Putting the aaah into archives

2022 is an exciting year for the archives team at the RHN

We’ll be launching our outdoor and online exhibitions that will chart our history from 1854 to the present day, organising educational webinars and tours of the building relating to our past and current heritage, and running volunteer projects to improve the interpretation of our new archive catalogue. Most importantly, we’ll be updating you regularly with what’s going on via this monthly blog. So, stay tuned.

To put our archive holdings into perspective, did you know that we hold 25 linear metres of printed material? That’s 1.2 times the length of a cricket pitch, or 1.7 times the height of the Hollywood sign (if you’re a movie buff or vertical thinker). And we’re delighted to say that much of our material – over 15,000 pages – have now been digitised thanks to a generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

So, what does this mean? Well, it means that we have over 160 years of all areas of RHN administration at our fingertips.

Are you a historian researching the day-to-day running of the hospital? Our historical committee minutes and papers are available to provide a comprehensive insight into the health of patients, staff appointments, notable visits, and estate issues.

Are you an academic studying the evolution of the care and treatment of the “Victorian incurables”? Our historical medical case books may be of use as they record clinical notes, detailed case histories, and epidemiological information about our past patients.

Are you a researcher exploring healthcare institutions and historic accounts of life for patients and staff? Our fundraising appeals are freely available with letters written by the patients themselves, and contributions from famous supporters and celebrities.

Archive of the month

To tempt you with our enticing archives, we will be showcasing an item from our collections each month. This month, it is a letter from one of our most renowned contributors; Florence Nightingale, dated 10 September 1861.

In this letter, she advises our Secretary about the design of the new hospital raising questions about the ratio of female to male patients and about putting a patient with an aneurism of the aorta into the same ward as a patient with epilepsy. You will see that she seems to approve of the site of the hospital – pointing out that the gravelly soil is good, though it needs to be carefully drained and recommends that the hospital is well raised above the surrounding ground.

If you have any queries about our archive collections, RHN archivist Katherine Szentgyorgyi will be delighted to help. Please look out for further updates next month.

Florence Nightingale letterTo open a PDF you may need to download Adobe Reader