Archives

Upcoming seminar: Approaches to Opening Up Medical Records, London Metropolitan Archives

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Date: Fri 19 January 2018

Time: 09:30 – 13:30 GMT

Venue:
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:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/approaches-to-opening-up-medical-records-tickets-40179235174?aff=es2

 

 

Archives

Unlocking the Asylum Project at Denbighshire Archives

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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.

http://archives.denbighshire.gov.uk/collections/getrecord/GB209_HD-1

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.

Unlocking the Asylum: Unrolling the Archive

Exploring the Asylum: Patient Case Books

We will continue to post regular updates throughout the project on our blog and Facebook pages.

News

‘Putting Flesh on the Bones: Unlocking the Calvin Wells Archive and Book Collection’ at the University of Bradford

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The Calvin Wells Archive Collection, created by renowned palaeopathologist Calvin Wells (1908-1978) will be the focus of a brand new cataloguing project thanks to a grant of nearly £140,000 from the Wellcome Trust.

The project which started in June 2017 and will run for 18 months, will undertake the cataloguing, digitisation and promotion of the Calvin Wells Archive and Book Collection with the intention of creating a valuable resource for the study of palaeopathology, osteology and bioarchaeology.

Once catalogued, it is anticipated that Wells’ bone reports, associated research notes, and radiographic and photographic material will inform and motivate new and on-going scientific research. The catalogue will be made available for consultation on Archives Hub and digitised items will be viewable via the University of Bradford Special Collections’ online portal.

In addition to the archive collection, the project will catalogue Wells’ significant library of medical, archaeological and anthropological texts.  The books, which date from the 17th century to the 1960s, include works on early humans, on ancient civilisations and on archaeological topics such as frost tombs.

The project is being led by Dr Jo Buckberry from the Biological Anthropology Research Centre, School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences, and Alison Cullingford from Special Collections, both based at the University of Bradford. Delivering the project will be Project Archivist James Neill with the assistance of an Osteologist, Conservator, Librarian and Placement Student.

Please visit our project blog at: https://puttingfleshonthebones.wordpress.com/

The project recently featured in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/aug/11/the-bone-collector-eccentric-archaeological-treasury-to-be-digitised

Guest Post

Life and death in 1960’s Civil Service: Whitehall Study I collection now available

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Chris Olver, Cataloguing Archivist, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine


The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has been at the centre of excellence for epidemiology and medical statistics for 90 years. Researchers at the school have contributed to our understanding of disease outbreaks, effectiveness of drug and vaccination treatments and effect of environmental and lifestyle choices on population health. The papers of one of the most renowned longitudinal studies on population health, Whitehall Study, is now available for consultation at the School’s Archive Service.

Infographic showing clinical procedure for health screening of the Whitehall Study volunteers. 

The Whitehall Study I, also known as the ‘Health Survey of Male Civil Servants aged 40 or over’, was a longitudinal health survey of male Civil Servants, aged 40-60, based in London, conducted from 1967-1970 by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Guy’s Hospital. The study involved a mass health screening of 18300 subjects selected across 38 departments conducted in a special screening centre situated in Whitehall. The initial purpose of the study was to identify early signs of cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic diseases and refer at risk patients onto medical services. The second phase of the study involved selecting subjects for a series of controlled studies on effectiveness of intervention methods, these included weight loss trials, exercise trials and a smoking cessation study involving 1445 men. The entire study cohort were then monitored and tracked by the survey team, through the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS), with any deaths and certain disease diagnoses recorded.

Table showing smoking habits of Grade I (Administrators). The questionnaire asked volunteers about current smoking habits, previous smoking history along with a supplementary section for pipe and cigar smokers.

 

It was through the analysis of the resulting mortality data that the most famous finding of the study was revealed. Sir Michael Marmot noticed that lower grade employees were a third more like to die from various mortality causes than those employed at higher grades. This finding showed a clear social gradient in mortality and led to a second Whitehall Study being created that focused directly on the extent and causes of the social gradient. The Stress and Health Study, or Whitehall II, followed a new cohort of 10,308 male and female subjects, aged 35-55, from 1985 to the present day.

 

The archive collection provides an invaluable resource of the data collection, monitoring work and analysis conducted on the original Whitehall Study. The majority of the papers include raw data from the health screening, primarily questionnaires but also clinical test results including electrocardiograms, X-ray and blood results. Mortality data includes photocopies of death certificates, medical coding and computer coding forms and sickness absence reports collected from across the participating departments. Other material includes follow-up studies, primarily relating to the smoking cessation trial and graphs, tables and working papers regarding data analysis. The collection also includes a rich holding of material from preceding health surveys conducted at the School including material relating to General Post Office (GPO) health trials, 1964-1993, and the survey on the effects of air pollution on rates of chronic bronchitis in the Civil Service, 1950-1958.

 

Blank questionnaire from 1966 General Post Office health survey

The Whitehall Cataloguing Project sought to preserve, catalogue and make available the Whitehall Study collection for wider access. It was undertaken by the LSHTM Library & Archives Service between January and September 2017, with funding provided by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources grant. The catalogue description is available on the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine online catalogue and can also be viewed on the AIM25, Archive Hub and the National Archives Discovery catalogue.