University of Glasgow and Erskine patient records archive goes online

Issued: Fri, 09 Mar 2018 11:00:00 GMT

Erskine patient records archive goes online

Strong working relations between the College of Arts, the Archive Services and  Veterans’ Charity Erskine has seen important First World War records digitalised and put online.

The new online database features the admissions registers of soldiers cared for by Erskine from 1916 to 1936 held at the University of Glasgow.

Professor Tony Pollard has been leading a research project on the University and the First World War and as part of this the story of Sir William Macewen, the University’s Regius Professor of Surgery (1892-1924) and his connections with Erskine was rediscovered.

As a result of this work, Erskine and the University’s Archives partnered on a project to digitise the hospital admissions. The University received a grant from the Wellcome Trust to conserve and digitise the admissions register to make it widely available to researchers.

Erskine took these digitised records and incorporated them into an online and fully searchable resource on their website.

The new online database was officially launched on Friday 9 March 2018 by Moira Gallie, whose grandfather lost his right leg in the war and was treated and rehabilitated at the Erskine Hospital.

Erskine Hospital – then called the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers - was co-founded in 1916 by Sir William to treat soldiers who had suffered the loss of a limb during the war.

Sir William was the hospital’s first surgeon and he also pioneered a new prosthetic limb design for the disabled soldiers.

Professor Pollard, the University’s Professor of Conflict History and Archaeology, based at the School of Humanities | Sgoil nan Daonnachdan, speaking at the launch said: “This online database is a portal to the past for many families and researchers. There are hundreds of personal stories of ordinary men who came back from war injured and broken.

“These are tales of endurance, rehabilitation and retraining to return to civilian life. And the admissions records also provide an insight into the development of prosthetics and care of war casualties post conflict.”

Over two years’ the University Archives staff and a team of volunteer indexers from the Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society, fully digitised the data from the 1916-1936 Erskine Hospital admissions held at the University.

Moira Rankin, the University’s Senior Archivist who lead the digitisation project, said: “This has been a wonderful example of partnership working both within and outwith the University of Glasgow. We are delighted that through our work to digitalise the admissions registers, it will now be accessible to everyone.”

Families searching out their ancestors First World War story, will be able to get online access to their relatives’ admissions records including details of injuries, recovery and in some case retraining at the hospital workshops.

Erskine Chief Executive Steve Conway said: “We are delighted that, thanks to the painstaking work by the University, relatives can now research our records about members of their families injured in the First World War from the comfort of their own home.”

Mrs Gallie from Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway accessed the records of James Henderson, her maternal grandfather who lost his right leg in 1918, through staff at the University’s Archives Service before it was digitised.

Moira Gallie at launch of Erskine Hospital archives going online

Through the records Mrs Gallie learned her grandfather had retrained at the hospital as a shoemaker after he lost his leg.

She said: “It is a great resource. It meant so much to my family and I to find out more about my grandfather’s time at Erskine Hospital. It was fascinating to put another piece of the puzzle back into his life story.”

Mrs Gallie has also been inspired by the Erskine archive and has done further research to learn more about her grandfather’s service in the war. 

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