Veterinary professionals now have access to a unique online veterinary history database spanning 160 years.

RCVS Knowledge has launched its new archive catalogue, containing detailed description of hundreds of historic documents, following a five-year archiving project.

Searchable archives

Frederick Smith
Major General Sir Frederick Smith, Calcutta, 1878.

The historic archive collections, which belong to the RCVS, consist of unpublished manuscripts, correspondence, clinical case notes and photographs illustrating the history of the British veterinary profession from 1800 to the present day. Descriptions of these materials have been catalogued to international archive standards and added to an online database at www.VHcatalogue.org by RCVS Knowledge archivist Lorna Cahill.

The catalogue will be fully searchable, with biographical profiles for major persons featured in the collections.

The papers of the prolific veterinary author and army veterinarian Major General Sir Frederick Smith (1857-1929) are among 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.

Unparalleled collection

RCVS Knowledge executive director Chris Gush said: “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.”

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.

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