Conservation Projects

Treatment of the Indexes to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh General Register of Patients


In 2004, The National Archives of Scotland awarded £1,100 (10% of the total cost) to conserve 94 Indexes to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh General Register of Patients (1869-1960). The Indexes are the first port of call for locating individuals’ entries in the Registers and, apart from the Registers themselves, they are probably the most frequently consulted series of LHSA-held records.



The volumes were in very poor condition, with detachment of the front and back boards and loss of spines frequently noted. Where still present, the half leather bindings showed extensive deterioration. Previous repairs to the spine, primarily with pressure sensitive tape, were observed. This level of degradation posed significant risk to the long-term preservation of the textblock (the pages), with potential loss of the important informational content of these volumes. Although the textblock was in relatively good condition in general, there was localised ingrained surface dirt and tearing, along with evidence of water ingress to several volumes.



The decision to provide the volumes with a full cloth binding was carefully made, taking into account the limited available funding and perceived value of the original case as compared to the high need for long-term safe and easy access to the informational content of the textblock. As much of the original binding was retained as possible with leather title pieces, labels and endpapers transferred to the new binding and a sample case kept for reference purposes. Where necessary, the textblock was cleaned with a chemical sponge and tears repaired with wheat starch paste and Japanese paper. Photographic and written documentation of the treatment undertaken was also produced.



The project work on the indexes complements similar treatment of the Registers themselves, which was funded from the annual budget over the period 2000-2003. The treatment undertaken on these important volumes has ensured that access continues to be possible without risk of damage.



LHSA acknowledges the support of the National Archives of Scotland for both this project and an award of £1,850 in 2002, which contributed to the conservation treatment of two volumes of press cuttings from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Indexes to General Register of Patients, detail, before treatment. Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Indexes to General register of Patients, after treatment. Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Index to General Register of Patients, detail, after treatment.