history of nursing.

Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland - Excellent resource about district nurses/midwives across Scotland including interviews with retired Queen’s Nurses, and their modern counterparts when the title was revived in 2017. 

Clinical Biochemistry in Scotland - Remarkably comprehensive online history by Elliott Simpson, clinical biochemist.

Medical social workers - A review of the development of Scottish Medical Social Workers and Social Medicine, 1940–1975.

The three medical and surgical colleges have unique collections stretching back four centuries as well as blogs and online materials relating to the NHS: 

Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

UK Sources

People’s History of the NHS - Warwick University based project capturing people’s stories and experiences of the NHS over the years.

 Geoffrey Rivett's - Comprehensive and updated online history of the NHS.

Wellcome Witness Seminars  - Medical advances recalled by those who made them.

Film and Photographic Sites 

SCRAN - A charitable online learning resource base with over 500,000 images and multimedia files from museums, galleries, archives and the media. Free personal access to most library card holders.

National Library of Scotland - Moving Image Archive - Get a real flavour of times past with Scotland’s national moving image collection. Watch more than 2000 films and clips of Scotland online.

Wellcome Images - Vast collection including posters and other NHS memorabilia.

Your Health Service: How it will work in Scotland


The National Health Service in Scotland, Origins and Ideals, 1900-1950, Morrice McCrae, Tuckwell Press, 2003

Selected quotations from AL Rennie, John Forfar, Ronald Fraser, and Mark Fraser used on this site are drawn from a valuable series interviews with clinicians and civil servants involved in the setting up of the NHS.

Scotland’s Health 1919 – 1948, Jacqueline Jenkinson, Peter Lang, Bern, 2002

Scotland’s Health, 1919-1948, offers a professional historian’s perspective, drawing on a wide range of primary sources.

The Healers: A History of Medicine in Scotland, David Hamilton, Mercat Press, reprinted 2003

The Healers, a History of Medicine in Scotland gives a concise account of the NHS and its development.  David Hamilton has also contributed two chapters to:

Improving the Common Weal, Aspects of Scottish Health Services 1900-1984

Gordon McLachlan (ed) Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust, 1987 This volume of essays was the first work to cover the distinct nature of the development of health care in Scotland over the last century. It was the brainchild of Chief Medical Officer Sir John Brotherston who died before it was completed. 

Scotland’s Health and Health Services, Kevin Woods and David Carter (eds), Nuffield Trust, 2003

This important study examines the changing nature of Scottish health policy and health services management from 1984 to 2003.

The Citadel, AJ Cronin

The Citadel is available in several editions and was originally published by Victor Gollancz in 1937. Cronin’s Adventures in Two Worlds (Gollancz, 1952) is described as an autobiography but must be read with caution. He switches from fact to fiction throughout the book.  

The Scottish Secretaries, David Torrance, Birlinn 2006

The Scottish Secretaries covers the political history and the various personalities behind it. 

The Scottish Office, Depression and Reconstruction, 1919-1959, Scottish History Society, 1992, Ian Levitt (editor) 

A detailed narrative which also includes useful primary source material.

Educating Nurses in Scotland, A History of Innovation and Change 1950-2000 (Hypatia Trust with RCN Archives, Penzance 2004), Rosemary Weir

A review of nursing developments in the 20th century.

Other Sources Consulted for Our NHS Scotland Website Content

Sir John Crofton’s quotations are taken from The NHS Revolution: Before and After, A Personal View,  in Proceedings of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 1998: 28: 576-584.

For material on Gullane and the Miners’ Convalescent Home the primary source material is referenced HH101/508 in the National Archives of Scotland. Details on Sir John Fraser and Sir Harold Stiles can be found in: 

 The Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children 1860-1960

Douglas Guthrie

(E and S Livingstone 1960)and

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 1929-1979

EF Catford

(Scottish Academic Press, 1984)



The National Health Service in Scotland 1947-74: Scottish or British? Historical Research vol 76, no 193, 2003

John Stewart

Hospitals, Regions, and Central Authority: Issues in Scottish Hospital Planning, 1947-1974 in The Practice of Reform in Health, Medicine and Science, 1500-2000 (M Pelling and S Mandelbrote eds, Ashgate, 2006)

John Stewart

American Jewish Medical Students in Scotland, 1925-40, is in DA Dow (ed) The Influence of Scottish Medicine (Parthenon, Carnforth, 1988)

Kenneth Collins