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RCVS Knowledge is pleased to announce the launch of a fantastic new way to access their unique veterinary history collections. From 7th November 2016, the new Archive catalogue is available to view online, with detailed descriptions of hundreds of items from the last 150 years.

RCVS Knowledge holds the historic archive collections belonging to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons; these consist of unpublished manuscripts, correspondence, clinical case notes and photographs illustrating the history of the British veterinary profession from 1800 to the present day.

Following the appointment of a qualified archivist in October 2015, a five year project commenced to improve access and awareness of the wealth of material we hold. This begins with the creation of an online database with descriptions of material catalogued to international archive standards. The catalogue will be fully searchable with biographical profiles for major persons featured in the collections.

Search the Archive Catalogue at


The papers of the prolific veterinary author and army veterinarian Major General Sir Frederick Smith (1857-1929) are amongst the first collections to be fully catalogued and described online. The material covers the length of Smith’s career from case notes recording treatment of army horses in India in the 1880s to correspondence from the last 20 years of his life, in which he wrote a four volume history of veterinary literature. Smith was involved in the Army Veterinary Service during the Second Anglo-Boer War and the First World War, and his honest and candid accounts of the loss of horses by the Army illustrate fascinating aspects of veterinary, social and military history.

“The launch of the Archives catalogue covers a critical and fascinating time in the nation’s history, both for the advances in veterinary science and its role in marinating a functioning British military presence in the 19th century. Through this unparalleled collection, RCVS Knowledge can be an invaluable source of information for academic research and the general public.” Chris Gush, Executive Director, RCVS Knowledge

The RCVS Vet History project is ongoing, and further collections will be catalogued periodically over the next four years. Visitors are encouraged to check the catalogue regularly, and follow RCVS Knowledge’s social media channels for news and updates. 

The RCVS Vet History Project is supported by The ALBORADA Trust.

For more information, please contact: Lorna Cahill, Archivist, RCVS Knowledge

Tel: 020 7202 0771  Email:

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