Friday, 21 October 2011

Re-housing of Dermatology Index Cards

This week LHSA has received an accession of patient index cards: more than 100 drawers’ worth! These were originally from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Dermatology Department, but kept more recently at the Western General Hospital where NHS Lothian’s dermatology services are now based. The index cards date from approximately 1904-1967 and record the patient’s details with a brief synopsis of diagnosis and treatment. They often contain other information such as charts and correspondence. Included in the accession were also a small number of case notes and registration cards.

The drawers as they arrived were completely disordered, dirty and did not provide adequate protection for the contents, so a decision was made to re-house the cards immediately. Firstly, the drawers had to be ordered chronologically, decade by decade. It was found that there was a main year by year patient sequence plus a number of other sequences relating to x-rays and to particular practitioners, therefore it was decided to create one chronological sequence first, followed by these additional sequences and any drawers that had no identification.

Index Cards on arrival

The index cards were surface cleaned with a soft brush and checked for the presence of pests then placed in archival boxes in order. Each archival box can house the contents of more than one original drawer so a note was kept of which drawers’ contents had been placed in each box and a slip of archival paper was placed at the start of each run of index cards in the box with the original drawer’s title. Not all the index cards were of the same size therefore they were orientated accordingly to fit and two different box sizes were used. The archival boxes were numbered in pencil as they were filled and then the box content notes were typed onto a labelling sheet and neat labels were printed and attached to the boxes.

Index Cards during re-housing
Now that the index cards have been re-housed they take up less space, they are more accessible and are protected from further damage. The next step will be cataloguing them to make their research potential widely known.

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