NHS Grampian Archives

NHS Grampian Archives hold the historic records of more than 100 hospitals & health organisations from across Grampian. Email: [email protected]

The records held by NHS Grampian Archives cover the period from 1739, when the Infirmary at Aberdeen was founded, to the late 20th century. NHS Grampian possesses the most complete archival records for an NHS body and its predecessors, covering one of the longest time spans that can be found in the British Isles, excepting only Dublin, London and York. Most of the records from the 18th and 19th ce

Operating as usual

30/08/2021

As so often happens, I was looking for something else and found this plan of Aberdeen Royal Lunatic Asylum from 1857 in the annual reports. It shows the layout of the hospital as it was then, with the various day rooms, billiard rooms, and airing yards.

You can also see how it compares to how the hospital is shown on the 1867 Ordnance Survey plan of Aberdeen, viewable at https://maps.nls.uk/view/74414877 on the brilliant National Library of Scotland maps website. Prepare to lose days lost in old maps!

As so often happens, I was looking for something else and found this plan of Aberdeen Royal Lunatic Asylum from 1857 in the annual reports. It shows the layout of the hospital as it was then, with the various day rooms, billiard rooms, and airing yards.

You can also see how it compares to how the hospital is shown on the 1867 Ordnance Survey plan of Aberdeen, viewable at https://maps.nls.uk/view/74414877 on the brilliant National Library of Scotland maps website. Prepare to lose days lost in old maps!

Guides and Indexes | Special Collections | The University of Aberdeen 05/08/2021

Guides and Indexes | Special Collections | The University of Aberdeen

While updating the new index for admissions to Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum, I have also added a new one for admissions to the Royal Aberdeen Hospital for Sick Children from 1877 - 1900. I'm hoping to continue to add more, so bookmark the page and keep checking back!

Guides and Indexes | Special Collections | The University of Aberdeen This page shows the various guides and indexes available for NHS Grampian Archives.

Guides and Indexes | Special Collections | The University of Aberdeen 04/08/2021

Guides and Indexes | Special Collections | The University of Aberdeen

📢Announcement!📢

A new index has been published of admissions to Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum from 1800 - 1899. They can be found along with indexes to Banff District Asylum (Ladysbridge) and Aberdeen District Asylum (Kingseat) at https://bit.ly/3Aebwxp

Guides and Indexes | Special Collections | The University of Aberdeen This page shows the various guides and indexes available for NHS Grampian Archives.

19/07/2021

There aren't many objects in the archive collection, but one which definitely wouldn't be given out today as a memento is this lighter, from Foresterhill College. Inscribed with the date 27th October 1967, it is an 'electronic Trigers lighter'. Changed days!

There aren't many objects in the archive collection, but one which definitely wouldn't be given out today as a memento is this lighter, from Foresterhill College. Inscribed with the date 27th October 1967, it is an 'electronic Trigers lighter'. Changed days!

14/06/2021

With the weather beginning to look a bit more like summer, here's an image of patients on the verandahs at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen from the 1927 annual report taking in some sun treatment. Remember to wear your sun cream!

With the weather beginning to look a bit more like summer, here's an image of patients on the verandahs at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen from the 1927 annual report taking in some sun treatment. Remember to wear your sun cream!

Photos from NHS Grampian Archives's post 20/05/2021

Those of you who are into archive catalogues may have noticed a gap in the case notes (series reference GRHB 2/4) for what's now Royal Cornhill Hospital, originally Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum. In the list, the case notes are numbered from volume 1 to volume 3 (covering the period 1821 to 1833), then from number 7 (beginning in 1841) - why aren't 4, 5 and 6 there, I hear you cry?

When the records were listed in the early 1980s, volumes 4, 5 and 6 were recorded, covering from 1833 to 1840, but they didn't make it along with the other records when the records were moved into Woolmanhill Hospital, and a gap on the shelf was even left for them when the collections moved into the Museums and Special Collections, University of Aberdeen in 2013. They remain on the paper catalogue listing, but don't appear on the online catalogue as they have been classed as "wanting" for over 30 years. Until now...

I received an email from Dorothy Sim, daughter of the late Dr Sandy Innes, who was Physician Superintendent at the hospital and worked there from the 1950s until his retirement in 1989, saying that he had saved some ledgers documenting admissions from the 1840s, and would I like them. At this point, I had no idea that these were the three "wanting" volumes, and it wasn't until Dorothy described them further - and sent a photo of them - that it became clear what treasures these were.

Dr Innes had found the volumes in a skip at some point in the 1980s, along with another one which hadn't made it onto the original list of records which turns out to be the first volume of case notes and dates from 1814. So not only is the gap on the shelf now filled, the catalogue will be amended to include volume 1a.

I can't thank Dorothy and her family enough for returning the records, as so often they would have been disposed of over the years. She also deposited some lovely scrapbooks of news cuttings and photographs of staff and events which took place at Royal Cornhill Hospital from the 1950s to the 1980s, so they'll also be added to the catalogue in due course.

It is such a pleasure to be able to complete a collection, and also add to it as well. While newer records might be added, it's very rare for older records to still be found so my wee archive heart is overjoyed!

05/05/2021

Today is International Day of the Midwife, and while qualified midwives have been appointed in Aberdeen since 1892, they have of course been around for a lot longer than that! The history of formal maternity care in the north east is really interesting, as it wasn't until the late nineteenth century that women were able to give birth in a dedicated maternity setting.

Aberdeen Maternity Hospital grew out of Aberdeen General Dispensary, itself an offshoot of the Infirmary. The Dispensary was founded in 1781 and was independent by 1786. By 1800 there were three dispensaries in Aberdeen which combined, in 1823, to form the Aberdeen General Dispensary, Vaccine, and Lying-In Institution.
In 1870 the Dispensary bought two houses in the Guestrow - one to serve as a maternity unit, although qualified midwives were not appointed until 1892. The Lying-In Institution moved to Barrett's Close in 1893 and in 1900 the Bank of Scotland offices in Castle Street were bought and converted into the Maternity Hospital. This was originally at 35 Castle Street, but was later re-numbered as 6 Castle Terrace from 1906. If you see a birth certificate from after 1905 with 6 Castle Terrace as the address, this was the Maternity Hospital, and not the Sick Children’s Hospital, which was next door at 10-12 Castle Terrace, having previously been number 6!

The hospital grew in importance and finally won its independence in 1912, when it gained its own Board of Directors. In 1919 a pre-natal department was added by the Town Council as part of their Mother and Child Welfare work.

The hospital was a late participant in the Joint Hospitals Scheme - not least because of its lack of funds. However, the Infirmary and the University of Aberdeen who jointly owned most of the Feresterhill site, gifted land to the Maternity Hospital and building started in 1934. The new hospital was opened in 1937 with 32 beds at a cost of £52,000. Eight more beds were added in 1939. In 1941 the ante-natal hospital was added at the expense of the Corporation of Aberdeen and the County Councils of Aberdeen and Kincardine.

In 1948 the Maternity, like the other hospitals on the Foresterhill site, was taken over by the National Health Service. It is now part of further redevelopment on the site, and will move to new premises in the The Baird Family Hospital.

Today is International Day of the Midwife, and while qualified midwives have been appointed in Aberdeen since 1892, they have of course been around for a lot longer than that! The history of formal maternity care in the north east is really interesting, as it wasn't until the late nineteenth century that women were able to give birth in a dedicated maternity setting.

Aberdeen Maternity Hospital grew out of Aberdeen General Dispensary, itself an offshoot of the Infirmary. The Dispensary was founded in 1781 and was independent by 1786. By 1800 there were three dispensaries in Aberdeen which combined, in 1823, to form the Aberdeen General Dispensary, Vaccine, and Lying-In Institution.
In 1870 the Dispensary bought two houses in the Guestrow - one to serve as a maternity unit, although qualified midwives were not appointed until 1892. The Lying-In Institution moved to Barrett's Close in 1893 and in 1900 the Bank of Scotland offices in Castle Street were bought and converted into the Maternity Hospital. This was originally at 35 Castle Street, but was later re-numbered as 6 Castle Terrace from 1906. If you see a birth certificate from after 1905 with 6 Castle Terrace as the address, this was the Maternity Hospital, and not the Sick Children’s Hospital, which was next door at 10-12 Castle Terrace, having previously been number 6!

The hospital grew in importance and finally won its independence in 1912, when it gained its own Board of Directors. In 1919 a pre-natal department was added by the Town Council as part of their Mother and Child Welfare work.

The hospital was a late participant in the Joint Hospitals Scheme - not least because of its lack of funds. However, the Infirmary and the University of Aberdeen who jointly owned most of the Feresterhill site, gifted land to the Maternity Hospital and building started in 1934. The new hospital was opened in 1937 with 32 beds at a cost of £52,000. Eight more beds were added in 1939. In 1941 the ante-natal hospital was added at the expense of the Corporation of Aberdeen and the County Councils of Aberdeen and Kincardine.

In 1948 the Maternity, like the other hospitals on the Foresterhill site, was taken over by the National Health Service. It is now part of further redevelopment on the site, and will move to new premises in the The Baird Family Hospital.

16/04/2021

Both the run up to, and the months following the Battle of Culloden, which took place on 16th April 1746 can be described as a tumultuous period in Aberdeen's history, and a brief glimpse of this can be found in the minutes for Aberdeen Infirmary.

This image shows an entry explaining what happened to the Infirmary, and begins by describing how, on the Wednesday after Michaelmas 1745, a party of rebels from Strathbogie led by John Hamilton put a stop to the election of magistrates in Aberdeen, which meant there could be no election of new Directors for the Infirmary. It goes on to say that about the end of December 1745, the rebels, having turned all things into confusion after the affair at Inverurie, possessed themselves of the Infirmary, putting not only their own wounded men, but also some of the McLeods who they had taken prisoner.

By the beginning of March 1746, however, things had changed. The entry states that after His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland had come to Aberdeen with the army under his command in quest of the rebels, some of his sick soldiers were put into the Infirmary, and until the middle of August the Infirmary was used as a hospital for the army, meaning that the old Infirmary Directors were not able to act as they formerly been able to, even after they had been chosen anew, following an act passed by the Town Council at the beginning of July 1746. Once the Duke of Cumberland's soldiers were removed from the Infirmary, the Directors were able to act and set the hospital on its former footing.

You can find out more about the Jacobites in Aberdeen, and some of the key locations in this leaflet -https://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2020-09/Jacobite%20Trail.pdf

Both the run up to, and the months following the Battle of Culloden, which took place on 16th April 1746 can be described as a tumultuous period in Aberdeen's history, and a brief glimpse of this can be found in the minutes for Aberdeen Infirmary.

This image shows an entry explaining what happened to the Infirmary, and begins by describing how, on the Wednesday after Michaelmas 1745, a party of rebels from Strathbogie led by John Hamilton put a stop to the election of magistrates in Aberdeen, which meant there could be no election of new Directors for the Infirmary. It goes on to say that about the end of December 1745, the rebels, having turned all things into confusion after the affair at Inverurie, possessed themselves of the Infirmary, putting not only their own wounded men, but also some of the McLeods who they had taken prisoner.

By the beginning of March 1746, however, things had changed. The entry states that after His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland had come to Aberdeen with the army under his command in quest of the rebels, some of his sick soldiers were put into the Infirmary, and until the middle of August the Infirmary was used as a hospital for the army, meaning that the old Infirmary Directors were not able to act as they formerly been able to, even after they had been chosen anew, following an act passed by the Town Council at the beginning of July 1746. Once the Duke of Cumberland's soldiers were removed from the Infirmary, the Directors were able to act and set the hospital on its former footing.

You can find out more about the Jacobites in Aberdeen, and some of the key locations in this leaflet -https://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2020-09/Jacobite%20Trail.pdf

09/04/2021

NHS Grampian chief executive, Professor Caroline Hiscox has issued the following statement:

"It is with great sorrow that we have learned of the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

"On behalf of our staff and patients, we’d like to extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.

“At this time, in addition to sharing a profound sense of loss, many of us are also recalling with fondness the times we have welcomed His Royal Highness to our sites.

“We are honoured to have received such support from him and will treasure those memories with renewed warmth and affection as we join the nation in mourning over the days to come.”

23/03/2021

It's fair to say we've all learned a lot over the last year in a way that none of us could have predicted. Today marks a year since the UK's first lockdown as a result of the global pandemic, and is a good opportunity to reflect on what has happened.

I'm hopeful I'll be able to be back among the collections soon, and begin answering your enquiries, as I know some of you have been waiting a long time. The good thing about archives, however, is that they don't go anywhere! Thank you for your patience and understanding over the last year, and here's looking to a brighter future.

It's fair to say we've all learned a lot over the last year in a way that none of us could have predicted. Today marks a year since the UK's first lockdown as a result of the global pandemic, and is a good opportunity to reflect on what has happened.

I'm hopeful I'll be able to be back among the collections soon, and begin answering your enquiries, as I know some of you have been waiting a long time. The good thing about archives, however, is that they don't go anywhere! Thank you for your patience and understanding over the last year, and here's looking to a brighter future.

08/02/2021

While there's no access to the collections at the moment, there's still a lot of research which can be carried out at home. I gave a talk as part of the Scottish Indexes online conference last week on how medical records can help with your family history search, and mentioned the records of Kincardineshire Combination Poorhouse (later Woodcot Hospital) in Stonehaven. While the register survives, there's no online access to it but...you can search indexes to the surviving registers of poor relief which are held by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives! They have been made available online by the Aberdeen & North-East Scotland Family History Society, and are an excellent resource. Please note the search is only an index, and doesn’t provide access to the original records. Search the index at http://www.anesfhs.org.uk/databank/plindex/plindex.php

Poor relief was administered in Scotland by parochial boards following the 1845 Poor Law (Scotland) Act, and these records are often held by local authority archives. The registers of poorhouses which provided a hospital function, and which later fell under the National Health Service from 1948 can sometimes be found within NHS archives, though their survival is patchy. In the north east of Scotland, the poorhouse registers survive for Kincardineshire Combination Poorhouse from 1867 and Buchan Combination Poorhouse (later Maud Hospital) from 1912. Registers for the ‘lunatic wards’ at Kincardineshire and Buchan also survive, both from 1869. No registers survive for the two poorhouses in Aberdeen City – St Nicholas and Oldmachar, though there are some records for the poorhouse at Oldmill (now Woodend Hospital) from 1937.

While there's no access to the collections at the moment, there's still a lot of research which can be carried out at home. I gave a talk as part of the Scottish Indexes online conference last week on how medical records can help with your family history search, and mentioned the records of Kincardineshire Combination Poorhouse (later Woodcot Hospital) in Stonehaven. While the register survives, there's no online access to it but...you can search indexes to the surviving registers of poor relief which are held by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives! They have been made available online by the Aberdeen & North-East Scotland Family History Society, and are an excellent resource. Please note the search is only an index, and doesn’t provide access to the original records. Search the index at http://www.anesfhs.org.uk/databank/plindex/plindex.php

Poor relief was administered in Scotland by parochial boards following the 1845 Poor Law (Scotland) Act, and these records are often held by local authority archives. The registers of poorhouses which provided a hospital function, and which later fell under the National Health Service from 1948 can sometimes be found within NHS archives, though their survival is patchy. In the north east of Scotland, the poorhouse registers survive for Kincardineshire Combination Poorhouse from 1867 and Buchan Combination Poorhouse (later Maud Hospital) from 1912. Registers for the ‘lunatic wards’ at Kincardineshire and Buchan also survive, both from 1869. No registers survive for the two poorhouses in Aberdeen City – St Nicholas and Oldmachar, though there are some records for the poorhouse at Oldmill (now Woodend Hospital) from 1937.

Our Story

NHS Grampian Archives hold the historic records of more than 100 hospitals and health organisations from across the Grampian region. These cover the period from 1739, when the Infirmary at Aberdeen was founded, to the late 20th century. NHS Grampian possesses the most complete archival records for an NHS body and its predecessors, covering one of the longest time spans that can be found in the British Isles, excepting only Dublin, London and York.

Most of the records from the 18th and 19th centuries are of hospitals: general and specialist hospitals, cottage hospitals and asylums. These collections have information on the administrative and financial affairs of the hospitals and on individuals who were patients, staff or managers.

There is also information on members of the general public who contributed to local hospitals in the time before the National Health Service by means of annual subscriptions, donations or legacies. As some of the capital of the larger hospitals was tied up in land, estate papers are also to be found among some hospital records. In addition, there are records from three local poorhouses which in 1948 became hospitals in the newly-formed NHS.

Material from the 20th century includes both hospital collections and the records of a range of local health organisation. Amongst the latter are the minutes of the local National Insurance Committees set up under the 1911 National Health Insurance Act and the records of the various NHS administrative bodies, i.e. the North Eastern Regional Hospital Board (1948-1974) and its constituent Boards of Management, local Executive Councils and, from 1974, Grampian Health Board, now NHS Grampian. Also contained in the archives are records of local authority health departments which, prior to 1974, had responsibility for a range of healthcare services including prevention of epidemics, mother and child welfare, and school medical services.

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Special Collections Centre, Sir Duncan Rice Library
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