GD16 Physician Superintendents of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Collection Summary


Reference Code: GB239 GD16
Title: Physician Superintendents of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital
Dates of Creation of Material: 1850s-1980s
Level of Description: Fonds
Extent and Medium of the Unit of Description: 12 shelf metres: bound volumes, papers, architectural plans, photographs, artworks


Name of creator(s): David Skae (1814-1873); Thomas Smith Clouston (1840-1915); George Matthew Robertson (1864-1932); Sir David Kennedy Henderson (1884-1965); T A Munro (1905-1966); James Wigham Affleck; Thomas Laycock, physician (1812-1876); Charles John Robertson Milne, physician; Ethel Elizabeth Robertson, psychiatrist; William Boyd, psychiatrist; Robert Clennell, patient; John Willis Mason, patient; John Home, patient; Alexander Kennedy, patient; William Bartholomew, patient; John Stuart Morton, patient; John Myles, artist
Administrative/Biographical History: The office of physician superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital was created in 1840 and unified the administrative and medical sides of the institution for the first time. The second incumbent, David Skae, and his successors in office all taught what is now known as psychiatry either extramurally, or under the auspices of the University of Edinburgh, with which the Hospital's ties increased, especially after 1948. Robertson and Kennedy were also university professors of psychiatry, for example. In connection with his teaching role, Thomas Clouston was probably the first to build up a collection of patient-related letters, writings and drawings, which were probably used by students when they attended practical cliniques. His successor George Roberston collected material relating to Thomas Laycock, Professor of the Practice of Physic at the University of Edinburgh. The papers of the later medical superintendents, Henderson, Munro and Affleck contain a mixture of research, published off-prints, obituaries etc., as well as administrative material. The physician superintendent's subject-based files and the Medical Staff Committee minutes are examples of the latter. There are also papers relating to other Hospital medical staff such as E. E. Robertson and W. Boyd. Each physician superintendent also routinely collected statistical returns on patients, printed lunacy acts, law reports etc. and material related to the history and traditions of the Hospital, such as the minute book of the Royal Edinburgh Library Club, 1873-1885, and records relating to the patient and medical libraries both of which were founded by William Mackinnon, the first physician superintendent (1840-1846), whose papers do not appear to have survived.
Archival History: Papers originally held in Medical Superintendent's Office, Mackinnon House, Royal Edinburgh Hospital; some transferred to Psychiatry Library, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, in late 1980s
Immediate Source of Acquisition or Transfer: University of Edinburgh Psychiatry Library, early 1990s; Medical Superintendents Office, 2000


Scope and Content: The fonds includes: Skae lecture notes, medico-legal papers and off-prints 1853-1873; Clouston papers, correspondence with individuals and institutions, proofs of writings and off-prints, Robertson-Milne papers and patient-related material 1873-1907; Robertson lecture notes, off-prints, Thomas Laycock papers, D Ritchie Leith Cases,1907-1932; Henderson, Munro and Affleck off-prints, E. Robertson and Boyd papers, patient and administrative records and information relating to the history and traditions of the Hospital.
Accruals: No further accessions are expected
System of Arrangement: Not yet arranged


Conditions Governing Access: Access is subject to the terms of the UK Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
Conditions Governing Reproduction: Reproduction is subject to confidentiality, copyright and physical conditions
Language/Scripts of Material: English, French

Related Units of Description:
James Wigham Affleck (GD1/64)
Royal Edinburgh and Associated Hospitals Board of Management (LHB14)
Royal Edinburgh Asylum Medical Library (GD17)
Royal Edinburgh Hospital (LHB7)
Royal Medico-Psychological Association, Scottish Division (GD15)

Archivists' Notes: Compiled by Mike Barfoot from uncatalogued material
Rules or Conventions: Description based on ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description International Council on Archives (2nd edition), 2000
Date(s) of Description: May 2000; revised June 2006