Launch of RCVS Vet History - Digital Collections

6 March 2017

Following on from the release of the online Archive Catalogue last November, we are pleased to announce the launch of the next phase of the RCVS Vet History project – the Digital Collections.

Material that has already been described on the Catalogue can now be viewed and read on the affiliated Digital Collections site, free of charge, from anywhere in the world.

Over 150 items, including manuscripts, artworks and journals, from the RCVS historical collections are currently available to see in full, with more content being added frequently.

To explore the veterinary past online, visit

The Digital Collections website is an exciting new online resource, featuring high resolution digital images of highlights from the library and archive collections. This previously untapped source of fascinating documents and literature, providing unique insight into veterinary, scientific and military history, is now available for everyone to see.

Highlights include letters, photographs and notebooks from the collections of army veterinarian Major General Sir Frederick Smith (1857-1929) and beautiful watercolours of horse anatomy, behaviour and care, created by Edward Mayhew for his publications Illustrated Horse Doctor (1860) and Illustrated Horse Management (1864).

In addition to unique archive material, several early veterinary periodicals, books and pamphlets are available to view online. So far, pamphlets by Bracy Clark (dated 1838), the journals Farrier and Naturalist (1828-1830), and The Veterinarian (1828-1830) are on the site. Individual articles and authors are listed for each issue; helping researchers go directly to content they’re looking for. Further volumes of The Veterinarian will be added over time. These valuable collections brought together, illuminate the early days of the veterinary profession and the developments in practice and politics.

RCVS Knowledge commissioned digital consultants Digirati to customise the open-source Universal Viewer - an unparalleled deep-zoom user interface, which can be easily shared and embedded on sites across the web. Alongside the images, the project team have added detailed information for the material, linking it to related items not only across the Digital Collections website, but also one-click links between the digital images and the relevant library and archive catalogue records.

Digital Collections is not merely a static display for historical interest – but can become an active hub for interaction between veterinarians, historians and the general public. Users of the site are also encouraged to comment and suggest tags for images on the site, to forge further connections and help researchers discover more content.

The material currently available is the first wave of many exciting collections to follow. To hear about significant additions of new content follow us on Twitter or Facebook.