MED­I­CAL FORE­BEARS

As the NHS cel­e­brates its 70th birth­day, Jonathan Scott picks the top sites for re­search­ing health pro­fes­sion­als

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The Na­tional Health Ser­vice was founded in 1948, and the mile­stone an­niver­sary is be­ing cel­e­brated in a va­ri­ety of ways, in­clud­ing new social his­tory projects. Be­fore the NHS health­care was frag­men­tary, pro­vided through pri­vate treat­ment, char­i­ta­ble hos­pi­tals and dis­pen­saries, and lo­cal Poor Law au­thor­i­ties.

Many fam­ily his­to­ri­ans will be more in­ter­ested in these pre-NHS sources, and there’s an ex­cel­lent over­view of the types of records that may sur­vive for nurses, doc­tors and sur­geons at GenGuide: bit.ly/gen­guidemed­i­cal-staff. The web page also lists some re­sources re­lat­ing to the train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion of med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

Hos­pi­tal staff records will in gen­eral be housed ei­ther at the lo­cal county record of­fice (for ex­am­ple the Lon­don Met­ro­pol­i­tan Archives boasts records from more than 80 hos­pi­tals), or at the hos­pi­tal it­self. And re­mem­ber that many larger hos­pi­tals formed their own nurs­ing schools.

An oper­a­tion in a lec­ture the­atre at Univer­sity Col­lege Hos­pi­tal Med­i­cal School, Lon­don, in 1898

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