Friday, 24 February 2012

Blogging about Twitter, tweeting about our blog

LHSA has joined Twitter!

We’ve been talking about setting up an account for a while, and have been seeing how other archives use Twitter to let us know about their collections and services. There are also some great twitter feeds based on archival records, from the life of a West Lothian poor inspector (@PoorInspector) to the 1942 manoeuvring of the War Cabinet (@ukwarcabinet).

We’ve been inspired by these, and the recent successes of our blog, Facebook page and Flickr albums, to start tweeting too. We’ll be letting you know about our work, the material we hold and when there are new LHSA blog posts and Flickr albums to have a look at. We’ll be highlighting events we’re involved with and the work of our colleagues at the Centre for Research Collections, as well as re-tweeting anything of interest.

Please follow us at LothianHealthArchive, search for lhsaeul.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Workshops: introducing Archives and History of Medicine Research

This week the first of three workshops on ‘Archives in the History of Medicine’ took place at the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Library. These workshops are offered every year to undergraduate students by Dr Gayle Davis of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology alongside staff from LHSA. Focusing on the history of psychiatry, the sessions allow students to handle primary sources from within the Archive, focusing on the rich collection from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. They introduce important concepts for historians to consider when using archival material such as the viewpoint of the author, the audience for whom the record was intended, and the accuracy and reliability of the content.

On Wednesday, 14 students arrived to take part in the first workshop. As this is often the first time students may have used archival documents, Ruth, the Paper Conservator gave guidance on best practice in handling these unique items. Laura, the Assistant Archivist, introduced the types of records on show including administrative, staff and patient records, and some context to their creation. The students were asked to spend time in small groups studying one item each and report back to the group, engaging critically with how useful the record might be to historians. The answers were thoughtful and provoked some interesting discussion; we look forward to the next workshops which will look at the issues surrounding the use of patient case notes in historical research, and the relationship between psychiatric archives and the writing of history; looking at how and why certain types of records are kept, and how this influences the representation of history.

Dr Thomas Clouston, Physician Superintendent of the REH, 1873-1908. Students spent time looking at archival records from his tenure including annual reports written by him, and patient letters that he retained for use in teaching.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Two of Edinburgh’s hospitals remembered

This week our blog focuses on two of Edinburgh’s smaller hospitals: the Bruntsfield Hospital and the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital.

During the 19th century, the medical profession was a predominantly male dominated environment, however, changes were afoot. The Bruntsfield Hospital and Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital (EIMMH) were formed to meet the wishes of two Edinburgh pioneers of medicine, Sophia Jex-Blake and Elsie Inglis – to provide healthcare for women and to offer practical work experience for young women doctors.

Bruntsfield Hospital originated in the Edinburgh Provident Dispensary for Women and Children, which opened in Grove Street in 1878, and in 1899 Bruntsfield Lodge was acquired.

 Bruntsfield Hospital 

Elsie Inglis ran a Hospice in George Square from the 1890s, and the High Street from 1904, to provide obstetric care. In 1910 it merged with the Bruntsfield Hospital. The amalgamation of these two hospitals with similar aims saw medical, surgical and gynaecological work being done at Bruntsfield, with obstetric and infant work at the Hospice. They both retained their names and dispensaries, however.

During the First World War, Elsie Inglis set up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH) which sent units to France, Serbia, Russia, Corsica and Greece. Inglis herself died in 1917 and when the SWH were disbanded it was decided to use the funds to make a hospital as a memorial to her. The result was the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital (EIMMH), which opened in 1925 in Abbeyhill backing onto Holyrood Park.

Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital

With the formation of the NHS in 1948, both hospitals became part of the Edinburgh Southern Hospitals group. The EIMMH closed in 1988 and Bruntsfield Hospital in 1989, however, they are still both fondly recalled.

LHSA contains a wealth of records regarding the life spans of the two hospitals from committee minutes, publications and photographs to staff and patient records.

More of LHSA’s images of these hospitals are available on Flicker, and those of the EIMMH were recently featured by the popular Facebook group, Lost Edinburgh.

Friday, 3 February 2012

From the conservation studio...

Fiona, one of our conservation volunteers, has written our blog for this week.

Fiona started volunteering with us in October last year and has been trained by our paper conservator in various techniques to clean and repair collection items. In an arrangement with our Centre for Research Collections colleagues, Fiona has been working on an item from the University’s collection to widen her experience. Here Fiona talks about a fascinating volume from Special Collections that she has been conserving by using the skills she has developed with LHSA.

This is my first visit to the Archive of 2012, and my sixth visit overall. I am now beginning to recognise lots of faces and even remember some names!

I began the day, and the year, with a really interesting lesson in how to use the camera equipment more professionally, and photographed my project so that I can use the photographs for a portfolio of my work. It was so enjoyable getting some good shots, as I had taken some pictures before I began cleaning it which could definitely be described as ‘snaps’!

Detail showing damage to the binding

I then returned to surface cleaning my project - it is a fascinating piece of work! I am conserving the Fire Insurance Plans of Edinburgh from 1892 to 1960. It includes detailed and coloured plans of the most commercial parts of Edinburgh - George Street, the Bridges, Princes St etc. - including names and type of business, and these have been resurveyed and updated several times through the 70-odd years of use. It shows every little lane and all the levels of the buildings are labelled. It is just wonderful to work with (if a little grubby at first!).

Detail showing one of the plans and a large area of surface dirt (bottom middle)

I have now finished the surface cleaning, which is good as it had been gathering dust for a long time! I have learned how to look out for different areas such as layers of paper and coloured or written-on pieces of the object as they are much more delicate and need to be respected. The Fire Plans are now much more pleasant to handle. Next time, I will be learning how to repair tears and that will allow me to finish its treatment.