This week’s blog is written by Sharon Boyle who has been with us on placement for the past two weeks. The collection she has worked on is fitting for Remembrance Sunday as it focuses on the work of Dr. Elsie Inglis who was instrumental in setting up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service Committee. During World War One, the Committee sent teams to France, Serbia and Russia where all-female staffed hospitals treated the wounded. Dr. Inglis worked in Serbia until she was captured and sent home in 1915, only to return to mainland Europe as head of the Scottish Women's Hospital team in Russia from 1916 – 1917. Sharon shares some thoughts on the collection, and her placement.
“I’ve spent the last two weeks working at LHSA on a placement. I’m currently eight weeks into the Information Management and Preservation course at Glasgow University; all students have do a cataloguing placement, and I thought that LHSA would be an interesting place to do mine.
|Dr Elsie Inglis|
My task was to catalogue the papers of Dr. Anne McLeod Shepherd, an Edinburgh doctor. During her lifetime, she developed an interest in the work of Dr. Elsie Inglis. She established a maternity hospital for poor women, which would later become the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital, and then went to Serbia during World War One, to run and organise field hospitals. Dr. Shepherd’s interest in the life of Dr. Inglis was clearly reflected in her papers; she spent time campaigning to have the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital listed as a historical building, creating an Elsie Inglis Heritage Trail, and commissioning a plaque in her memory in Edinburgh’s High Street.
I arrived with a reasonably clear of how to approach the task, having been prepared by lectures at university, but the practical work I’ve done over the last fortnight has really helped me to see how an archivist catalogues a collection. From the initial task of ‘box-listing’, making a note of what the collection contains , to making decisions about how to arrange the collection and recording that, to numbering the items in the collection and ‘re-housing’ them in suitable containers, has been extremely helpful for me. In my last few days I’m going to complete recording the details of the collection and finally make a note of any items I’m going to dispose of, e.g. duplicates and unannotated envelopes.
Learning the cataloguing process has been interesting, but so has finding out about a part of history that I previously only knew a little about. The challenges faced by the early female medical graduates of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and the personal sacrifices they made to serve in the War have been fascinating to discover.
|Sharon working on Dr Shepherd's papers|
I’ve also enjoyed being shown the Digital Imaging Unit and Conservation Suite and finding out what happens there and how the work in those areas intersects with the archives. It’s also been very useful to observe the day to day routines of an archive office and the tea and cake breaks when I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed by the contents of my collection were very welcome!”