James Peters writes:
We have recently completed a project to catalogue our remaining unlisted medical archives; this was generously supported by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources in Medical History grant. One of the collections catalogued is the papers of the anatomist John Stopford.
John Stopford, Lord Stopford of Fallowfield (1888-1961), achieved distinction in many fields. He is now probably best remembered for his time as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, successfully steering the University through the financial stringencies of the 1930s into the post-1945 world of higher education expansion. Remarkably, between 1947 and 1953, he combined this office with the chairmanship of the Manchester Regional Hospital Board, where he played a key role in implementing the new National Health Service in Greater Manchester.
Before this, Stopford had won a reputation as a brilliant and precocious medical researcher. He was elected the University’s professor of anatomy at the tender age of thirty, and in 1927, when not yet forty, he was the first Manchester medical graduate to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his work on the human nervous system. Stopford’s research had focussed on the effects of damaged peripheral nervous systems, which he had encountered in wounded servicemen during and after the First World War.
Stopford shook up the study of anatomy at Manchester; he stressed its dynamic relationship with physiology and its relevance to practical surgery. Stopford was a highly effective teacher, and his approach carried great influence within the University’s Medical School.
Unfortunately, Stopford only left a small personal archive, which recorded his work. Perhaps the most interesting items are his student notebooks, dating from 1906 to 1911. These are meticulously kept, and beautifully illustrated (for a student’s notebook). We have included a couple of examples below.
These are an important record of how medicine was taught at the University of Manchester in what may be called the pre-Stopford era, and they complement similar archives from a later period in Special Collections, namely the Hudson-Watt Papers (also catalogued by the Wellcome project) and the medical elements of the Students Lecture Notes Collection. These provide invaluable, detailed information about how medicine has been taught to students since the early twentieth century.