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Our History

The History of the LMSS

-This is not an exhaustive archive, please do contact us if you know more! 

The LMSS was founded over 130 years ago!! It was originally called the "Liverpool Royal Infirmary School of Medicine Debating Society" (known as "MSDS" for short) in 1874.

M.S.D.S was formed by staff and students of the Liverpool Royal Infirmary School of Medicine in 1874. It arose at a crucial juncture in the history of medical education in Liverpool when large expansions were being made to the medical school. The first 30 years of M.S.D.S. saw a number of important changes, including the decline of the hospital-based apprenticeship system replaced in 1881 by a university-based education with formal lectures. Many events and traditions were created in the 19th century, which set the scene for many years to come - our society song, the annual mens dinner, and the mysterious and secretive Phoenix dining Club. Many of the staff involved with M.S.D.S. played an active role in medical education and Liverpool life – for example, the first staff president of M.S.D.S. Dr Richard Caton held the Chair of Physiology at the University and served as Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1907.

Topics of debate reflect the historical context of Liverpool at the end of the 19th Century. These included Joseph Lister’s germ theory, the medicinal benefits of corsets, mesmerism and blood-letting. The original society was a male only entity, and a recurring topic of debate was the role of women in medicine. The society finally decided to admit female medical students in 1905, and the first female doctor to graduate from Liverpool was Phoebe Powell in 1910. 

Pictured - LMSS Committee 1947/48

A further key development was the decision in 1906 to elect a student president for the society. The presence of women in the medical school arguably led to increased social opportunities, in addition to pre-existing events such as the Annual Dinner which first took place in 1854. The name change to Medical Students Society (M.S.S.) in 1943 reflects the fact that the society had roles beyond that of academic debating.

Pictured - LMSS Committee 1978/79