Friday, 21 January 2011

Detective Work in LHSA!

This week Alison, our Assistant Archivist (cataloguing), tells us about some mystery items she found in the Archive:

I recently finished cataloguing a large collection of assorted patient registers that were transferred to us by the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children. We knew that some of the volumes may have come from other hospitals in the region but unfortunately we didn’t know which ones! 

I started happily cataloguing in-patient registers, operation books and others until I came across three volumes with the title ‘Children’s Unit Admissions Book’ dating from 1965-1974.  This was where the mystery began - I thought it was a bit strange that a children’s hospital would have a 'children’s unit' so I wondered if they came from another hospital but the books themselves gave no clues!  I looked through the catalogues of our other hospital collections but they didn’t seem to fit anywhere.  I had drawn a blank until I notices that one of the columns in the 'Children's Unit' volumes was headed ‘parent hospital’ and seemed to be the name of the hospital that had transferred the child to this unknown unit. 

So, in an effort to solve the mystery, I picked out a few names of patients who were noted as being transferred from Leith Hospital as the 'parent hospital'.  Luckily I was then able to find entries for these patients in the admissions registers from our Leith Hospital collection (LHB6).  Two of the patients had the annotation 'AAI' next to their names.....  Astley Ainslie Infirmary, meaning they had been transferred from Leith Hospital to the 'AAI'! 

At last – I could catalogue the Children's Unit volumes into the Astley Ainslie Hospital collection (LHB35) and be confident they were in the right place ready for any future researchers or enquiries. 
Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children ward, c 1890

There are often many cross-overs in our hospital collections, due to obvious links between hospitals and changes in administrative structures over the years, sometimes it just takes a bit of detective work to sort them out!

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