Re-visitng the Papers of Sir Robert Muir, by Stephen France


Sir Robert Muir in army uniform (c.1914-18) GB 0248 DC 055/63

I have recently been repackaging the Papers of Sir Robert Muir, retro-converting the Word catalogue into Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and enhancing the descriptions to make them more user-friendly.  Initially I did not know much about Sir Robert Muir, but through working on the collection and through my own research I was able to acquire some knowledge about both his personal and professional life.  This then allowed me to add greater context to the catalogue entries.

Sir Robert Muir was born 5th July 1864 in Balfron, Stirlingshire and died on 30th March 1959 in Edinburgh.  He was a Scottish physician and pathologist who carried out pioneering and important work in immunology.  Much is written about his professional achievements, (see the University of Glasgow Story or Who’s Who) and there is further evidence of these within the collection.  For example, there are photographs from his time spent as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Medical Army Corps during World War 1, and a letter received from the then Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald regarding the award of a knighthood in 1934.

letter detail

GB 0248 DC 055/8


Robert Muir and his eldest sister Mrs Welsh GB 0248 DC/055/93

What is less well written about is his family and personal life.  His father, also called Robert Muir, was a minister for the United Presbyterian Church serving Allars Church in Hardwick, Scottish Borders.  His mother, Susan Cameron, was the daughter of a Dundee merchant.  He had four sisters in what proved to be a talented family.

Of his younger sisters Jessie became the first woman studying Classics at Edinburgh University; whereas Susan wrote short fictional stories, a number of which were published in contemporary newspapers such as the Glasgow Herald and The Weekly Scotsman.  His youngest sister, Anne, was famous as a painter in watercolours.  Examples of her work can be found here.

His eldest sister Elizabeth married D A Welsh, Professor of Pathology at Sydney University.  Sir Robert Muir went to Australia to visit her when he was in his nineties.

Away from the medical world he enjoyed sports, including fishing and spectator sports, and within the collection there are a number of photographs of a golfing party.


Golfing Party GB 0248 DC 055/81

The new enhanced catalogue will be going live in the near future.

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