You might know that I’m the academic supervisor of a London Arts and Humanities Partnership-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Royal College of Physicians. It began last year, and it is based both at the RCP and the IES. The topic is ‘Women’s Ownership of Medical Knowledge in Tudor and Stuart England, 1485-1714’, https://gtr.ukri.org/project/56173E46-2EB7-4A1D-855B-F5498A3620E9. With the support of the heritage supervisor at the RCP, the PhD candidate has initially consulted 4,000 items, roughly half of the total within her scope. Because women’s marks of provenance were systematically ignored during previous cataloguing drives, and are therefore uncatalogued, the PhD candidate will require access to the physical collections throughout the project.
The RCP pledged to support her project. However, it has now decided to explore the sale of its historical collection, through auction. In addition to objections that others have raised about the dissemination of English cultural heritage and the risk to the museum and archive’s accreditation by Arts Council England, a sale would impact upon the RCP’s commitment to support this taxpayer-funded research project.
An open letter of protest against the sale has been signed by nearly 500 members of the RCP, echoing concerns published in media including The Times and Apollo. If you also have concerns about the sale, please consider joining hundreds of non-members in protest at https://www.change.org/p/president-andrew-goddard-royal-college-of-physicians-stop-unethical-sale-of-rare-books-collection.
You likely have already received messages about this sale, and I apologise for adding another to your inbox—but please do share with anyone who might be interested.
With best wishes
Dr Elizabeth Savage FRHistS FSA
Senior Lecturer in Book History and Communications” (EXLIBRIS-L)