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Centre for the History of Evaluation in Health Care

“…combining the best of traditional libraries with increasing support for the use of electronic resources and discovery tools – not least in those areas of special collections and archives where Cardiff and Wales have particular claims to pre-eminence.”

The Background

The merger of the activities of the University of Wales College of Medicine (UWCM) and Cardiff University on August 1, 2004 created the largest higher education institution in Wales and offers improved access to the library and archive resources in the field of the history of medicine.

Developing the primary archival resources within the library services of the new University is seen as an area in which Cardiff University can excel and achieve international recognition.

The merged University's resources relating to the history of medicine include: the former UWCM’s institutional archives, chronicling the development of teaching and research in the field since 1931; the archives of the old University College chronicling medical education going back to the 1880s; the archives of several major figures in the development of the evaluative approach to healthcare and the Historical Book Collection, which consists of over 2000 items, dating from the 16th century onwards, including a number of notable first editions.

The University owns the Salisbury Library, an extensive collection of Welsh books dating from the 16th century, which also includes several early medical works. Similarly, its own institutional archives and the library’s academic archives contain a number of medically related sources.

The decision has been taken to concentrate resources and expertise on the acquisition and promotion of historical material in subjects and specialties reflecting unique areas of significance for Cardiff and the University.

Within this context, Cardiff’s part in the establishment of the modern movement of evaluative approaches to health care is of primary importance.

Why Cardiff?

Archie Cochrane, a seminal influence in the evolution of evaluation in health care, had connections with the city going back to 1948 with his appointment to the Medical Research Council’s Epidemiology Research Unit, and later at Llandough Hospital as Professor of Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases in the then Welsh National School of Medicine. The larger part of Archie Cochrane’s personal archive came into the custody of UWCM in the late 1990s.


Archie Cochrane with Miner and X-Ray
Archie Cochrane explaining progressive fibrosis to one of the miners at Ferndale Colliery during the first Rhondda Fach Survey.
(Picture: Crown copyright. From Archie Cochrane's autobiography "One Man's Medicine". Reproduced with permission of the Controller of HMSO and Queen's Printer for Scotland.)

Iain Chalmers developed Archie Cochrane’s ideas while an MRC Research Fellow at Cardiff in the 1970s, and with others went on to establish the Cochrane Collaboration in 1993.

It is particularly fitting, therefore, that Cardiff should seek recognition for developing world class scholarly resources for the history of evaluative approaches, one of the most influential international developments in health care during the last 60 years.

Sir Iain Chalmers
Sir Iain Chalmers



The Centre for the History of Evaluation in Health Care (CHEHC) is being developed by the University Library Services (ULS) , a component of the Directorate of Information Services, with the support of academics and other colleagues at the highest level.  CHEHC is committed to acquiring and making accessible the world’s principal collection of primary resources for scholars, researchers and others interested in the history of the development of the evaluative approach to health care.

Until recently the growing CHEHC collection was dispersed in several locations across the University but, along with the History of Medicine Book Collection, is now being brought together under the curatorship of the ULS’ Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) Unit.

This realignment will ensure that the history of medicine benefits from the supervision and support of a full time professional archivist and librarian plus other support staff and that the material will be housed, for the first time, in purpose-built accommodation.

What's Happened so Far?

The Cochrane Archive

Pending completion of the SCOLAR arrangements, the Cochrane Archive is housed in the University’s Archie Cochrane Library at Llandough Hospital. Stored in fireproof data cabinets the Archive’s photographs, personal items and professional papers provide a rich resource for research on Archie Cochrane’s life and career as well as the development of the evaluative approach to health care.  The Archive Catalogue contains over 180 entries and has evolved from files originally deposited at the Pneumoconiosis and Epidemiology Research Units in Cardiff.

Launched in December 2002, the Archie Cochrane web site signals the University’s public commitment to developing the CHEHC. As the web site is becomes more widely known it is generating  an increasing number of requests and enquiries. Based on the physical archive the site includes a summary of the Archive Catalogue with hyperlinks to the full catalogue listing, photographs, professional papers and personal memorabilia, a list of publications, pages devoted to Cochrane’s POW experiences and to his population studies in the Rhondda valleys which helped to establish epidemiology as a quantitative science.

The Archie Cochrane Archive


Archie Cochrane and Identity Card
Archie Cochrane and Identity Card


Sir Austin Bradford Hill (1897-1991)

Through the generosity of Professor Tony Johnson of Cambridge University, the CHEHC has acquired a small but rich archive of papers and audiotapes relating to the work of Sir Austin Bradford Hill (1897-1991). The listed material forms the nucleus of the Austin Bradford Hill web site which  also includes a biographical outline, photographs and a list of his publications.

The Sir Austin Bradford Hill web site

Recent Acquisitions

As part of a focussed action plan a number of relevant organizations and key individuals in the field have been identified and many have responded positively to the invitation to contribute to the creation of this unique concentration of archival material illustrating  the history of evaluation in health care.  The University is delighted to announce that papers, videotapes and other material have been either already donated or pledged to CHEHC by:

  • Peter Armitage, formerly Professor of Medical Statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he succeeded Sir Austin Bradford Hill, and subsequently of Oxford University:
  • Michael Burr, an epidemiologist who worked with Cochrane in the Epidemiology Research Unit;
  • Iain Chalmers, former Director of the first Cochrane Centre, and co- founder of the Cochrane Collaboration;
  • Peter Elwood, a former colleague of Archie Cochrane, who succeeded him as Director of the MRC Epidemiology Research Unit;
  • Walter Holland, formerly Professor of Clincial Epidemiology at St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School;
  • Miles Irving, first  Director of the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme;
  • Bill Miall, who worked on epidemiological aspects of blood pressure in a number of MRC Units;
  • Miranda Mugford, Professor of Health Economics at the Univeristy of East Anglia.

In a parallel development preliminary work has been carried out with a view to making available in digital format the archives of the Cochrane Collaboration.

The Future

In 2005 the first ever strategic review of Cardiff University Library Services identified the development of  CHEHC and other primary archival resources as a key academic initiative and an area of expertise in which the University can excel and become a world leader.  Developing the physical archives and ensuring their presence on the web confirms the commitment of the ULS to facilitating remote access to information resources. In addition, the establishment of the CHEHC contributes to the multidicsiplinary themes within the University.

In all these ways Cardiff’s key role in the origin and history of evaluation in health care is being promoted nationally and internationally for the first time.

Support for CHEHC

CHEHC is an exciting initiative, enthusiastically supported by Professor Stephen Tomlinson, Provost, Cardiff University. Professor Jonathan Osmond, Cardiff University School of History and Archaeology (SHARE) is a keen supporter of the Centre; SHARE offers a History of Medicine MA and incorporates history of medicine modules in a number of undergraduate courses; in addition, the School’s academic staff includes medical history specialists, one of whom is funded by the Wellcome Trust. Mrs Janet Peters, Cardiff University Librarian and Senior Assistant Director Information Services is ensuring that the CHEHC and associated history of medicine developments are fully aligned with with ULS’strategic objectives.  Mr Stephen Pritchard, Emeritus Librarian Cardiff University, who was instrumental in establishing the CHEHC, continues to contribute to the development of the Centre.


Professor Jonathan Osmond
Professor Jonathan Osmond


Cardiff University also hosts the all Wales History of Medicine Forum, attended by professional historians, clinicians, museum curators, archivists and librarians, all of whom share the conviction that strategies need to be formulated and implemented to ensure that medical archives and artefacts of historical importance are preserved and made available to researchers and others.

The continuing support, advice and assistance of  Iain Chalmers, and of colleagues in the UK Cochrane Centre and the international Cochrane Collaboration, together with that of Consultant Archivist Jon Newman, are gratefully acknowledged.

Contact information:

If you have any material you wish to donate to the CHEHC, to the Cochrane Archive, or to the Cardiff University archives, we should be delighted if you would contact:


Mr Peter Keelan

Position:Head of Special Collections and Archives
Telephone: 029 2087 5678Extension: Cathays Campus: 75678 / Heath Park Campus: 01798 75678