Past Prescriptions

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London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital has always been known to me as the charity which, through the largess of Mr. James Matthew Barrie’s estate made massive amounts of money from a little known book called Peter Pan. Now however, an even more interesting connotation has appeared.

Much in the spirit of a recent post you may have read here about Victorian era Newspapers being made available to scholarship…the Great Ormond is making it’s pre-1914 medical records open to those with a reason to wish to research illness and health in that period.

The following information is reposted from The Guardian.

“Great Ormond Street children’s hospital today opened up more than half a century of its patient records, in a move it hopes will revolutionise historical research.

“The London hospital has digitised the details of more than 84,000 child patients treated between the day it first opened its doors in 1852 and 1914.

“The records, with details including names, addresses, ages, symptoms, and outcomes of sick children, are freely available on the Small and Special website, and are expected to vastly help medical historians and amateur family genealogists alike.

“The records have taken more than four years to transcribe with the help of volunteers from Kingston University’s local history centre in south London.

“‘We realised that the hospital had such a rich resource but it was difficult to access,’ said Sue Hawkins, the project manager. ‘You had to book an appointment at the hospital’s archive office and go through all the records until you found what you’re looking for. Now it’s all available from anywhere in the world and catalogued accordingly. It’s a unique resource.’

“Great Ormond Street was the first hospital to open for children requiring in-patient care and was established at a time when youngsters under 10 years old accounted for half of all deaths in the capital. Its success led to the foundation of similar children’s hospitals around the country.

By far the most common disease affecting Victorian children admitted to Great Ormond Street was tuberculosis, Ms Hawkins said. The disease affected not just the lungs but also the bones, particularly those of children who had drunk infected milk, as was not uncommon among poor families.

“Although Great Ormond Street doctors were not supposed to admit people carrying infectious diseases, many patients suffered from measles and scarlet fever, Ms Hawkins said. The records have also led researchers to believe that the hospital built up an expertise in operating on conditions such as cleft palate.

“Most patients were local, coming from nearby boroughs such as St Pancras, Islington, and Shoreditch, but 20% of patients were from outside London.

“The Small and Special project carries the full biographical records of patients up until 1907, after which date – due to patient confidentiality laws that protect the details for 100 years – the records are anonymous. The project workers are hoping similar projects will soon be set up at two more London children’s hospitals and two hospitals for children in Scotland. After that, they will look at expanding the research to general hospitals admitting adult patients.

“The £70,000 project was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, and Friends of the Children of Great Ormond Street.”

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3 Comments

  1. I adore that we’re living in an age where the past is becoming digitized–the next step in the desire to preserve. I think it’s a good trend.

    (Also, I don’t normally comment on the ‘recent Googlings’, but this…

    “serious” “jacket” “darkness”

    (…that just could not be passed up. Lord Bardhaven, owner of serious jacket darkness! Hee!

    (It’s making me giggle like a five year old.)

  2. I am rather fond of “History of Fellatio” myself….

  3. That it turns up you?

    Hee….


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