Sydney Smith collection


Sydney Smith collection


This collection is made up of an assortment of weapons, identified as being material taken as evidence from crime scenes, particularly murder and suicide investigations. A number of these weapons have attached evidence labels which identify the cases they belong to previously owned by the forensic pathologist Sir Sydney Smith.

Sydney Smith studied a diverse range of subjects in his home country of New Zealand before embarking on a medical degree at the University of Edinburgh in 1908. Under the guidance of Sir Harvey Littlejohn, the Dean of Medicine, Smith took up a position in forensic medicine during which he assisted Littlejohn in a number of high profile murder cases whilst also being responsible for gaining samples of adipocere from bodies that had been submerged in water. Although Smith left Edinburgh in 1914, firstly to take up a position as a medical officer of health in New Zealand followed by the position of medico-legal expert in Egypt, complete with a lectureship at the University of Egypt in Cairo in 1917, Smith returned in 1928 as Chair of Forensic Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. In 1931 Smith became the Dean of Medicine, a position which he held until his retirement, and it is from this period following his return to Edinburgh that this collection of material appears to be most associated with.

Many of the objects in this collection were donated to the College by Harry Shute in 2016.

This collection was researched and catalogued by Rebecca Cessford, PhD student at the University of Hull, whose academic research is focused on a series of x-rays of tuberculous children from the early 20th century, looking at how these can be used as a diagnostic tool within the archaeology of human remains.

Items in the Sydney Smith collection Collection

Small reaping hook
Small metal hook with wooden handle. No label.

Large metal dibber
Large metal spike containing small hole in one end. No label.

Small homemade shiv
Small metal blade with wooden handle, possibly homemade. No label

Conical metal file
Conical metal file with wooden handle. No label.

Metal spatula
Spatula with rounded metal blade and wooden handle, paint evident on object. No label.

Flat metal file
Semi circular metal file, flat on one side curved on the other. No handle. No label

Small dagger
Dagger with metal blade and woven leather handle. No label.

Elliptical ball
Possibly resin, egg shaped object with a three way crack in one side. No label.

Round metal ball
Heavy, spheroid metal ball. No label.

Small palette knife
Short, rounded metal blade with wooden handle, paint evident on object. No label.