Interlude: The Haldane Commission (1910–13)

  • John Henderson
Part of the People and Ideas Series book series (PEOPL)


Lord Haldane’s giant enquiry looked into many aspects of the University of London, but concerned itself especially with the organization of medical education. Starling was probably its most loquacious witness. The Commission’s evidence, taken from about a hundred witnesses, fills hundreds of pages (Royal Commission Reports, 1913). Fortunately for us, it has a well-written summary.


Royal Commission General Medical Council Clinical Unit British MedicalJournal London Medical School 
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  1. Flexner A. (1866–1959) graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1884 and founded a boys’ school in Kentucky. He studied psychology at Harvard and then comparative education in Berlin. In 1908 he published The American College and, in 1909, Medical Education in the United States and Canada, books that had great influence, and led to Flexner being invited to give evidence to the Haldane Commission. A recent biography of Flexner (Iconoclast: Abraham Flexner and a Life in Learning by Thomas Neville Bonner, Johns Hopkins Press, 2002) describes how Flexner and Osier gave evidence to the Royal Commission, but makes no mention of Starling. Starling appears only once in the book (p. 184), where his name is misspelled.Google Scholar
  2. Little EG. Brit Med J, (Letter) May 31, 1170–1173, 1913. Little’s criticisms of Starling’s summary of the Haldane Commission.Google Scholar
  3. Royal Commission, 1913. Its members were: Lord Haldane, Lord Milner, Robert Romer, Robert L.Morant, L. Currie, W.S. McCormick, E.B. Sargent, Louise Creighton; John Kemp, H. Frank Heath (Secretaries). The summary is in volume XL of the Royal Commissions Reports (1913). The reports (there are four volumes that include, inter alia, the Haldane report) are in the library of the University of London in Senate House. The parts of the commission are distributed in 1910 (XXIII), 1911 (XX), 1912 (XXII) and this summary, in volume XL. (The strange order of these Roman numerals is correct.)Google Scholar
  4. Starling EH. We have seen an account of his radical lecture to UCL students (Chapter 3) in 1903, where many of these views first appeared in print.Google Scholar
  5. -. 1913a. The report of the Royal Commission in reference to medical teaching in London. Brit Med J, May 17, 1063–1066.Google Scholar
  6. .-. 1913b. The report of the Royal Commission in reference to medical teaching in London. Brit Med J, May 31, 1168–1172.Google Scholar

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© American Physiological Society 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Henderson

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