Friday, 30 May 2014

The Dott project marches on…

This week's blog comes from Liz Course, LHSA's new Project Cataloguing Archivist working with the case notes of Norman Dott:
I am now in the second week of a 12 month post working on the Wellcome Trust funded project, Cataloguing Norman Dott’sneurosurgical case notes (1920-1960), and am greatly looking forward to working on the collection and getting to know more about Professor Dott and the pioneering work he carried out throughout his career. I am in the lucky position of having some familiarity with the collection due to a 10 week internship with LHSA earlier this year, during which I assisted with the cataloguing of patient case files from Dott’s time working at the Brain Injuries Unit at Bangour Emergency Medical Hospital during the Second World War.

The project is now in its second year, with a large volume of cataloguing already having been completed by Louise along with the assistance of several dedicated volunteers and one trusty intern. I am joining the project at an exciting time as the cataloguing of the largest series of case notes, those from the Department of Surgical Neurology, Ward 20, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 1941-1959 (LHB1 CC/24), is nearing the halfway point.

The project involves the cataloguing of four series of case notes to item level using a methodology developed by Louise:

·         Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Professor Norman Dott Case Notes, 1920s-1940s (LHB1 CC/20) – cataloguing completed

·         Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Professor Norman Dott Case Notes, 1941-1959

 (LHB1 CC/24) – cataloguing ongoing

·         Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Professor Norman Dott, Neurology, Ward 20, Filed by Disease, c.1925-c.1955 (LHB1 CC/22)

·         Bangour (EMS) Surgical Neurology Case Notes, c.1939-c.1944 (LHB40 CC/2)

10 weeks of cataloguing completed by Intern

Having previously worked on the Bangour Case Notes and having learned about Professor Dott’s important work during the Second World War, I am now getting to catalogue records created slightly later in his career. The Department of Surgical Neurology was established at Ward 20 of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in 1938 and was the first dedicated neurosurgery ward in Scotland. The case notes reflect a wide range of illnesses and injuries, with many patients being referred there for specialist care. From the brief insight I have had in the last week and a half of working on the series they were a very busy department, often having patients put on waiting lists for non-emergency operations (for treatment of slipped discs, for example). Dott’s Department of Surgical Neurology team worked at both Ward 20 and the Brain Injuries Unit at Bangour, with initial examination mainly taking place at Ward 20 along with surgical treatment and outpatient facilities; and some surgical treatment and rehabilitation being carried out at Bangour. On commencing cataloguing I quickly realised that I had jumped in at the point when Dott was on a 20 month leave of absence due to ill health and the Department was being ably managed by Dr Kate Herman and Mr F J Gillingham. From several letters and notes relating to patients it seems that despite his poor health Dott remained involved and was consulted by colleagues about certain cases.

I look forward to sharing more about the project and the interesting material I encounter over the next 12 months. 

Nurse preparing anaesthetic for Dott's operating theatre in Ward 20 of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 1943 (P/PL1/S/102)

Nurse preparing instruments in Ward 20 operating theatre, 1943 (P/PL1/S/103)


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