Skip to main content

RCSI publishes historical Annual Reports of Council spanning more than a century of healthcare education

To mark World Digital Preservation Day 2023, RCSI Library Heritage Collections has published its collection of digitised Annual Reports of RCSI Council spanning the years 1844-1961. Comprising 118 individual reports and almost 3000 pages in total, this is the latest release of digitised material from the RCSI College Archive. Each report is fully word searchable, and the collection can be accessed at the RCSI Digital Heritage Collections site here.  

A History of Healthcare Education

The Annual Reports of RCSI Council are a rich resource for the study of the development of healthcare education in Ireland and Britain and the regulation of the surgical and medical professions. They reflect broader areas of concern regarding healthcare education and practice in these isles and document RCSI’s interaction with other educational institutions and regulatory bodies on matters of professional importance. 
The Annual Reports also show the development of RCSI as an educational institution during the period 1844-1961 and chart its expansion from a surgical college catering to predominantly Irish and British students to a leading health sciences university attracting students from around the world. Reports document the routine administration of the College and highlight activities and achievements during this time. They are also a rich source of information for family history researchers, containing the names of many students, faculty, and fellows that passed through the doors of RCSI during this time. 

Today, the governing body of RCSI is its Council. Council is composed of 21 surgeons who are Fellows of the College – and two lay members – all of whom are elected by the College's Fellows and Members. This governance structure was instituted in 1844 under the terms of a Supplemental Royal Charter granted by Queen Victoria. This Charter abolished the previous governance structure of Censors and Assistants instituted in 1784 and mandated regular reporting to the Fellows of the College. The first Annual Report of Council was published in the same year and subsequent reports appeared in this same format until 1961.

Digital Preservation and Sustainable Development

World Digital Preservation Day is held on the first Thursday of every November. It aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the positive impact of digital preservation in society.
Digital preservation comprises a vast range of activities, processes, and strategies that will enable continued access to digital content for generations to come. Digital preservation ensures that this content will remain authentic, accessible, and usable in the face of challenges such as technological and organisational change. 

In RCSI Library Heritage Collections, we value digitisation as an important method of increasing access to collections and digital preservation as a means of safeguarding this material for future generations. Digital preservation is an indispensable component of sustainable development within the cultural heritage sector, and reflects the wider responsibilities of organisations to enhance the use of enabling ICT and digital technologies in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and, specifically, to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural national heritage (UN SDG Target 11.4).