Friday, 13 April 2018

Welcome to Louise!

This week, we have welcomed our new Access Officer, Louise Neilson, to the LHSA team. She'll be answering quite a few of the hundreds of enquiries we get each year about our material and helping more people access health archives in new ways. It's been great having Louise in the office these past few days, and, as you'll hear below, she's certainly been busy...

My name is Louise Neilson and I am currently enjoying my first week here in my role as Access Officer at Lothian Health Services Archive.
I was born in raised in the town of Kirkintilloch, which lies 8 miles north of Glasgow. I decided not to stray too far from home and studied my undergraduate degree in History at the University of Glasgow. My passion for archives began a decade ago when I gained some voluntary experience at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The contrast of the beautiful interior of the St Vincent Street townhouse combined with the macabre nature of the material in the collection had me hooked. I never would have guessed that learning about wet cupping would dictate my career path, but from that point on I knew what that working with archives was what I wanted to do. After that, I gained as much experience as I could in a range of archival institutions from the Glasgow Women’s Library to the Manchester Central Library. In 2013, I began my formal training and completed an MSc in Information Management and Preservation at the University of Glasgow. I then began an internship at the archive of Harper Collins Publishers before joining full time as an Archives Assistant to help prepare for their global bicentenary celebrations in 2017. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to catalogue the collections of some of the world’s most celebrated authors: most notably the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie.

Since arriving here at LHSA, I have been trying to absorb a mountain of information while simultaneously trying my best not to get lost or set off alarms. The extent of the resources available here at the Centre for Research Collections is staggering and I cannot wait to get to know the team and their roles a little better. I have been introduced to the LHSA collection and I already have a long list of items I want to pore over in time. I was particularly drawn to the patient case notes from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The case books date from 1840-1932 and the detailed notes that can sometimes include patient photographs help connect you to the personal and human element of medical records. Many of the stories are tinged with tragedy. The depth of information covers details such as marital status, religion, habits, historical health issues, and disposition as well as documenting patients' perceived mental and physical health during their admission.

 
Case Book from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (LHB7/51/68)

I have been overwhelmed by the level of support that I have received from both LHSA and the CRC staff since arriving timidly on Monday, and I am excited to learn more about how my role can help provide access to the fantastic collections and resources on offer here.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Archive to Z!

This week, Archivist Louise has been joining the twenty-first century with a spot of tweeting!

The next couple of years will be busy ones for archive professionals in Scotland. Our national professional association, the Archives and Records Association, is holding its conference in Glasgow later this year, and in 2019 Edinburgh will welcome archive professionals from across the globe when the International Council on Archives arrive for their annual gathering.

To count down to a jam-packed programme at the ARA conference in Glasgow, our local archives group, ARA Scotland, asked local archives to join a campaign on Twitter, highlighting a different item from their collections each week in an archive A to Z. Social media is becoming more and more important in the heritage sector in reaching new and more diverse audiences, helps get rid of our unfair 'dusty old books' image and can be a quick way to tell lots of people about collections and events. So I took the bull by the horns and compiled an introduction to LHSA in 26 letters. We've got to 'C' so far, and to whet your appetite for the weeks to come, here are the images from the LHSA collections shared on Twitter...

A is definitely for animals. Well, for me at least. I'll never miss a chance to share a picture of a puppy or a kitten. Although hospitals are very much about treating people, staff often kept pets (as seen in the dogs and cats so often featured in pictures of Royal Infirmary residents) and we also have pictures of animals kept in war hospitals, a comfort to patients and staff in a harrowing time:

A cairn terrier (I think!) with an injured First World War soldier at Edenhall Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers, LHB54/4/1
For the Twitter project, though, I chose this postcard from physician Alexander Murray Drennan:

Postcard from collection of Alexander Murray Drennan, c. 1900s, GD9/9
 Eventual Chair of Pathology at the University of Edinburgh, Drennan pioneered the use of boric acid and bleaching powder in the treatment of wounds in the First World War. We have a sizeable personal and medical collection from him, fascinating in some of its detail and connections. If you want to find out more about Drennan, our former Access Officer, Alice, wrote a fascinating blog about him here. For me, the postcard also shows the accidental pieces of pop culture that are so often preserved in archives - part of what makes delving into personal collections like this such a surprise.

B is for Bangour. I use the collection of the West Lothian psychiatric institution, Bangour Village Hospital, quite a bit in research that I do for genealogy enquiries. Due to the rich nature of 'asylum' records that we preserve, the records are understandably popular with academic researchers and genealogy researchers alike. However, the hospital was taken over in both world wars by the military, when it became Edinburgh War Hospital, and the psychiatric patients transferred to other institutions. Edinburgh War Hospital's First World War history has understandably got quite a bit of attention recently due to the centenary commemorations, but for 'B' I chose this Second World War album page from nurse and occupational therapist, Jean Currie:

A page from Jean Currie's photograph album, GD1/141/5
Jean's aunt, nursing sister Isabella Lamont, also worked at Bangour in the Edinburgh War Hospital in the First World War - their collections were donated to us together. Since we don't hold records of forces' patients on the whole, albums like this give us a precious glimpse into military hospital life. Expect to hear more about Second World War military medicine as the 80th anniversary comes up in 2019.

We reached C this week, so my final photo for now is this one from City Hospital, showing nursing staff in 1906:
1906 City Hospital nursing staff, P/PL23

City Hospital was opened in 1903 as part of the Edinburgh scheme of tuberculosis, pioneered by Sir Robert Philip from the 1880s. It replaced the previous fever hospital complex in High School Yards. As the threat of infectious diseases waned with advances in public health and treatment, City began to widen its remit to take in other specialisms, such as cardio-thoracic surgery and ear nose and throat care. More recently, City made history once more in its groundbreaking wards treating HIV patients, particularly those affected by intravenous drug use.

Remember to check our Twitter feed every Monday for the rest of the alphabet! In the meantime, here are some images to come. Can you guess what letters they will be under (so no captions for these!)?




If you would like to search for images from across Scotland's archive, search for the hashtag #ArchiveZ




Friday, 23 February 2018

A poet's war


A large part of LHSA's work is answering enquiries from the public about our holdings - last year, we dealt with around 900 of them! In investigating one query sent to us, LHSA volunteer Ellen Black delved deeper into a figure we previously weren't aware of...

LHSA recently received an interesting enquiry linked to our collections from the Craigleith Military Hospital (situated on the grounds of the present-day Western General Hospital). The enquiry relates to the Scottish poet and solider, Hamish Mann, who was heavily involved in the hospital’s magazine, The Craigleith Chronicle.

2nd Scottish General Hospital, Craigleith c. 1914 (GD28/8/1)
Mann often wrote powerful depictions of the horrors of war, or amusing skits to raise the morale of his men, and sent them back to The Chronicle to be published under the pen-name ‘Lucas Cappe’. Mann’s role as a volunteer at the hospital meant that his life and works were unknown within the collection until the recent enquiry. However, approaching the centenary of Armistice Day in 1918, Mann’s writings and tragic death continue to reveal important insight into the devastation caused by the First World War.

Hamish Mann in uniform (image from www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk)
Alexander James ‘Hamish’ Mann was born in Broughty Ferry in April 1896, the youngest of five children. He was educated at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh and subsequently under home tuition, due to Cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), a condition that kept him bedridden.

On the outbreak of war in 1914, Hamish was 18 years old. At this stage there was no conscription, and men who wished to enlist had to wait until their 19th birthday. Keen to contribute to the war effort, Hamish volunteered at Craigleith Military Hospital, where he co-edited The Craigleith Chronicle.

Mann began his officer training in July 1915, and was drafted to France in August 1916, joining the 8th Battalion Black Watch near Bethune. It seems that Hamish did not disclose his heart condition upon enlistment. He fought in several battles of the Somme, leading his men into battles and on long marches, despite his heart condition.  Hamish Mann died on the 10th April 1917, five days after his 21st birthday following being mortally wounded at the Battle of Arras. His parents collected his poetry, and published it as A Subaltern’s Musings in 1918.


Craigleith Hospital Chronicle (GD1/82/1)
The Craigleith Chronicle began publishing volumes in 1914 and continued producing magazines until the end of the war. The Chronicle detailed the day to day lives of those at the hospital and contained feature articles sent from troops fighting overseas. The Chronicle gives important insight into contemporary medicine, hospital management and personal accounts of the nature of war. The juxtaposition of harrowing accounts of warfare and satirical writings, alongside first-hand insight into war effort at home and overseas, seems to have proved popular among The Chronicle’s ever-growing subscription base.

Hamish Mann’s works are woven throughout The Chronicle’s pages until his death. A particularly emotive poem written under his pen-name was published in the August 1916 edition. ‘The Digger’, highlights the unglamorous reality of war on the Western Front and contrasts Mann’s earlier light-hearted works published during his time volunteering.

The Digger
‘He was digging, digging, digging with his little pick and spade,
And when the Dawn was rising it was trenches that he made;
But when the day was over and the sun was sinking red, –
He was digging little Homes of Rest for comrades who were dead ….’

Here is a selection of Mann’s earlier contribution to The Chronicle, before his war service, demonstrating the impact of war upon his writings:





If you'd like to learn more about Hamish Mann, our enquirer will be bringing out a book about his life and writings later this year, so we'll keep you posted!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Gertrude Herzfeld: Paving the way for female surgeons


In this week's blog we are recognising International Day of Women and Girls in Science by taking a look at the life of Scotland's first practicing female surgeon, Gertrude Herzfeld.


The upcoming International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11th February 2018 is a chance to promote the globally recognised goals to achieve full science and gender equality. A persistent gender gap underrepresents the participation of women and girls in education, training and employment in areas of science, technology and engineering. Here at LHSA we can find many examples amongst our collections of extraordinary women who fought many barriers and prejudices of history to make their mark in the field of science and medicine. One of our more unsung heroines Gertrude Herzfeld (1890 – 1981) is a perfect example of this and will represent our recognition of International day of Woman and Girls in Science. Celebrating Herzfeld, although a figure of history, is inspirational to the fight that still exists to empower women and girls to achieve full and equal access to participate in science. 
Gertrude Herzfeld (LHB8/71/1)
Herzfeld, born in London in 1890 to Austrian parents, first made her mark in studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1914. Although early in life Herzfeld had aspirations of being a doctor, being a woman at this time was strongly against a career choice in medicine. Least of all, women had to attended separate lectures from men at university and at the University of Edinburgh the Faculty of Medicine did not admit women on an entirely equal footing to men until 1916[1]. Nevertheless, from here she based much of her career in Edinburgh and is most famously known for being the first practicing female surgeon in Scotland. She was appointed as surgeon at the Royal Edinburgh hospital for Sick Children (together with LHSA favourite Norman Dott) and the Chalmers Hospital in 1925. Eventually she also took on the role of surgeon at Edinburgh Orthopaedic clinic (1925-1955) and at Bruntsfield hospital for Women and Children. Herzfeld was the first female practicing surgeon to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, taking her seat in 1920.
Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children (LHB5)
Over the next twenty to thirty years Herzfeld practiced and developed a wide range of procedures in paediatric and gynaecological surgery, becoming a specialist in abdominal, neonatal, orthopaedic and plastic surgery as well as the treatments of burns and trauma.  Aside from her surgical practice she gain accolade in her teaching and publishing, lecturing on childhood surgery at the University of Edinburgh and at the Edinburgh School of Chiropody, of which she was also a founding member. Throughout this time she was also medical advisor to the Edinburgh Cripple Aid Society and Trefoil School for Physically Handicapped Children. In later life Herzfeld chaired the Edinburgh City branch of the British Medical Association and was the National President of the Medical Women’s Federation between 1948-1950.









A selection of Herzfeld's publications 1925-1950 (LHB8/15/12)



Aside from these achievements and contributions to her field (but what also probably underwrote many of her great accomplishments in life) it seems Herzfeld was full of warmth and wisdom. It was noted that she showed real compassion to her patients and colleagues, in return she was affectionately nicknamed ‘Gertie’. One contemporary described her as, “Large in heart and in mind”.[2] As a highly skilled surgeon she was known to have performed the ‘Stiles’ Procedure’ to treat infants with inguinal hernia six times in fifty minuets! But even more than her professional brilliance she greatly respected her patients as individuals, getting to know their own social and psychological circumstances. Herzfeld reflected on this, "Orthopaedic surgery in the young child should really be linked with the general care of the child".[3] Through her practice and teaching Herzfeld was a great promoter of women in medicine and continued to support their fight against the barriers and challenges she faced in her own career. Herzfeld died aged 90 in Edinburgh in 1981. Her legacy paved the way for female surgeons in Scotland and she is remembered as an inspirational woman of medicine and science.
Herzfeld’s portrait is hung at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and her name is in the bank for Edinburgh City Council to use as a future street name – so there is potential for a little lasting tribute.

 


[1] University of Edinburgh. 2016. Alumni in History. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/alumni/services/notable-alumni/alumni-in-history/gertrude-herzfeld. [Accessed 5 February 2018].
[2] Macintyre, I and MacLaren, I (Eds.). Surgeons’ Lives (2005). Pg. 198.
[3] Herzfeld, G. (1949). Twenty-Five Years of Paediatric Surgery - A Retrospect. [Publication] Lothian Health Services Archive, Bruntsfield Hospital. Edinburgh.


Friday, 26 January 2018

Taking special care...

Today, the Neonatal Unit of the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health is holding a symposium to mark a very special delivery: the 50th anniversary of the Special Care Unit, first opened in the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion (SMMP) in 1968.

The SMMP itself welcomed mothers through its doors in 1939, moving maternity services from their old location on Lauriston Place to a building on what was then the site of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
SMMP, c. 1950s (P/PL3/SM/064)

In the 1930s, the paramount concern in obstetrics was for the health of the mother, and survival rates for premature (and many full-term) infants were much lower than they were to become in the late 1960s. This meant that few facilities were devoted to specialised care for newborn babies. But attitudes to neonatal care were shifting, with birth practice becoming more child-centred, medicine advancing and the role of the pediatrician expanding. The maternity wards of old were no longer up to the job.

The new SMMP Special Care Unit had thirty cots over four nurseries, one each dedicated to premature babies, babies with problems with their metabolism, babies with breathing problems, and babies suffering from infections. The Unit had its own staff of expert, specialist nurses, and (being based on the same site as the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh) could call on clinicians from the Infirmary for support when it came to difficult and intricate procedures (in very small children), such as blood transfusion and anaesthetic administration.

In its first year, 765 babies were admitted to the Special Care Unit, over 16% of all babies born in that time at the SMMP. A dedicated neonatal course for nurses was also set up - ensuring that this specialist branch of care would be supported for years to come, not only in Edinburgh, but through the learning of students from around the world.


Specialist nurses caring for babies in the early days of the Unit, 1972 (P/PL3/SM/067, 071)

In 1972, the Unit was helped by the donation of an ambulance from the Variety Club. No normal patient-transport vehicle, it was designed to move at-risk or premature babies to the SMMP from areas where specialist neonatal care was unavailable. Until 1979, standard ambulances could not provide the environment nor carry equipment needed to safely transport such delicate patients.

Variety Club special ambulance, 1972 (P/PL3/SM/081)
The Unit is still going strong today, helping vulnerable babies back to health and supporting parents through the most difficult times. If you'd like to read some more recent stories from parents about their babies' care in what is now the Neonatal Unit, you can see them here.

The Special Care Unit in 1983 (P/PL3/SM/074)








Friday, 19 January 2018

What’s in store for LHSA’s 2018?

In the first blog of 2018, we continue the LHSA tradition of taking a quick look at what we have planned for the year…

We handed in our Archive Service Accreditation review paperwork last month and a visit from our assessors is imminent. We’ve had a busy three years since being awarded accredited status so there is plenty to update them on!

We’ll find out the outcome of our accreditation review in March and in the meantime we’re looking forward to welcoming someone new to our team. Alice, our previous Access Officer, left us last year and we’re in the process of recruiting her replacement. The interviews are next week and we hope to have someone in post shortly after that. Watch this space - our new Access Officer will be blogging here!

The next few months will be particularly busy as we make our final preparations for the new General Data Protection Regulation, which is enforceable from May, and we’ll be finishing off our Wellcome Trust-funded project to catalogue case notes relating to TB and diseases of the chest too. July sees the NHS’s 70th birthday so we’ll be getting involved in the celebrations by putting on an exhibition – more on that in the blog later in the year, and on Facebook (lhsa.edinburgh) and Twitter (@lhsaeul). 

And of course there’s all our usual LHSA business: we’ll be developing and preserving the collection, supporting research and teaching, answering your enquiries and continuing our volunteer and intern programme…all of which will feature here at some point in 2018. Providing access to the collections will be a big part of the next 12 months, and we started as we mean to go on by participating in a People’s History of the NHS Roadshow in Edinburgh's Central Library last week. You can find out more about the event, and the People’s History of the NHS project, here: https://peopleshistorynhs.org/edinburgh-roadshow-8-january-2018/: the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh recipes below are just a little taste (pun intended!) of the collection items we displayed as part of the Roadshow.