Medicine in Wartime: Aberdeen's Medical Innovators

A fascinating exhibition looking at innovations in medicine made during wartime is currently on display at the University of Aberdeen's Sir Duncan Rice Library.

The paradox of medicine in wartime is that although it is conducted in the surgical theatre of war - an environment of devastation and death - it is in these abhorrent circumstances that advances in medical science can often take place.

The exhibition, which is on display at the library until March 18, 2018, tells the various stories of a small group of doctors, surgeons and nurses, associated with Aberdeen, who used medicine in wartime with courage and innovation. Their journals, letters and instruments illustrate a period in military medical history that was challenging and ripe for change.

Jen Shaw, Exhibition Officer at the University of Aberdeen, commented: “Medicine in Wartime: Aberdeen’s Medical Innovators is a fascinating insight into what life was like for those working in medicine during war times.

“It is hard to imagine just how horrific the conditions would have been, but this exhibition really provides a unique insight from those actually living and working in the direst of circumstances.”

The exhibit includes case notes of surgeon, Robert Wilson, who performed operations on injured servicemen before the availability of anaesthetic; and the first First Aid guide for soldiers, published posthumously, by Surgeon Major Peter Shepherd, highlighting the challenging medical conditions of conflicts in the early 1800s.

The exhibition also features a series of works on paper by the artist Julia Midgley, which document surgeons in training and service personnel working to recover from injuries sustained in more recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fascinating series of talks about the individuals featured in the exhibition including a guest talk by Julia Midgley about her project “Art, War and Surgery”. For more information and exhibition opening times, please see