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Bound medical lecture notes and certificates of Victor F. Usher

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-1886

Scope and Contents

Seventeen volumes of lectures notes by Victor Field Usher, a medical student at the University of Edinburgh in 1902-1907, who became the first physician to introduce Arsphenamine (the first effective treatment for syphilis, developed by Prof. Paul Ehrlich) to the UK. The fonds includes:

  1. Three volumes entitled Practice of Medicine - Gibson, Philip & Bruce containing notes and enclosed course handouts on a variety of medical subjects taught during Dr. R. W. Philips' Class of Practice of Medicine, and, supposedly, during classes taught by Dr. Gibson and Dr. Bruce. Undated
  2. Two volumes entitled Surgery - Caird, containing notes on surgery lectures given by Mr. Caird, 1906-1907
  3. One volume entitled Eyes - Mackay, Surgical Anatomy - Stiles, Operative Surgery - Chiene containing notes on lectures on eyes given by George Mackay, on surgical anatomy by H. Stiles, and on operative surgery by John Chiene, 1907
  4. One volume entitled Midwifery - Haultain, containing notes on lectures on 'midwifery' (obstetrics) by Dr Haultain, 1906-1907
  5. One notebook entitled Pathology, containing notes, enclosed handouts and sketches relating to classes of practical pathology given by Carnegie-Dickson, assistant pathologist to Professor Greenfield. Also contained loose pencil notes. Undated
  6. Eight smaller notebooks entitled Practice of Medicine containing notes on subjects such as medical jurisprudence and clinical medicine, 1903-1906

This fonds also includes Victor Usher's graduation certificate and final examination notice for his M.B Ch.B in 1907, as well as his medical registration certificate, dated 1908.


  • Creation: 1903-1908


Language of Materials

English and Latin (certificate)

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the repository in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Victor Field Usher was born in 1880, eldest son of Thomas Burman Usher and Mary Jane (née Field), of Seven Oaks Nelson. He was educated at Nelson College, New Zealand’s third earliest college. In 1902 he left New Zealand for Edinburgh University Medical School, and in October 1907 qualified M.B. Ch.B. with first class certificates throughout the course, especially in anatomy, pathology and surgical diseases in children. “Enthusiasm for learning with a scientific approach and kindly sympathetic attitude to patients” earned him top clinical positions with his University professors and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary consultants. During his studies, he was close friend with Douglas Guthrie and John Fraser.

After he graduated, he was appointed at Edinburgh Rotal Infirmary as House Surgeon to Prof. W. S. Greenfield and then Prof. Francis Caird, at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children as clinical and surgical assistant to Harold J. Styles, at the Deaconess Hospital as House Surgeon to Prof. Alexis Thompson, and at Leith Hospital as Senior Medical Officer of the Hospital, and House Physician to Dr. W. Elder.

In 1910 he took the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, specializing in operative surgery. His first surgical appointment was as senior House Officer under Mr McGavin at the Seaman’s Hospital, Greenwich, London, then known as the “Dreadnaught”, with responsibility for 40 general surgical beds as well as those for ear nose and throat. Many of his patients also had syphilis, and Victor Usher, with his inquiring mind, visited the laboratory of the German-Jewish scientist credited with finding a cure for syphilis, Paul Ehrlich, at the George Speyer Haus in Frankfurt am Main. Ehrlich asked Usher to introduce his drug 'Compound 606', which he had found to effectively combat the bacteria that caused syphilis, to Britain. After leaving the Seaman’s Hospital, Usher returned to the Royal Infirmary where he had free use of all venereal wards. In these two hospitals he treated over 300 syphilitics successfully without mishap. He presented his report to Ehrlich as an MD thesis, and after this he spent 6 months in the largest mining area doing midwifery, then an ear nose and throat house surgeonship back at the Royal Infirmary and, at the request of Edinburgh’s senior gynecologist, Mr. Carmichael, assisted with all private surgery at his own hospital.


2 linear metres

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated in September 2018. Accession no SC-Acc-2018-0156.


Victor Usher, The Treatment of Syphilis with Salvarsan (MD, University of Edinburgh, 1912). Digital copy available on request.

Processing Information

Catalogued in September 2018 by Aline Brodin.

Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379