Health Services encourages students to get tested for STIs

Student Health Services encourages students to “Get Yourself Tested” and participate in sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. Illinois State students have the opportunity year-round to get tested for various types of STIs. 
It is important to practice safe sex; however, those that engage in sexual activity must remember to get themselves tested for their safety, and also to keep others safe as well. Students are welcome to make appointments with or without providers for STI testing. Your test will be confidential, and your results will be sent to you by secure message. Appointments can be made through our secure portal or by calling our appointment desk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year in the United States, half among young people ages 15–24, and some people have no symptoms. The importance of recognizing if you have an STI will help you determine your course of treatment and decrease long-term health issues that are related to untreated STIs.

Student Health Services summer options

Although the spring semester will be coming to an end in May, the services that are provided at the Student Health clinic will continue through the summer months.  Students that are sticking around campus for the summer may still utilize the clinic for all healthcare needs.  Below are the summer hours for the clinic, pharmacy and student health insurance.
  • Summer Clinic hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday
  • Summer pharmacy hours: 8 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday
  • Summer student health insurance hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday
The same services are still provided to students during the summer months which include: primary care, sexual healthcare, nutrition consultation, psychiatry services, x-ray, lab, immunizations and more.
Students that are registered for the summer will have already been assessed the health service fee, and for at least six credit hours assessed the student health insurance fee as part of their student services fee.  Those who are not registered for classes over the summer,  may still utilize student health services by paying a small fee of $100.  Each visit will require an additional $10 door fee; however, most of the services will be provided to you in that small door fee.  Those services that require additional payment may be submitted to your student health insurance or primary insurance.
For those students that would like to take part in the summer student health insurance, and are not registered for 6 or more hours, may purchase the summer student health insurance for $175.  This will cover your health insurance through the summer months which includes while you are away on vacation.

A preview of our latest HIV/AIDS accession

As I am coming to the end of the Wellcome Trust funded project to catalogue LHSA’s UNESCO recognised HIV/AIDS collections, I thought I would provide a peek at one of our latest HIV/AIDS accession. In the last few days of the project, I have been pulling everything together and managed to spend some time on the Waverley Care accession (Acc14/028). This collection was donated to LHSA last year after connections were made between the charity, my predecessor Karyn and Project Conservator Emily. It’s great when working connections can be established between archives and potential donors because we can provide help and advice, with what materials are suitable for long-term preservation, storage and access, whilst enriching our own collections and research resources.

We have already been able to share with you some of the unique and important items from our HIV/AIDS collections, particularly from the vibrant Take Care Campaign. But through sharing some of the items from our other HIV/AIDS collections, we can reflect on the work of many charities, support networks and campaigns that were set up in Edinburgh (and beyond), during the outbreak. They would often work together to take on the epidemic and provided education and support for sufferers, as well as the wider general public. Services provided by charities, such as Waverley Care, provided (and are still providing) excellent support to people living with HIV and Hepatitis C and also work hard to raise awareness, in order to try and prevent new infections.

From the collection we can gain an insight into the foundations of Waverley Care, established in 1989. It was during this period that Edinburgh was labelled the ‘AIDS capital of Europe’, with the highest infection rate throughout the whole of the UK. The region was at the forefront of the battle against the spread of the virus so services like Waverley Care were set up in response. The charity went on to develop the UK’s first purpose build hospice for people living with HIV, Milestone House. This transformed into an intensive residential support unit and a community support service for people living with HIV or Hepatitis C.

The collection also has papers relating to another one of its earlier projects, Solas. This was a community-based support and information centre that like many other Edinburgh based campaigns, aimed to reduce public fears about HIV/AIDS. Instead of prevailing an atmosphere of doom and gloom, Solas wanted to be seen as a source of positivity, to help inspire and strengthen a support and education network.  

This positive approach can also be seen in the promotional activity of Waverley Care. Here are a selection of their postcards that were produced to promote their messages of strength, support, education and understanding.


Finally, the charity also takes part in World AIDS Day which still provides an opportunity for the world to unite in the fight against HIV, and commemorate those who have died from the disease. Below is a tartan ‘Red Ribbon’ which became Waverley Care’s symbolic image and highlights the unified stance against HIV/AIDS.

For more information on Waverley Care and the current work of the charity, please visit

Caution: Patients at work!

This week’s blog focusses on the slightly unusual practice of patients doing work in hospital premises, sometimes to help with the running or funding of the establishment. In the majority of cases these were patients who had either mental illness or chronic physical illness, but still who had a good enough measure of health and strength to do work with adequate support and rest.

To prevent the spread of tuberculosis in Edinburgh and allow for the treatment and rehabilitation of sufferers, the ‘Edinburgh Scheme’ was put into action during the early 20th century. For the Scheme the majority of patients were treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH), the most serious cases were sent to the City Hospital in Colinton Mains and patients who were recovering were sent to Polton Farm Colony which was linked with the RVH in 1910.  As the patients’ condition improved they became able to do limited amounts of exercise, although they remained infectious, and as part of their rehabilitation were put to work at a variety of tasks on and around the Colony grounds. Photographic evidence shows that the patients were involved in such activities as growing seed potatoes and flowers, tending to pigs, woodcutting, gardening and road building. The image shows patients at work around the main building and was published in the Report on the Evolution and Development of Public Health Administration in the City of Edinburgh 1865-1919 (LHB16/2/1).

Another establishment where patients were regularly encouraged to do gainful employment was the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Being directed to do practical tasks has often been used as 'occupational therapy', even though the term may not have been used in earlier eras. There are examples of patients mentioned in the casebooks in the 19thcentury who were formerly tailors by trade and continued to make clothing during their stay in hospital. LHSA also holds a number of photographs from the 1960s and 1970s showing patients at work. Types of duties recorded include poultry farming, woodwork, pottery making and production line work on children’s toys. It is not always clear, however which tasks were used to earn income and which were purely therapeutic. The image shows a patient adding finishing touches to a wooden rocking horse during the 1960s.
A patient decorates a rocking horse in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital during the 1960s (P/PL7/P/043)

Volunteers' Views

This week, Archivist Louise has been asking some of LHSA’s dedicated Royal Edinburgh Hospital casebook indexing volunteers for their personal view on some of the stories that they have encountered during their time with us:

LHSA’s Royal Edinburgh Hospital institutional records (LHB7) undoubtedly make up our most requested collection (although it’s not our biggest), and within that the casebooks that we ask our volunteers to index are enduringly popular with academic researchers and genealogists alike. There’s rarely a time when all the casebook volumes are on the store shelves, whether that’s because I’m researching a family history enquiry with them, they’re being used in seminar teaching or archive tours or a postgraduate student is carrying out their research around them. We have 121 case books in all, dating from 1840 to 1932 (after which cases were recorded on loose-leaf sheets housed in individual folders.)

A rare view of a full shelf of Royal Edinburgh Hospital casebooks (LHB7/51)

Laura, our previous Archivist, had the bright idea to start a project for volunteers to index the casebooks in an access database, recording key details such as the name of each patient, length of treatment, diagnosis and biographical details like occupation and age. Not only has the database provided a key finding aid for individuals in genealogical searches, but it also collates fascinating statistical data across the thousands of patients whose details have been recorded so far (at the end of this week, we’re approaching 10, 800 entries).

So that’s why indexing the casebooks is good for us – but it’s also good for volunteers, giving an introduction into what sort of records that we keep, experience of an archive environment key to entry for vocational qualifications, knowledge of how to handle valuable and unique material and of course all-important skills in deciphering handwriting (essential if you want to work with unpublished documents, which make up the majority of most archival collections.)

A view inside one of the casebooks from 1901 - 1902 (LHB7/51/79)

At the moment, we have four volunteers working on indexing the cases – Fiona Mossman, Aidan Hurst, Arianna Shorey and Catriona Colquhoun – and I’ve asked them to tell me a little more about their impressions of the casebooks and volunteering with us. Because Catriona only started her indexing this week, I didn’t think it was fair to ask her to give her impressions after day one!
For Aidan, volunteering with us has been the first step to exploring a career in archives:
“I started volunteering at LHSA in the middle of November 2014. My first task was to help transcribe a register of the outdoor blind as part of a Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) Scotland project supported by LHSA. I have greatly enjoyed volunteering at LHSA so far – the staff here have been very friendly and welcoming and I feel like I have learned a lot.”

In fact, we learnt today that Aidan has been successful in obtaining a conditional place on the MSc in Information Management and Preservation at the University of Glasgow this Autumn to take his experience in archives to the next level. Congratulations, Aidan!

Aidan busy in the office
Quite a few of our volunteers in the Centre for Research Collections are University of Edinburgh students, wanting to find out about different careers. Both Arianna Shorey and Fiona Mossman started to volunteer more regularly with us after being involved in one of our Volunteer Taster Days, where you can come in to LHSA for a day (whether you’re a University of Edinburgh student or not) and find out a bit more about the archives that we hold and how we work with them. There’s no obligation at all to come back to us, but we find that quite a few people do (it must be the free LHSA pencils!). Arianna is a studying Chinese Studies as a postgraduate, and has enjoyed both the palaeographic challenges and societal insights that these casebooks hold:

“I enjoy the process of indexing the old records and trying to decipher the beautiful cursive script. It is challenging, very similar in a way to a puzzle, but also very rewarding. One of the most interesting things to record is the occupations of the patients. Occasionally, I will come across an unusual occupation, like bookbinder, one that seems to transcend time, like poet, or one that is just so characteristic of the time period the record is coming from, like a cab driver or mattress maker. Little indications of major historical events recorded in the casebooks often catch my attention too, like the acknowledgement of the passing of a new year by decorating a page of the casebook, particularly 1900, or a gradual change in diagnoses, occupation and even names. By far the best thing about the project is the unpredictable nature of the information. Although the type of information you are looking for stays the same, each record, and often, author are different and completely unpredictable.”

Graphic art marking the end of 1899 in one of the casebooks (LHB7/51/75)

Arianna has been brave enough to tackle a more challenging aspect of the indexing as well – looking through earlier volumes that are not structured by a form, but with key data hidden inside paragraphs of physicians’ often idiosyncratic handwriting.

Fiona joined us last September, partly to compliment her undergraduate studies, but also as a step towards gaining her Edinburgh Award, a programme that recognises students’ extra-curricular experience (such as volunteering) by encouraging them to measure the benefits that they have gained:

“Indexing some of the casebooks has given me a taste of what happens in archives while fitting in with the rest of my studies. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the handwriting. There was also much to learn from the point of view of the history of the project, which is a record of mental health patients in Edinburgh from the 1840s until the 1930s. Familiar Edinburgh landmarks and the interesting titbits of information about patients – the delusions of being royalty, or of electrical equipment that could read thoughts – situated the patients more firmly for me. Some case-notes are very sad, as in the case of people suffering from the deaths of loved ones, from overwork or accidents, from rape or abuse to congenital diseases. Working on this project can give an insight into the lives of doctors and patients in Edinburgh over a hundred years ago, and has also helped to create a resource for those who want to research these casebooks for ancestors or for academic research.”

It’ll soon be Fiona’s last week with us, and she has shown great dedication to the project, having presented to us as part of her Edinburgh Award and even creating a guide to help future volunteers to get over the initial hurdles of indexing, such as deciphering names, handwriting and contractions of words, as well as translating the contemporary conventions of the casebooks like now unfamiliar occupations and psychiatric diagnoses.


Examples of some challenging handwriting and contractions used in the casebooks.

You can learn more about volunteering with LHSA here.

Popstars in the Archive

Closing into the final month working on the Wellcome Trust funded HIV/AIDS project at LHSA, I have been cataloguing GD22 - The Take Care Campaign. The Take Care Campaign began in the late 1980s in response to cases of HIV and AIDS in the Edinburgh and Lothian being four times the national average, affecting mainly young heterosexual people. The Campaign was intended to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst all members of the community and involved advertising, events, and education, which were often described as ‘ground-breaking’. The Campaign took a very direct, explicate and vibrant approach to get their message across. Straight to the point promotion of safe sex was disseminated which stressed the importance for everyone to ‘Take care of themselves and encourage others to take care’. 
So what was it about the Campaign’s promotional activities that made it so effective? I turned to the Take Care Campaign Report, 1988 – 1989 (GD22/4/1/2) for more details. The Report is really useful in providing a background to the HIV/AIDS problem in Edinburgh and the need for such a Campaign. It also provides a record of the promotional activities the Campaign used to get their message across. Some of the most innovative ideas included: turning a Lothian bus pink and decorating it in the Take Care message; a banner bearing the slogan, ‘Take Care of the one you love and AIDS concerns us all’ was displayed on the railings at the top of the Mound; and the Campaign promoted the first installation of condom machines in pubs, ‘discos’, and large workplaces.

However, after I had an all singing and dancing wedding weekend, Deacon Blues ‘Dignity’ being a party favourite, coming back to work on Monday morning was a treat when I came across a signed copy of a Deacon Blue vinyl within the collection. 
Signed Deacon Blue Vinyl 'Wages Day' (GD22/10/8)
Deacon Blue were an Edinburgh based band, having their main hits in the late 1980s but who also supported the Take Care Campaign. They featured in special concerts and participated in advertising the Take Care message. They were not the only ones though! James with their famous hit ‘Sit-down’ were also advocates of the Campaign, as well as Scottish band Simple Minds. Within the collection there are some great images that illustrate how the Campaign used contemporary pop-culture to connect with the audience in which it wished to target.
James postcard advertising the Take Care Campaign (GD22/14/4/6/12)

At Deacon Blue concerts 6700 postcards which pictured the band with the lead singer wearing a pink watch, with the Take Care message, were given to fans as their tickets were checked. According to the Campaign Report, ‘The cleaners were asked to set aside the cards which were left behind. These amounted to 133, indicating a very good initial retention rate’. Similarly at a Simple Minds concert at Meadowbank, Take Care posters were produced for the event and Take Care messages were flashed on electronic scoreboards during the event.   
Deacon Blue postcard advertising the Take Care Campaign, given out at their concert (GD22/14/4/6/15)

These were just some of the innovative ways that the Take Care Campaign effectively got such an important message across during a very threatening time to health in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Engaging with Education: Creating resources based on the HIV/AIDS collections.

Last week, I began a month long project to make the newly accessible HIV/AIDS collections (conserved and catalogued last year) more available to a larger and more diverse audience. The project is funded by the Wellcome Trust’s ‘Provision for Public Engagement’ scheme, which allows previously Wellcome Trust funded projects to apply for further funding to develop a strategy to encourage the public to use and engage with the material. Our project aims to create educational resources based on the HIV/AIDS collections and linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, focusing on the year groups S2 to S3. These resources will be uploaded on to a dedicated website and are for use by teachers and educational professionals.

Collage of postcards from the 'Take Care' Campaign
This is a short term project which hopes to achieve a lot. As such, there is a large group of people who are helping out. Firstly, the website is being created in house by the Interactive Content Team. They have come up with some great designs and ideas for the website based on the collection items. Next we have Iain Philips, who is on a short term secondment from John Lewis, thanks to a John Lewis Golden Jubilee Award. He will be working 2 days a week for the next 20 weeks at LHSA, and for his first month he will be making educational resources and helping with the promotion of the website. Clair Millar, Project Cataloguing Archivist, is also helping out on the project. She will be providing some historical context for the website, describing the problem of HIV/AIDS in Edinburgh and the Lothians in more detail, to give a background to the collections. Conservation volunteer, Colette Bush, will also be helping out on this project. Colette is starting a Master’s degree in Museum Studies and will also be making educational resources for the website. Finally, the LHSA team will help with checking the website for any errors or navigational problems, making this project a truly collaborative effort! 
Collage of Postcards made for World AIDS day
As I trained as a paper conservator, this project is a little bit out of my comfort zone. So I have been talking to teachers, youth workers and educational professionals to find out more about the curriculum and how to make educational resources. I first dipped my toes in to world of Education by attending a one-day workshop provided by the Scottish Council on Archives entitled “Understanding the Curriculum”. This gave a basic overview of the education system in Scotland (invaluable for someone like me who is from south of the border!) and gives an introduction on how to make educational resources based on archive material. I’ve also spoken with representatives from Education Scotland who gave useful information on teacher’s needs and timetables as well as giving insightful feedback on our resource drafts.  Edinburgh University’s Widening Participation team have also been very positive about the project and will help us advertise the website when it is completed to the local schools that they work with. We’ve also had a great response from Crew 2000, a charity that provides information, advice and support for young people on sexual health and drug use.  

Overall, the project has got off to a great start. The HIV/AIDS collections have huge education potential and there is loads of material to choose from to make engaging and informative resources. The website will be launched in May, so keep your eyes peeled for project updates in the coming months!

The early days of dietetics in Edinburgh...

It was observed in early hospitals that patients tended to get better more quickly if they were well nourished. It was also noted that patients with certain illnesses sometimes needed more of particular foods while others could not tolerate some foods at all.
According to the British Dietetic Association website, the earliest dietary observations were at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1687 and the first recorded therapeutic diet was at Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford in 1837. It was not until the late 19th century and early 20th century, however that the science of dietetics was developed, first in the United States of America. In 1920 a report was commissioned by the Board of Managers of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) to investigate dietetic arrangements and the Dietetic Department opened in 1924, the first hospital known to have developed such a department. Sister Ruth Pybus was appointed dietician and obtained a Rockefeller Scholarship to study dietetics in American hospitals. In 1928, the Rockefeller Foundation also generously gave the hospital a grant towards the building of facilities for the Dietetic Department which included a metabolic unit, two wards, a diet kitchen and laboratory. The image shows the diet kitchen in 1950.

Staff working in the dietetic kitchen, ward 21 RIE, 1950 (P/PL1/S/395)
Much ingenuity was exercised in the creation of recipes in the early days. The ‘liver diet’ and the ‘spleen diet’ were created for patients with pernicious anaemia and great effort was made in producing bran wafers for diabetics, made from bran with the starch removed put into a jelly of agar-agar or carragheen moss. The consistency was described as being like fairy toast with the appearance of thin firelighters, but they were much in demand by patients! LHSA holds a set of tasty recipes from the Dietetic Department from the 1950s, which includes this one for chicken in jelly (LHB1/89/4/1).

Recipe for chicken in jelly, 1950s (LHB1/89/4/1)

References: The Growth and Development of the Dietetic Department: 4 The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh by Anna Buchan, International Journal of Food and Nutrition vol. VII, no. 2, Summer 1954.

British Dietetic Association website:

Just mess-ing around...

In this week's blog, Archivist Louise has been looking at a hidden side of hospital life...

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the records that we hold for hospital staff are considerably less detailed than most of those that we have for patients. We can often say that someone was a nurse, doctor or a member of non-medical staff at a particular time, but can provide few other details than that. Although sometimes photographs, monographs and nurse training records can fill some gaps, it can be hard to access individual personalities behind professional roles or to reconstruct the daily lives of hospital staff from archives alone.

However, for some periods and for some institutions, we have a little more to build up a picture of life off the wards. One example that I’ve become intrigued by is the section of our Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) collection from the Residents’ Mess. After graduating from their medical course, physicians had to complete a period of practice experience in a hospital, in whose grounds they lived as a House Officer for six months (before 1950 – although this then was amended to a full year of service). We have quite a range of records from those serving this medical apprenticeship, from the photographs of residents that appear fairly often on our website and social media, including our earliest featuring Joseph Lister…..

Our earliest photograph of RIE residents, 1854 (P/PLI/S/294)

… to lists of residents (charting the early careers of clinicians who would go on to change the course of Scottish medical history), rules, correspondence, financial records and ephemera.

Page from Rules Subscribed by Resident Physicians and Surgeons (1895-1928) from October 1921. Can you spot and famous names? (LHB1/114/1)

One set of records that stood out to me was the log books of the Residents’ Mess – what would a canteen log book be like, I wondered naively? In fact, a ‘Mess’ referred to each new intake of residents. Looking at the Residents’ Mess log book from 1914 to 1915, it is a curious document, recording the lighter side of clinical life with an entry for each day. There are in-jokes lost in the interceding years, nicknames, some decidedly savoury language and an almost daily recording of fines handed down to members of the Mess. Here is a more than typical (and relatively tame!) page:

Page from Log Book of Residents' Mess 1914 - 1915 (LHB1/115/4)

This loose page from an unknown volume mentions (amongst the obligatory sampling of wine for the mess dinner) a fancy dress parade, which seems to have dropped off, but was planned to be revived:

Page from undated Log Book of Residents' Mess, undated (LHB1/115/5)

The Mess Log from 1914 has more detail about the parade, which took place every Christmas Eve at 11pm from the Surgical Outpatients’ Department (SOPD), and lists in delightful detail the individual outfits of each member taking part, including the prize-winner, Dr W A Alexander, who cut a dash as a ‘ballet girl’. Dr Alexander was far from alone, since ‘there was a strong majority of ladies of all ages, nationalities and description from Little Red Riding Hood up to the fully developed butterflys [sic.]’.

Page mentioning the residents' outfits from the Log Book of the Residents' Mess 1914-1915  (LHB1/115/4)

If you’d like to put some faces to some of the names mentioned, here is the class of Winter 1914, with the fancy dress prize-winner in the centre front row:

RIE Residents, Winter 1914 (LHSA photographic collection)

And to prove that the parade was not an isolated occurrence, here's an early twentieth century image of residents in their finery:

Residents taking a break from their hospital white coats, early twentieth century (P/PL1/R/008)

The residents also produced a light-hearted magazine, the Infirmary Independent, of which we have the first (and perhaps only!) edition from 1913. It serialised stories, published satirical poems, and included outlines of out-of-work activities, including theatre and sports.


Cover and first page of The Infirmary Independent, 1913 (LHB1/115/12)
My favourite part of the magazine is ‘The Probationer’s Guide to Knowledge’ (a probationer is defined in the piece as a trainee – or in this case ‘trying’ – nurse) – but at least these young doctors seem to know their place before the ultimate earthly hospital authority, since they acknowledge that 'above [the probationers] are the assistant nurses, above them the sisters, above them the assistant-superintendents , above them the lady superintendent, above her, we believe, the Almighty.'

What we have left from the residents' off-duty life is at times funny, sometimes (to our twenty-first century ears) bordering on the (or actually) offensive, but reveals a world lost in time. This world was undoubtedly a privileged one, since residents had the advantage of an elite education and received no salaries from the RIE before the NHS, but would come to rely for their income on private practice.

Residents' event invitation sent to Dr W A Alexander, the fancy dress competition winner! (LHB1/115/7)
Although this world of Latin invitations and medical graduates dressing as ballet girls may justifiably invoke ire at the social inequalities of the early twentieth century, it must be read in the context of its time - perhaps as an outlet for people at the start of their careers with heavy expectations on their shoulders. Similarly, we can see these items with some relief that we have moved towards an era in which there is a narrower social gap between doctors and many of their patients.

And if you ever wondered what the Mess actually had for their dinner every night, we can tell you that as well:

Pages from book of residents' daily menus, 1918 - 1921 (LHB1/115/8) 
If you've been equally fascinated by the world of the RIE residency, you can read more in coming weeks, as we outline a theatrical visit to the fledgling doctors in our Every Picture Tells a Story feature. And this time, it's not the residents dressing up....



Making friends and influencing people (with the Scottish Council on Archives)

AKA Ruth provides an update on a recent Scottish Council on Archives development and its impact on LHSA...

Last week I went to a Scottish Council on Archives (SCA) event in which they introduced their brand new Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation status (SCIO). SCA provides leadership for the archives and records management sector in Scotland in a number of important ways (more information here) and we’ve worked closely with SCA for a few years now. We’ve certainly taken advantage of all the fabulous advocacy work SCA does for our sector - our most notable success was submitting a recipe for invalid fruit tart to their awareness raising campaign, ‘Edible Archive’, which made its way onto the 2012 Great British Bake Off!

More recently we were awarded Accredited Archive Status, a process which was supported by SCA, and we’ve been pumping their Education Development Officer for information to help with our new Wellcome Trust-funded public engagement project where we’ll be producing online resources for teachers. We’re also looking forward to Paul, Edinburgh University’s Skills for the Future Trainee, spending some time with us over the summer. He’s been based in the Centre for Research Collections since October last year as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant managed by SCA that aims to offer experience in the archive sector to six people each year for three years.

But what does SCA’s new SCIO status mean for us? Well, we’ll be hoping to carry on working with a great organisation, but now it will be as a member of it! Becoming a member is free, and if you’d like to join us in joining them, more information is available here:

The growth of the Department of Surgical Neurology

In 1960 a new Department of Surgical Neurology was opened at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh (WGH) under Professor Norman Dott. This new department brought together the facilities for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of surgical neurology patients that Dott had been working towards throughout his career. 
Image showing the new Department at Surgical Neurology at WGH (LHB11/7/2)
When he started out in the 1920s there were no dedicated facilities for surgical neurology patients and Dott worked in private practice, treating patients in rooms in a private nursing home and moving his surgical equipment across Edinburgh in a taxi. In 1931, Dott was appointed Associate Neurological Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) and was and given access to four post-operative beds for his patients in Wards 13 and 14 and use of the operating theatre. This was the beginning of the Department of Surgical Neurology at RIE, which was the first of its kind in Scotland.  This move was followed in 1936 with the allocation of Ward 20, which was located in the clock tower at RIE, to Dott to set up his own department. However it wasn’t until 1938 that the new department received its first patients, as the Ward had to be extended and made fit for purpose, this included adding an operating theatre (with a special steel elliptical lighting dome imported from Paris and a sound-proof viewing room which featured one-way glass for students to view operations), twenty beds, an ophthalmic room, staff-room and out-patient facilities. Further accommodation was made available to Dott and his team in 1939 at Bangour General Emergency Service Hospital at Broxburn in West Lothian, where he established the Brain Injuries Unit providing treatment to military and civilian cases. The Department of Surgical Neurology, now firmly established as a specialist unit, operated over two sites providing different services at each location throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Although the department was extended in the 1950s, the growing number of patients (in 1959/1960 Ward 20 dealt with 1,100 patients, performed 900 operations and saw 6,000 out-patients – still with only twenty beds) and the demands on the expertise of Dott and his team meant that more space was needed. A major contributing factor to the growth in patient numbers was the increase in head injuries sustained in road accidents due to the rise in car use.

Roof of operating theatre at Ward 20, RIE (P/PL1/B/l/080)

So, to the Western General were a six- storey block was built, at a cost of £500,000, to accommodate the expanded Department of Surgical Neurology.  The new building housed twin operating theatres; sixty beds; physiotherapy, hydrotherapyand occupational therapy rooms; and staff accommodation.  The theatres, which were specially designed by Norman Dott and described by fellow surgeons as ‘Utopian’, were an ovid shape designed to limit infection and had domed roofs which featured shadowless lamps.
Plan of operating theatre, WGH (LHB13/11/5)
Ward 20 at RIE became a specialist unit for head and spinal injuries and for out-patient services, while the new department at WGH was mainly for elective surgery, with patients transferring between the two sites. The sites were even more equipped to work together when, in 1962 a television link was set up. Norman Dott retired in 1963, but the department that he established continued to grow and lead the way in research and treatment, finally merging in 1986 with the Department of Medical Neurology to form the Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

Television link between Department of Surgical Neurology at WGH and Ward 20 at RIE (P/PL1/l/006)

More images relating to Norman Dott can now be viewed on the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN) by following this link:


The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (1929-1979), Catford, E F
A History of the Western General Hospital Edinburgh, Eastwood, M and Jenkinson, A

With Sharp Compassion: Norman Dott Freeman Surgeon of Edinburgh, Rush, Christopher and Shaw, John F


HIV/AIDS Project: After a short's back

After I had such a fantastic time as Archive Intern with LHSA towards the end of last year, I was delighted to make a return this time as Project Cataloguing Archivist, working to finish cataloguing the HIV/AIDS collection. From my time as an intern and reading Emily and Karyn’s blog posts about the project I had a fair idea about this great opportunity to work with such a modern collection. To recap, the HIV/AIDS collections at LHSA were inscribed to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in 2011 because of their importance in the context, of the study of the history of medicine.  The collections are rich in their documentation of a significant period for Edinburgh and Lothian, 1983 -2010, in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This was one of the most serious threats to public health towards the end of the twentieth century, not only in Scotland but throughout the UK.

In order to complete the cataloguing project, to provide maximum access to the HIV/AIDS collections for future research, I have been tasked with the following:

·         Completing cataloguing of GD25: Papers of Helen Zealley, Director of Public Health/Chief Administrative Medical Officer (CAMO).

·         Completing cataloguing of GD22: “Take Care” Campaign.

·         Cross-referencing photographs and objects from LHB45: Lothian Health Board AIDS Papers, into the photograph and objects database.

But! One of the first jobs I had was to finish preparing a collection of digitised images and posters, from various HIV/AIDS campaigns, for access via the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network [SCRAN]. Most of this work was already done but I was the lucky one who got to finish attaching metadata to the images and then hand delivering them to the SCRAN office based at Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland [RCAHMS]. It was great to get a behind the scenes look at how SCRAN actually delivers such an important educational resource. Working relationships between archives and online platforms, such as SCRAN, are so important to opening up unique and important parts of our history. The HIV/AIDS campaign images are now part of this online service providing access to thousands of images from archives, museums and galleries, representing Scotland’s past for mass leaning. Within a couple of days the images were up on the SCRAN website. Here is a taster of some of the images you can see just by following this link:

‘The one you love’ Take Care Campaign – GD22/PD1.4/115

‘Lovely Latex’ Take Care Campaign – GD22/PD1.4/58

‘World AIDS Day-Earth’ – GD22/PD1.4/81

Since then however, I have been cataloguing the Papers of Dr. Helen Zealley, Director of Public Health for NHS Lothian (previously Lothian Health Board(LHB)). The papers mainly consist of business/administrative papers including, reports/official documentation, correspondence, meeting minutes, and promotional material, relating to the running of LHB spanning an extensive period of time, c1975 – c2000. It has been really interesting to gain some perspective into the running of a major organisation from top level management. Taking responsibility for health services at this level is clearly going to be a challenging task. It is extraordinary to see how day-to-day issues, longer-term strategic planning, and also unforeseen threats to public health, are dealt with simultaneously.

One of the issues I have personally been tackling, in dealing with such a modern collection, is ensuring that appropriate Data Protection is placed on sensitive or confidential records. Opening up access to public records must be balanced by a legal requirement to protect sensitive, personal and confidential information under the Data Protection Act. Although this means that some of the records will be closed to public access, once all cataloguing and conservation work is complete there will still be an abundance of papers ready for further research and posterity. As well as a unique insight into the way in which LHB developed strategy and campaigns to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS in Lothian, the papers of Helen Zealley will expand exploration into other areas of public health that LHB was responsible for. This includes papers relating to the developments of health promotion in education and medical specialisms, such as sexual health, non-smoking policy and environmental health.  The collection also provides us with an overview of strategic planning and policy making at LHB, particularly at a time of financial crisis in the early 1990s and the implementation of cost-cutting measures.

I look forward to completing cataloguing GD25 and keeping you up-to-date with the rest of the project! 


Consolidate and Repair: The Conservation of Books

Since the beginning of January, I have started to work on the main collections at LHSA. Although the Wellcome Trust project to conserve the HIV/AIDS collections is almost complete, my contract has been extended until June, so you will be hearing more of tales from the conservation studio over the next few months! During this time, I will be carrying out a range of conservation treatments such as consolidation and repair of bound volumes, surface cleaning and tear repair of flat sheet material, cold storage of x-rays, as well as supervising volunteers and interns working on architectural plans. I am really looking forward to the challenges that working with such a wide range of materials will bring.

For this blog post, I thought I would focus on what I have been working on for the past few weeks; the conservation of bound volumes. A common problem for books in the LHSA collections is the occurrence of red rot. For those of you who don’t work in a library, red rot is a degradation process found on leather bound books. It is characterised by a powdery layer on the surface of the book which, as archivists know, gets absolutely everywhere.  It is also associated with the weakening of the material, so along with red rot, you often find torn leather and abraded edges.
Example of red rot found on books
Damage caused by red rot is irreversible. However, the spread of red rot can be retarded by treating the leather with a consolidant such as Klucel G in Industrial Methylated Spirit (IMS). First a museum vac with a low suction is used to remove the loose powdery material from the book. Then, a 2% solution is brushed on to areas affected by red rot and left to dry. Although this consolidates the powdery material, it doesn’t cure the leather of red rot, it will just prolong its life for longer. A slight darkening of the leather is sometimes caused by application of Klucel G, so often test areas are carried out prior to full application. Although discolouration of the leather is not ideal, it is sometimes better than doing nothing at all and allowing further damage to be caused to the book due to red rot.

Using a Museum Vac to remove powdery material
Using a brush to apply a 2% solution of Klucel G in IMS

In some full leather bound books, red rot can cover the whole surface. In these cases, I decided not to consolidate the volume as it is difficult to get an even coverage over the whole book without causing streaking. Instead, with the help of volunteers Collette and Alice, I made book covers to protect these books. We made these from 650gsm boxboard tied with cotton tape. This allows for covers to be made without the use of adhesives, which speeds up the construction of the covers and ensures that the book is not affected by any potential off-gassing from the adhesive. These covers not only contain all the red rot and stop it spreading, but also protect the books whilst they are on the shelf. Often damage is caused on the shelf as adjacent books can be scraped by the corners of the volumes being removed and replaced, resulting in tearing of the leather.
A full leather book rehoused in a book cover

Example of book with torn and delaminated leather

Another common problem in the LHSA collection is the detachment of boards and spines from bound volumes. This is usually found in books that are consulted frequently as the opening and closing actions causes these areas to weaken. To fix this, I used a couple of repair techniques taught to me by private book conservator, Caroline Scharfenberg, who also works at Edinburgh University. To secure loose and detached boards, I used a strip of fairly thick Japanese paper adhered to the inner spine joint with wheat starch paste. Although further work can be done, this provides a surprisingly strong repair and is suitable for the needs of the collection. If a spine has become detached, a new hollow can be made from archival paper to reattach it. A hollow is essentially a piece of paper that has been folded twice and glued together to create a tube. This is then affixed to the spine and the original cover material is glued to the hollow. When the book is opened, the hollow also opens allowing the spine to move naturally. These basic repair techniques will extend the life of the bound volumes significantly and prevent further damage occurring.
Book, before treatment with a detached spine

Book, after treatment with spine reattached using a hollow

The conservation of books is very different to the conservation of flat archival material that I am used to working with.  Although techniques are similar, the composite and 3D nature of the book provides new challenges to me as a paper conservator. I hope to learn more book repair techniques in the future.