Friday, 20 December 2013

A year with Norman Dott...

This week, Project Archivist Louise talks about the last year in the company of neurosurgeon Norman Dott…
LHB1 CC/20/PR1.1563 Norman Dott, 1937 - on the steps of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
2013 is quickly drawing to a close, and it’s been an especially busy year for the Norman Dott case note cataloguing project. As well as my core role of cataloguing, I’ve also been making sure that the project is well publicised, from participating in University seminars to writing articles and presenting conference papers.
The highlight of 2013 for me has to be the extension of project funding given by the Wellcome Trust. After the initial scoping period of the project in Autumn 2012, it became clear that it would not be possible to create a catalogue entry that would be of real value to different groups of researchers inside the original timescale of the project. After submitting a report to the Wellcome Trust, we were delighted that they accepted our proposal to extend the project by nine months to June 2015 and include a contribution from volunteers. This means that we can catalogue all four Dott case note collections with thorough and meaningful descriptions and that the Dott project has become a team effort instead of a solo one.

Not only have the four volunteers that have participated in the project this year given their valuable time, but they have also offered fresh perspectives on the case notes and the methods that I’ve devised to catalogue them. Working with volunteers also means that more people know about the aims of the project and why cataloguing case notes in this way is so important (not to mention labour intensive!). Without this volunteer contribution, future researchers would find it near impossible to pinpoint individual patients, neurological conditions and social groups in the forest of case files facing them – so thank you Kirsty, Mahesh, Eleanor and Iain!

So what’s to come in 2014? Next summer, the Dott project will become truly international, having been accepted to present a panel at the International Council on Archives conference in Paris in July 2014 along with Wellcome-funded colleagues from the Towards Dolly and Godfrey Thomson cataloguing projects.

However, the most exciting update for the new year is that LHSA has been able to offer a paid internship in 2014 focusing on the Dott collections. For eight weeks, I’ll be working with the successful candidate to share the work that LHSA has been doing to catalogue case notes to item-level and introduce them to the method that I use, Encoded Archival Description, which is often taught to student archivists in theory, but not always in practice.
In the past month, we’ve sadly said goodbye to our current archive intern, Sharon, our research intern, Kirstin, and our conservation intern, Sarah. They’ve both made a great contribution to the work of LHSA (as you’ll see from their last blog post!), and if our 2014 internship starts as well as the 2013 internship programme ended, we’ll begin the new year in style! Merry Christmas, everybody!

LHB1 CC/24/PR2.1968 - Personalised New Year card from a relieved patient!

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