Medical Recording Service Foundation and Graves Medical Audiovisual Library

  • Medical Recording Service Foundation
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Files, catalogues and one minute book of the Medical Recording Services Foundation and Graves Medical Audiovisual Library, documenting its activities from 1957 to 1993. Also one file on the Medical Audiotape Slide Producers Association (MASPA) set up by the Graves in 1974.



Physical description

6 boxes


The collection falls into 4 series:

A. Files, 1957-1993

B. Tape-slide catalogues, 1971-1988

C. Minute book, 1970-1977

D. MASPA archives, 1979-1984

Acquisition note

Internal transfer on 01/02/2003 by Dr Michael Clark, Head of the Medical Film and Audio Collection.

Biographical note

The Graves Medical Audiovisual Library (formerly the Medical Recording Service Foundation) was a non-profit educational charity whose aims were to make available all kinds of audiovisual materials by hire and sale and also to encourage new developments in medical and paramedical education. The Library was started by husband and wife team Drs John and Valerie Graves in 1957 as an educational activity of the College of General Practitioners (from 1972 the Royal College of General Practitioners). It soon became the premier organisation supplying audiovisual materials for all the medical and paramedical professions in the U.K. Users became world wide and the range of topics covered all areas of healthcare education. Initially it was mainly associated with tape-slide programmes, but by the mid-1980s video programmes became a major medium and they included videotapes on a wide range of subjects in their lists.

The Graves' original aim was to promote a new method of medical teaching, using the tape recorder to communicate with the general practitioner, and ultimately to build up a medical recordings library. The service began in Winter 1957 with tapes sent to 27 listeners. It came under the remit of the Post-Graduate Education Committee of the College of General Practitioners and was supported by a grant from Smith, Kline & French Laboratories Ltd.

At first it was a very personal service to keep GPs who could not easily attend courses and lectures in touch with new developments and did most of the recording. In 1961 it became known as the Medical Recording Service and Sound Library (MRS). It grew rapidly and by the late-1960s the MRS made tapes for the College and other organisations; it also had reciprocal arrangements with other organisations making their own recordings and tapes. The MRS continued its own recordings but primarily functioned to administer the loan service, offering a wide range of teaching aids: cassette tapes, tape-slide packages, programmed slide sets, question-and-answer tapes and LP discs, covering many aspects of medicine. The service paid especial reference to self-instruction and small group teaching, with the emphasis on low cost, ready availability and ease of use with simple equipment. It also functioned as an advisory and co-ordinating service on audiovisual teaching and supported research into the effectiveness and use of such material.

In April 1969 it became the Medical Recording Service Foundation Board of the College of Practitioners (MRSF). All funds were transferred to the Board which managed them. The fund formed part of the assets of the College but was kept separate from other funds of the College and used only for audio-visual purposes. Both John and Valerie Graves were on the Foundation Board. The reasons behind this were financial and legal: to have its own spending powers and accounts, to clarify its financial position and keep its independence but stay within the College and keep the Ministry of Health happy that it was not going outside of the College remit. By then the grant from Smith Kline French had ceased (in 1968) and the service was receiving grants from a number of organisations, including the College and a large one from DHSS, and doing recording work for other people than the College.

By 1975 the MRSF had become a central clearing-house for all medical tape-slides in the UK, with an annual issuing rate of over 25,000. It's activities were far outside the scope of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), producing and providing material of general use to the whole NHS (post-graduate doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives, physiotherapists, health visitors, social workers, etc.) and colleges in the U.K. and abroad.

In 1976 the MRSF decided to sever links from the RCGP, setting up a new and independent company and charity, The Graves Medical Audiovisual Library (GMAL), to continue the work of the Service separate from the College. The fund was transferred from the RCGP to the new GMAL. The official name change took effect on 25th Oct 1977.

The service had originally been run from the Graves' home, Kitts Croft in Chelmsford, and had spread through the house and expanded into an annex built in their garden in 1972. In May 1978 the GMAL moved into new, bigger premises at Holly House, Chelmsford. The staff were all local and the Graves were the constant directing and driving force behind Library.

In 1980, John Graves, OBE, died and Valerie Graves, OBE, stayed on as Honorary Medical Director and Honorary Secretary. In Oct 1984 Richard Morton MSc, FRPS, was appointed Director of the GMAL becoming responsible for the overall direction of the Library and initiation and development of new projects (Valerie Graves continued as Honorary Director).

In 1986 the GMAL's separate London base at the Hospital Equipment Display Centre in Newman Street moved to the British Life Assurance Trust (BLAT) Centre for Health and Medical Education, at BMA House, Tavistock Square, London. There the latest programmes could be viewed.

To reflect its expanding sphere of activity in supplying all kinds of audiovisual materials for the medical and paramedical professions, in Dec 1990 the name 'Graves Educational Resources' was adopted.

In Apr 1993 Graves Educational Resources transferred its audiovisual distribution services to Concord Video and Film Council, based in Ipswich, from where the Graves medical audiovisual programmes are still available. The savings from winding up the base in Chelmsford were placed by the University of Wales College of Medicine in a special fund known as the Graves Educational Resources Development Fund, to be used to support pioneering work in computer based learning in medicine.

Related material

At Wellcome Collection: The National Medical Slide Bank, est. 1985 by GMAL Director Richard Morton. Contained approximately 11500 images by 1991. Transferred to the Wellcome Photo Library in 1993 and gradually integrated into the contemporary image collection of the Wellcome Trust Medical Photographic Library (subsequently Wellcome Images). The Medical Film and Video Collections of the Library include approximately 60 tape/slide programmes compiled by the Graves Medical Audiovisual Library. These are currently not available to researchers. Contact for further information.

Accruals note

Additional material (Acc.1420) was located in 2006 consisting of a Memorandum and Articles of Association of Graves Medical Audiovisual Library, 1977 and minutes of Graves Educational Resources AGM 1992. These items are currently marked as missing and cannot be located.

Ownership note

The archive was originally given by Valerie Graves to Dr Michael Clark of the Medical Film and Video Library of the Wellcome Trust in Jun 1993. Valerie Graves listed, in detail, the contents of each file.


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Accession number

  • 1134
  • 1420
  • 2478