Major Special Collections project completed

Special Collections is celebrating the completion of a Wellcome Trust-funded project to catalogue the University's medical archives.

Louise Piffero, Archivist (Medical Collections), with some of the catalogued items

Louise Piffero, Archivist (Medical Collections), with some of the University's medical collections that have been catalogued, as part of a 30-month project May 2018

All the new catalogues are available online, and the historic materials themselves can now be accessed by all in the Special Collections Reading Room.

The two-and-a-half-year project has involved cataloguing 13 archive collections, repackaging hundreds of boxes and digitising 65 manuscripts, while a number of the precious items have undergone conservation treatment.

It was all made possible thanks to a Wellcome Trust grant of £148,505, part of its Research Resources funding scheme, as well as the hard work of the University’s Special Collections team, its volunteers and interns.

Joanne Fitton, Head of Special Collections, said: “We are delighted the fantastic resources, produced as part of this Wellcome Trust-funded project, have made our medical collections accessible to University staff, students and members of the public.”

Leeds has been at the forefront of many advances in clinical practice for more than 250 years, and the medical archives that have been catalogued reflect this rich history.

Included in the project are:

  • the Leeds School of Medicine Archive, with records dating from its creation in 1831 up to the present day
  • the Department of Public Health Medicine collection, containing the records of the Health Visitor Training Course delivered by the department from the 1920s to 1989
  • our nursing collections, including a series of 32 Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) Nurse Training Registers (1856-1956) together with the Dame Kathleen Raven Archive – Raven was an influential LGI nurse and matron, who went on to become Chief Nursing Officer
  • the archives of two leading surgeons – Leslie Pyrah and Frank Maudsley Parsons – that reveal the history of Leeds as a centre for innovation in the fields of renal medicine and urology. Pyrah became director of the Medical Research Council Unit in Leeds and set up the first artificial kidney unit in the UK at the LGI. Parsons was head of the unit and performed the first kidney dialysis at the Infirmary in 1956.
  • Casebooks and papers of a number of individual surgeons, many of which have also been digitised. These include William Hey (1736-1819), Sir Berkeley G A Moynihan (1865-1936) and Arthur Fergusson McGill (1846-1890). The papers of Thomas Scattergood (1826-1900), who was the first Dean of the Yorkshire College of Science Medical Department and a forensic toxicologist, have also been catalogued.
  • The Bragg Family Collection contains the notebook of Sir William Henry Bragg and his son, Sir (William) Lawrence Bragg, detailing experiments made in connection with research on X-rays and the molecular structure of crystals at Leeds in 1913. They were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1915.
  • The Leeds General Cemetery Company Archive, which consists of the administrative and burial records for the cemetery, dating from its opening in 1835 until its closure in the 1960s. The 25 burial registers have been digitised and transcribed, and are accessible to search via the Leeds General Cemetery Burial Registers Index.

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