The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh have recently established award to support the study of the history of medicine in Scotland. The prize for the award has been set as £500.
This award is open to all researchers in the history of medicine, or related social and cultural history fields. Researchers can be based in the United Kingdom or overseas. Please be aware that for overseas finalists, travel expenses to the event will only be paid from their point of entry into the United Kingdom.
Application and Selection Procedure
Research must be unpublished and must have been undertaken in the last 3 years. Research which has been submitted for publication will be considered, but details should be given of when and where it has been submitted, and if it has been accepted for publication. Abstracts must be based on original research in the field.
The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2018.
Abstracts must be submitted in either PDF or Word format along with a completed application form and curriculum vitae. The abstract must not exceed 1000 words in length. The curriculum vitae must not exceed two sides of A4.
Applicants, if chosen, must be willing to present their research on Friday 19 October 2018. This is a public event, to encourage engagement with the history of medicine in Scotland.
The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh will publish the winning paper. The winner will also be asked to submit a guest blog post on their research for publication on the College’s heritage blog.
The award can only be awarded to an individual once.
By Joanna McConville, Archivist: Wellcome Trust Project, West Sussex County Council
Here at West Sussex Record Office (WSRO) in Chichester, we are drawing to the end of a major project involving the archive of the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, which became known during the Second World War as the centre for the treatment of the ‘Guinea Pig Club’, the RAF and Allied Air personnel who suffered severe burns and underwent major reconstructive procedures under the care of pioneering surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe.
The origins of the project date back to 2013, when the hospital’s archive was first deposited at WSRO. Comprising a substantial, if incomplete series of administrative records, together with a number of McIndoe’s working papers and a vast collection of patient case files including those of the celebrated ‘Guinea Pigs’, the archive was recognised to be one of national and international interest and significance which shed light on the revolutionary plastic surgery carried out at the hospital by McIndoe and his team, work which formed a key part of the history and development of plastic surgery as a discipline. McIndoe’s approach was particularly notable in his concern with his patients’ long-term rehabilitation and re-integration into society following their injury and disfigurement and the Guinea Pig Club which was founded by a group of the airmen in 1941 provided a support network throughout their lives.
In 2015, WSRO and the Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust successfully submitted a bid to the Wellcome Trust for £72,952 to fund the cataloguing and preservation of the archive and the digitisation of over 600 Guinea Pig patient files, in addition to the digitisation of a collection of medical drawings produced at McIndoe’s behest by Mollie Lentaigne, a young VAD nurse who worked at Queen Victoria Hospital during the war. These drawings are held at the East Grinstead Museum, who have partnered WSRO in the project alongside the Guinea Pig Club and Queen Victoria Hospital. Work on the project began in earnest in 2016 with the appointment of the first of two Project Archivists and a dedicated Preservation and Digitisation Assistant.
As the current Project Archivist, the experience of working with this collection has been both a privilege and an eye-opener on a number of levels, offering up engagement with some fascinating archival material and inspirational human stories, but also presenting some considerable practical challenges. Some time after making an initial decision on what information to capture when cataloguing each patient file, it became clear that with over 15,000 files altogether and a very limited number of months to carry out the work, something would have to change in order to meet project deadlines. The original pro forma used for recording patient information was significantly amended to enable cataloguing at a rate which would allow the project to be completed on time.
The nature and content of the material has also tested our resources to a degree which was perhaps not fully anticipated. The patient case files, especially those of the Guinea Pigs, are image-heavy, filled with graphic photographs depicting individuals with severely disfiguring and distressing injuries, captured at all stages of treatment and recovery. On one level I was struck by how my tolerance for viewing such images increased and how normalised they became, yet there was always a tipping point, an image which I would wish had remained unseen, and which lingered uncomfortably in my mind long after the file was firmly shut and stored away in the strongroom. It raised some interesting questions for us on how to manage the possible psychological and emotional impacts of exposure to some types of archival material.
Issues around sensitivity and access have loomed large, as is perhaps inevitable with medical records, and particularly a collection which is comparatively recent and which contains such a high proportion of confidential patient files. This has been probably the steepest learning curve for me as a new archivist, and I have been immensely grateful for the input and advice of experienced colleagues both at WSRO and in the wider archival community. With the prominence and degree of interest in McIndoe and the Guinea Pig Club, and the value of the archive, especially the Guinea Pig patient files, as a unique resource which has great research potential, there has always been a delicate line to tread between our two-fold responsibilities: maintaining confidentiality and ensuring compliance with legislation on the one hand, and promoting and raising awareness of a remarkable collection on the other.
Following almost two years of work, the project has resulted in the creation of over 25,000 digital images and an extensive catalogue including all of the patient case files which will shortly be made available online. We are now in the final phase of organising various outreach events and activities to help ensure that knowledge of the archive – and of the compelling history of Queen Victoria Hospital, the Guinea Pig Club and the work of Archibald McIndoe can reach as wide an audience as possible.
London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London, EC1R 0HB
At this professional seminar, LMA and St Bartholomew’s Hospital Archives will share their approaches to opening up access to medical records in their collections through two current projects funded by the Wellcome Trust Research Resources in Medical History scheme. Speakers include: Philippa Smith, Lara Speroni, Giorgia Genco, Kate Jarman and Rebecca D’Ambrosio.
You can register for free for this event via Eventbrite:
My name is Lindsey Sutton and I am the Project Archivist employed on the Wellcome funded Unlocking the Asylum project at Denbighshire Archives. The project began in October of this year and is due to run until November 2019.
The North Wales Hospital, Denbigh, was the main institution in North Wales for the care of the mentally ill. The institution opened in October 1848 serving the whole of North Wales and the borders. A century later, its patients numbered in excess of 1,500. It was by far the biggest employer in the area and activities recorded in its voluminous archives reflect its importance in the social and economic life of the area, with its farm, sporting activities, community events and cultural festivals.
The hospital finally closed its doors in 1995. The resulting archive is unique in its completeness including: patient records; annual reports and committee minutes; financial records; plans; and staff records.
The project team is made up of three roles. There is the Project Archivist (myself), whose role is to produce an itemised catalogue of the existing accessions re-catalogued to current standards and an itemised catalogue of later accessions of administration records. There is a Project Support Officer who will spend two years indexing and repackaging the later series of patient case files, some 23,000 in total.
Finally there is the Project Conservator who has been employed for three months to assess the collection for conservation needs and suggest preventive preservation measures.
We are now three months into the project and the first phase to re-catalogue the existing accessions is now complete, the temporary catalogue is available online via the Denbighshire Archives website.
Work is also well under way on the indexing and repackaging of the patient files, of which just under 1000 have been completed. Additionally a detailed conservation survey has been completed, the repackaging recommendations of which will be implemented next year.
If you would like to find out more about this project please see our two recent blog posts which look at the plans for repackaging the series of maps and plans, and take a closer look at the information contained within the patient files predating the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948.
These notebooks are a series of medical practice records, covering the 1740s to 1780s. Each entry deals with an individual patient, recording symptoms and treatment. It’s clear that there is more than one style of handwriting in the books, but we believe the later entries to be the work of Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) who moved […]