Cowley, Dr Norman (b.1918)

  • Cowley, Dr Norman, JP, MBBS, MRCGP (b.1918), General Practitioner in South Shields
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The following is an interim description which may change when detailed cataloguing takes place in future:

Please note that this archive contains patient data that is highly sensitive in nature. When the archive is catalogued, the patient data will require closure for the lifetime of the data subjects in accordance with the 2018 Data Protection Act.

Diaires kept by Dr Norman Cowley as a GP in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, 1947-1979, recording his home visits notably obstetric visits including numerous home births. In the obstetric section, each diary usually contains patient (mother) data and data on new born babies; details of whether it was a normal birth, if there were any complications, miscarriages, if the mother was sent to hospital, breech births, premature births, etc. Notes of fees charged are also included.



Physical description

1 transfer box

Acquisition note

The papers were donated to the library at Wellcome Collection by Dr Cowley, 11 October 2011.

Biographical note

Norman Cowley trained in medicine 1937-1942, Durham University Medical School, qualifying MBBS 1942. In 1943 he enlisted as a Captain in the RAMC attached to the North 2nd Staffordshire Regiment. He was posted overseas and saw service in North Africa and Italy. He was wounded in the Anzio Landings, taken prisoner and shipped to Stalag VII A at Moosburg near Dachau where he worked in the camp hospital. He was repratriated in January 1945.

After undertaking two years as Assistant in a General Practice in Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland, 1945-1947, he bought his own practice in South Sheilds and remained there until his retirement in 1979.

During his career as a GP in South Shields Dr Cowley and his his co-practitioner Dr Jessel Josephs (who joined the practice in 1952) undertook a lot of midwifery work, dealing with approximately 300 confinements per year which were all home deliveries unless prior examination indicated possible problems with the birth. He delivered over 2000 babies and undertook a significant amount of research on maternity and child birth statistics (so far, it has not been possible to locate the results of his work, written up subsequently). Dr Cowley came to the conclusion that when there were no complications in general a home birth was better for both mother and child.

Other activities of Dr Cowley have included giving First Aid lectures for coal miners at Westoe Colliery in South Shields, involvement in the founding of the (Royal) College of General Practitioners in 1952, founding member of the Postgraduate Medical Centre in South Shields (now South Tyneside), Regional Medical Officer to the Council of British Shipping, locum posts in various parts of England. He officially retired from medical work in 1998 at the age of 80.

Terms of use

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Accession number

  • 1851