Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH) - Case Book Database Update

It’s been a while since we brought you news of what’s happening on this front, and a lot has happened since the project started in May 2012. For anyone new to the project, we (well, strictly speaking, our volunteers!) are creating a database which lists every patient admitted to the REH from 1840 - 1932. The information is taken from the case books, approximately A4-sized books each containing between about  800 and 950 pages.  From volume 25 onwards, there is a two page pro forma to be completed for each patient where the physical and mental state of each patient on admission is recorded, as well as some basic biographical information. There are a further two pages assigned to each patient to note the progress of their case. If a patient was in for a long time, extra pages were allocated further on in the volume, and sometimes on into several volumes. Prior to 1840, case notes were not kept; from the 1930s onwards, the modern system of individual folder-based case notes was introduced.

Page 2 of a patient entry in a case book, with description of mental and physical state (LHB7/51/66)
Almost all of the case books between 1874 and 1894 (ref: LHB7/51/25-61), and a few earlier ones, have now been added to the database and this translates to 5,784 entries in the database. For each patient, their name, age, occupation and diagnosis are all recorded, as well as dates of admission and discharge or death. The occupations listed reveal the wide range of people who received treatment at the Hospital: a Lieutenant in the Bengal Cavalry, housewives, tailors, drapers, medical practitioners, blacksmiths, domestic servants, governesses, teachers, railway porters, seamen, a conjurer, hawkers, students, millworkers, dressmakers, nurses, foresters, publicans and a Baptist minister…a multitude of skills which the Hospital put to good use in its early forms of occupational therapy.

Page 1 of a patient entry in a case book, with biographical info, including occupation (LHB7/51/66)
Over 11 volunteers have worked on the project so far, and we’d like to extend our thanks to all of them for their hard work, palaeography and detective skills! 

There are over 80 volumes left to be entered into the database – if you’d like to volunteer to work on the project, please contact our Student Support Officer, Serena Fredrick,