A new history of the Queen Square Institute of Neurology has recently been published. The book, Queen Square: A History of the National Hospital and its Institute of Neurology celebrates its fluctuating fortunes, and engrossing history, from foundation to its eventual amalgamation with University College London Hospital (UCLH) in 1996, and the absorption of the Institute of Neurology into University College London (UCL) in 1997. The book is over 550 pages in length and includes over 120 photos and images, along with biographies of many deceased former members of staff.
The objective of the authors (Simon Shorvon, Alastair Compston, Andrew Lees, Michael Clark, and Martin Rossor) is to place the story of the hospital within the wider contexts of British social history and the development of British neurology in the modern age. A broadly chronological approach has been adopted in the narrative, divided into three distinctive periods; 1859–1902, 1903–45 and 1946–97. The authors also revisit certain themes throughout the book to show that these have on repeated occasions influenced the course of the history of the hospital and its reciprocal engagement with the wider national and international community.
In November 2015, Boots Archive embarked on a five year project to re-catalogue the entire archive collection held at the Boots Head Office in Nottingham. The ambitious project was funded by a Research Resources Grant from the Wellcome Trust, and a catalogue relating to the first two years of the work is now available online.
The Boots Archive collection reflects the history of a high street healthcare retailer from the 1840s. The collection lends itself to multiple fields of interest: Boots has been manufacturing since the 1880s; the company has conducted extensive pharmaceutical research; it’s an early example of progressive industrial welfare, and it has been a horticultural and veterinary medicine producer and retailer. The company has also operated libraries and cafes, sold audio and sporting goods, artist’s materials and stationery and run cook shops. Also since the 1930s, Boots has operated more than 1,000 stores throughout the UK, meaning insights from the collection can inform nationwide trends.
For over 20 years the collection has been predominantly used as an internal resource with the team dedicating the majority of their time to promoting and supporting the use of the archives within the business. In more recent years, the Company Archivist started to investigate opening up the collection and expanding its availability externally to academic researchers.
Historically, the collection had been managed in a very simple way, which meant that records would be easy to retrieve. As the service was internally focused, records had been listed on a database and placed in concurrent boxes as they were accessioned. This allowed the team to provide an effective reference service to the business, which wasn’t complicated by contextual information or seemingly complex hierarchies and structures. Unfortunately this was not ideal for users of the catalogue beyond the archive team, and a survey of the collection in 2014 highlighted that one of the most significant challenges to wider access was that the current finding aid was ‘unfit for purpose.’
The first basic requirement for developing access was a relational database which would help impose some structure for users to navigate their way around the collections. It would also allow users to understand the complexities of the collection with a more structured database. We chose Axiell’s CALM – a widely used, tried and tested system which complies with professional standards. It would also allow researchers online access, and provide a sophisticated search functionality.
The archive service is linked to the company’s record management system, so when thinking about a structure for the catalogue, we had to bear in mind the constantly evolving nature of the collection. We also needed to consider the other significant assets within the collection, which include Dollond and Aitchison, with records dating from the 1750s, Optrex Ltd (1930s-1990s), and Timothy Whites and Taylors Ltd (1880s-1980s). We created a structure to show the relationship between the different businesses, with parent companies showing their subsidiaries, and so on.
We also adopted functions at our series levels to reflect the many and various departments of the company, which makes sense given how Boots has developed and how often departments have moved or changed name, and may change again in the future (this information will be reflected in the administrative histories). Also functions, we hope, can be easily interpreted by our researchers.
The beauty of having a clearly defined structure with functions and series from the start, means that you can approach the cataloguing in a slightly less structured way. Creating the structure at the start has allowed the project team to sort through the varied boxes of material and allocate them with a meaningful reference number with ease. Unfortunately we have been unable to justify the resources needed to physically re-arrange the entire collection, so the ability to at least re-structure it intellectually has been crucial.
At the project’s current point, the team are almost half way through cataloguing 5,000 archive boxes. We have created over 27,000 entries published on our online catalogue, with over 4,000 digitised images. There are also over 1,700 people authorities, 3,600 places, and 140 company brand histories available to search and cross-reference to the collection. Not only will the new resource make access to our collections easier, but the cataloguing process is allowing the team to enhance their understanding of the potential informational value of our records too.
In November 2017, Gwent Archives was generously awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant to catalogue our unlisted hospital and medical collections.
Our project ‘From “A Penny in the Pound” to “Free at the Point of Delivery”: Cataloguing the pre- and post-1948 hospital records of Monmouthshire’ started in May and will run for a year. It is led by a full-time project archivist who will catalogue the unlisted medical collections and retro-convert any existing card catalogues using our collection management software.
The project archivist will be joined in the latter half of the project by a part-time preservation assistant who will clean and package the newly listed records. Our aim is that catalogues for all of our hospital and health records collections will be complete, standardised and feature on the Gwent Archives website by the end of the project.
The collections to be newly catalogued represent a broad range of archival documents that relate to the provision of hospital and health services in (old) Monmouthshire during the 20th century. They include registers; plans; statistics; minutes and staff records from various hospitals in the county. Our work will make the following collections accessible to researchers of all disciplines:
The Obstetric Morbidity & Mortality Reports of obstetrician Dr Leonard Alexander Ogilvie of St James Hospital, Tredegar and Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny. Dr Ogilvie compiled these reports between the years of 1946-1979 and they contain a wealth of statistical information on incidents such as still-births, forceps deliveries and complicated labours.
Records of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. This large 20th century collection is representative of a number of hospitals in Monmouthshire including the Tredegar Park Cottage Hospital which had close connections with Aneurin Bevan and inspired his development of the NHS. It predominantly contains records which reflect the day to day running and activities of the hospitals, for example, ward reports; admission registers and operation books.
Caerphilly District Miners’ Hospital. This is a mid-late 20th century collection of maternity records which includes case registers; daily report books and birth registers.
A small but varied collection from Monmouth General Hospital containing some fascinating turn of the century archives including a photograph of the medical officers in 1903 and the architect’s design sketches for the new hospital building.
The Midwives Records 1943-1968 collection comprising of the professional records of a number of district midwives working in Monmouthshire during this period. The archive includes maternity case registers; drugs books and patient records.
A large collection of Hospital Plans representing a variety of Monmouthshire hospitals including the Royal Gwent Hospital and Pen y Fal asylum. The plans reveal the structural designs for the new main buildings and additional wards or departments that were built during the 20th century.
These records, alongside Gwent Archives wider hospitals and health collection are significant on both a local and national scale as they detail the administration and operational practices of hospitals in Monmouthshire during a period of great change in healthcare due to the Great War, increasing use of drugs in medical practice and the birth of the NHS. As closure periods pass, researchers will also benefit from the wealth of personal and professional information on people, places and institutions that these documents contain.
As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, it is our hope that the improved access to these collections made possible by this project will inspire further academic and public interest in the history of hospitals and healthcare in Monmouthshire.
Please see our blog for more information and updates about the project:
Louise Piffero, Archivist (Medical Collections), Leeds University Library Special Collections and Galleries
In May 2018, Leeds University Library Special Collections celebrated the completion of a major project to catalogue our medical collections. The two-and-a-half-year project was generously funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant. We’re very pleased to announce that all of the new catalogues are now available online, and the collections themselves can be accessed in our Reading Room.
Over the past 30 months, our small team of a Project Archivist, Project Assistant and Project Conservator have been hard at work cataloguing, digitising and preserving these archives.
We’ve created new catalogues for 13 separate archive collections, adding over 3000 new record descriptions onto our online catalogue. Digitisation has also been a large part of our project. 65 individual manuscripts totalling over 23,000 pages have been digitised and are available to view online.
Conservation needs have varied for the many different types of documents and objects in the collections. Everything has been repackaged into hundreds of standard and bespoke archive boxes and folders. Other items have also been cleaned and undergone minor paper repairs where necessary. 34 manuscripts have received conservation treatment.
The fascinating archives included in the project chart different aspects of the history of medicine and health in Leeds since the 18th century:
Firstly, The Leeds General Cemetery Company Archive, which consists of the administrative and burial records for the cemetery dating from its opening in 1835 up until its closure in the 1960s. The 25 burial registers have been digitised and transcribed, and are accessible to search via the Leeds General Cemetery Burial Registers Index. The online Index can be used to find details of individuals, but there are also options to browse full lists of all the recorded causes of death and occupations and view graphs of key statistics from the data.
The Leeds School of Medicine Archive. The records date right back to its creation in 1831 and up to the present day. The archive is not only made up of administrative material – there are also objects, records relating to individual staff and students, and a series of catalogues for the Pathological Museum.
Leeds was a centre for innovation in the fields of renal medicine and urology, and the archives of two surgeons can reveal this history. These are the Leslie Pyrah Archive and the Frank Maudsley Parsons Archive. Pyrah became director of the Medical Research Council Unit in Leeds and set up the first artificial kidney unit in the UK at the LGI. Parsons was head of the unit and performed the first kidney dialysis at the Infirmary in 1956.
The Bragg Family Collection contains the notebook of Sir William Henry Bragg and his son, Sir (William) Lawrence Bragg, detailing experiments made in connection with research on X-rays and the molecular structure of crystals at the University of Leeds in 1913. They were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915.
The project has helped us to forge new relationships with academics across the University of Leeds, where we have been able to support research projects, provide student internships, and offer introductory sessions to the medical archives for specific teaching modules. We’ve also been able to showcase lots of the medical collections at different public events, including our monthly Tuesday Treasure event which is held in our Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery.
Even though the project is finished, we will continue to focus on our medical collections. To find out more, check out the Leeds University Library Blog: https://leedsunilibrary.wordpress.com/
Workshop on wearable medical device data
23 July 2018, 09.30-16.00
Great Hall, King’s College London
The Health Archives and Records Group is hosting a free, day-long workshop on data collected by wearable medical devices. These range from simple blood pressure monitoring devices used by keep-fit enthusiasts to clinical equipment used in the more complex care of patients with chronic, difficult to manage conditions such as Type 1 diabetes and lung disease. This is a rapidly evolving technology with major sensitivity concerns, and so records managers and archivists with responsibility for health related data in the NHS, private health care, pharmaceuticals, university and other sectors may find this workshop particularly useful.
The day will include quick-fire talks from device manufacturers and service providers, records managers, researchers, policy advisors and others, and will cover the creation and management of data, ethical and legal concerns, storage, digital preservation and re-use of data for research or other purposes. There will also be practical sessions, discussion and debate around current issues, likely future developments and next steps for the implementation of appropriate and sustainable standards and protocols around this data.
Confirmed speakers to date:
Dr Natalie Banner (‘Understanding Patient Data’ project, Wellcome Trust)
Professor Patricia Grocott (Professor of Nursing Technology and Innovation, King’s College London)
Dr Martyn Harris (Institute of Coding, Birkbeck University)
Tim Kendall (UK Caldicott Guardian Council and Chair of the London Caldicott Guardian Network)
Dr Rebecca Lynch (Research Fellow (Medical Anthropology), London School of Hygiene and Tropic Medicine)
Russell Joyce (Health Sciences Records and Archives Association)
Chris Robson (Entrepreneur and CEO of ‘Living With…’ condition management platform)
Full programme and further details to follow.
If you are interested in booking one of the remaining places at the event, please contact Clare Button at Clare.Button@ed.ac.uk