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Historic Hospital Admission Records Project

Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow

Thomas Barr

MD, FRFPS (1846-1916)

Prior to the opening of the Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow the Board made their initial appointments of honorary medical officers to the medical and surgical staff in November 1882. Among them was aurist, Dr Thomas Barr, a Glasgow graduate who had studied under Professor Lister when the latter was making his major contribution to the development of antiseptic surgery1. Barr attained his MD from Glasgow in 1870, and after studying for a while at the Medical School in Vienna and practising for nine years, he decided to devote his energies to the practice of otology2.

In 1877 he was appointed dispensary surgeon for diseases of the ear at the Western Infirmary - an appointment he retained for the following 38 years. This appointment was followed, two years later, a lectureship in aural surgery at Anderson's College Medical School. He held many distinguished appointments throughout his career in Scotland, and in the United Kingdom more widely. As a writer he had an extensive list of publications, and was held in esteem. His Manual of Diseases of the Ear was so popular that it ran to four editions between 1884 and 1909. A particular interest of his was the relationship and interrelationship between ear infections and extension of the infection into the cranial cavity. Such problems were very serious at the time, decades before antibiotic therapy was available.

In 1895 Dr Barr was appointed lecturer in diseases of the ear at the University of Glasgow. He continued working at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children until 1914 when with the transfer of the Hospital from Scott Street to its new site on Yorkhill he resigned.

1 An aurist was a term used to denote a medical specialist who deals with disorders of the ear. They are now known as audiologists.

2 Otology is the branch of medicine concerned with the study of the structure, function and diseases of the ear.