Friday, 30 November 2018

Cataloguing women and health...

This week's blog comes from placement student, Emma Mitchell. Emma is a student on the MSc in Information Management and Preservation course at the University of Glasgow, one of seven recognized study programmes in the UK and Ireland that qualify people to become archivists. As part of their 'Discovery, Cataloguing and Navigation' module, students are placed in a real-world archive environment for two weeks to hone their cataloguing skills. We were delighted to have Emma as part of the LHSA team for the first two weeks of November, and she's certainly carried out some valuable work in making our collections more accessible, as you'll hear below:

Working with LHSA for my two week placement (a mandatory requirement for the MSc Information Management and Preservation programme at the University of Glasgow) has been such an amazing opportunity! Before starting, I had never considered working in a health archive, but these past two weeks have shown me how interesting it is! Being able to contextualise the theory I have been learning in my programme with practical experience has been incredibly rewarding, and I know the skills I learned through cataloguing my collections will be invaluable as I move forward in this profession.

Over the past two weeks, I catalogued two very different collections; the first one being a more career-related collection, while the second was more personal. The first collection belonged to Dr Jacqueline Mok, and I had such a great time learning about her work and her story. This collection is comprised of more professional documents such as research and research funding, however, getting to learn more about the work she did for the Lothian community was incredible! 

Dr Mok was responsible for the care and treatment of children with HIV and those affected by HIV through mother to child transmission, and she started this particular job in 1985, during the time of the HIV outbreak in Edinburgh. Learning about all of the adversities Dr Mok faced at the beginning of her position makes her accomplishments even more unbelievable; she dealt with funding cuts and the displacement of her family clinic, all while trying to treat children and educate the public on HIV. To this day, Dr Mok is a valued medical authority (even in retirement) and the impact she has had on the lives of young mothers and children affected by HIV has been remarkable.

Jacqueline Moq's papers catalogued and neatly  rehoused (GD59)
The second collection I worked on was more personal, and dealt with the notes, qualifications, and photographs of Maryann Urquhart; a magnificent woman who gained three different nursing qualifications, and worked as the state district nurse for the parish of Ceres in Fife for a number of years. I found this collection to be extremely fascinating, especially when I got to looking through some of her old lecture notes and discovered hospital recipes from the 1940s! That was a fun surprise! 

Maryann Urquhart's Dietetic lecture notes from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, with recipes and nutrition notes, 1941 - 1942 (GD1/149/1/2/1/4)
While this collection had its challenges in trying to date the photographs, it allowed me to do some detective work in order to figure it out:

Maryann Urquhart with her car as a district nurse, 1940s (P/PG1/149/004)

Overall, these past two weeks have been incredibly rewarding and gaining experience in cataloguing will definitely be useful in the future. I had never done any cataloguing up until this point, but I can guarantee the skills I learned here will stay with me throughout my career!

If you want to learn more about the work of Jacqueline Mok, you can view Emma's catalogue to her collection (GD59) here. Look out for the catalogue to Maryann Urquhart's papers in the near future!

Friday, 16 November 2018

A crocodile in the collections!

This week's blog comes from Natalia Vladinova, this year's Conservation Intern and the newest addition to the LHSA team - and she's found a rather strange creature in the collections...

I’m Natalia Vladinova, and I’m a graduate of a five-year Master's Degree in restoration and conservation in Bulgaria at the National Academy of Arts. Guided by my interest in the conservation of objects on paper, I went on to specialize in San Gemini, Italy, gaining in-depth knowledge about the conservation and technology of paper and ink production used in various historical periods and in different social-cultural communities. This experience helped me gain a permanent position as a paper conservator in the largest specialized conservation laboratory for objects on paper and parchment in Bulgaria - the conservation department of the National Library "St. St. Cyril and Methodius".

My experience with the internship has been fantastic. I like the way that it is organized, and I think that so far the two most memorable experiences have been the visit to St Cecilia’s Hall and to the Surgeon’s Hall Museum conservation studios. So far, it has been a great learning and networking experience.

The personal collection of German emigre neurologist Ernst Levin is being rehoused! This is my main task during my internship. My aim is for the collection to be surveyed and rehoused in way that makes it easily accessible for use and cataloguing as part of an upcoming PhD, starting in January 2019.

The collection consists of many loose letters and ones that are still in their original envelopes, lots of greetings cards and postcards, some art sketches, many photographs of the Levin family, and even a sword with a harness! This personal collection is quite unusual for LHSA, and the varied media it consists of makes it a challenging one for rehousing.

If you are interested in the project keep an eye for upcoming peculiarities, such as this postcard:

It depicts a poem from one of the most popular Russian children's poets – Korney Chukovsky. An excerpt from the poem is depicted – a long crocodile putting out a fire in the blue sea with the help of pierogi (filled dumplings), blini and dried mushroom! If you are interested in finding more about the poet check out this research by Anna Vaninskaya.