Friday, 1 March 2013

City Archives Visit

A few weeks ago, staff from LHSA visited Edinburgh City Archives. Archive intern, Fiona also joined us. We were met by Richard Hunter, Edinburgh City Archivist, who first of all took us out to the storage facilities in Murrayburn Road. These are shared with a well-known records management company, which looks after the City Council’s current records. The archives have been stored in a split-level electronic shelving system and archivist, Peter Clapham showed us around. Some of the fascinating items that we were shown here included bailie court records from the 1720s and architectural plans of the Scotsman offices and the former North British Hotel, now the Balmoral. Peter also showed us that we could check if any of our ancestors had got into trouble with the law in Edinburgh during the 1870s - 1930s, from the police records. We didn’t find any familiar names, fortunately.

Archivist, Richard Hunter in the reading room at City Chambers
Richard then took us back to the Edinburgh City Chambers where many other items are kept. Our project cataloguer of the Norman Dott neurosurgery records, Louise, was delighted to be shown the record of Professor Dott being made a Free Man of the City of Edinburgh in 1962. This is an honour shared with Nelson Mandela and now Sir Chris Hoy. Some medical-related records which the City Archives hold are public health reports, including a case study of immunisation against smallpox from the 1940s, which as Richard explained, gained prominence in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001 for planning a public health response. Other items in the City Chambers which we shown were some of the fine collection of paintings and friezes, which grace the walls and rules for the first known golf tournament from 1744. Thanks to Richard and Peter for the extremely interesting tour – we saw an amazing amount of historical collections in one afternoon. The photo shows Richard relaxing in the reading room near the end of our whirlwind visit.

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