Friday, 23 March 2018

Archive to Z!

This week, Archivist Louise has been joining the twenty-first century with a spot of tweeting!

The next couple of years will be busy ones for archive professionals in Scotland. Our national professional association, the Archives and Records Association, is holding its conference in Glasgow later this year, and in 2019 Edinburgh will welcome archive professionals from across the globe when the International Council on Archives arrive for their annual gathering.

To count down to a jam-packed programme at the ARA conference in Glasgow, our local archives group, ARA Scotland, asked local archives to join a campaign on Twitter, highlighting a different item from their collections each week in an archive A to Z. Social media is becoming more and more important in the heritage sector in reaching new and more diverse audiences, helps get rid of our unfair 'dusty old books' image and can be a quick way to tell lots of people about collections and events. So I took the bull by the horns and compiled an introduction to LHSA in 26 letters. We've got to 'C' so far, and to whet your appetite for the weeks to come, here are the images from the LHSA collections shared on Twitter...

A is definitely for animals. Well, for me at least. I'll never miss a chance to share a picture of a puppy or a kitten. Although hospitals are very much about treating people, staff often kept pets (as seen in the dogs and cats so often featured in pictures of Royal Infirmary residents) and we also have pictures of animals kept in war hospitals, a comfort to patients and staff in a harrowing time:

A cairn terrier (I think!) with an injured First World War soldier at Edenhall Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers, LHB54/4/1
For the Twitter project, though, I chose this postcard from physician Alexander Murray Drennan:

Postcard from collection of Alexander Murray Drennan, c. 1900s, GD9/9
 Eventual Chair of Pathology at the University of Edinburgh, Drennan pioneered the use of boric acid and bleaching powder in the treatment of wounds in the First World War. We have a sizeable personal and medical collection from him, fascinating in some of its detail and connections. If you want to find out more about Drennan, our former Access Officer, Alice, wrote a fascinating blog about him here. For me, the postcard also shows the accidental pieces of pop culture that are so often preserved in archives - part of what makes delving into personal collections like this such a surprise.

B is for Bangour. I use the collection of the West Lothian psychiatric institution, Bangour Village Hospital, quite a bit in research that I do for genealogy enquiries. Due to the rich nature of 'asylum' records that we preserve, the records are understandably popular with academic researchers and genealogy researchers alike. However, the hospital was taken over in both world wars by the military, when it became Edinburgh War Hospital, and the psychiatric patients transferred to other institutions. Edinburgh War Hospital's First World War history has understandably got quite a bit of attention recently due to the centenary commemorations, but for 'B' I chose this Second World War album page from nurse and occupational therapist, Jean Currie:

A page from Jean Currie's photograph album, GD1/141/5
Jean's aunt, nursing sister Isabella Lamont, also worked at Bangour in the Edinburgh War Hospital in the First World War - their collections were donated to us together. Since we don't hold records of forces' patients on the whole, albums like this give us a precious glimpse into military hospital life. Expect to hear more about Second World War military medicine as the 80th anniversary comes up in 2019.

We reached C this week, so my final photo for now is this one from City Hospital, showing nursing staff in 1906:
1906 City Hospital nursing staff, P/PL23

City Hospital was opened in 1903 as part of the Edinburgh scheme of tuberculosis, pioneered by Sir Robert Philip from the 1880s. It replaced the previous fever hospital complex in High School Yards. As the threat of infectious diseases waned with advances in public health and treatment, City began to widen its remit to take in other specialisms, such as cardio-thoracic surgery and ear nose and throat care. More recently, City made history once more in its groundbreaking wards treating HIV patients, particularly those affected by intravenous drug use.

Remember to check our Twitter feed every Monday for the rest of the alphabet! In the meantime, here are some images to come. Can you guess what letters they will be under (so no captions for these!)?

If you would like to search for images from across Scotland's archive, search for the hashtag #ArchiveZ

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