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Historic Hospital Admission Records Project

About the project

About the Databases

At the heart of the HHARP website lies a suite of unique databases, based on the admission registers to four children's hospitals: Great Ormond Street Hospital (and its convalescent home, Cromwell House), the Evelina Hospital, the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease, and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow. The Admission Registers cover a period ranging from February 1852 (when Great Ormond Street's doors first opened) through to December 31st 1921. While the Great Ormond Street records are continuous for the whole period, the other hospital records cover shorter runs within these dates: Cromwell House, 1869 to 1910; the Evelina, 1874 -1877/1889-1902; Alexandra Hospital for Hip Disease, 1867-1895, Glasgow, 1883 to 1903.

The Registers have been carefully transcribed and indexed to enable flexible and accurate searching of this important resource. Users can search either across all databases or by individual institution on a range of data types including: name (first and last), age, sex, and address, disease and outcome. Other searchable fields include date of admission and discharge, admitting doctor, outcome of treatment and subsequent referrals (if any).

In addition to these fields, which are present in all databases, the Evelina and Glasgow hospitals contain some additional information.

Evelina Hospital Additional Data;

  • Cause of admission (Brief details)

  • Treatment (brief details)

  • Post mortem report (brief details)

Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow:

  • Parents name and Occupation

  • Religion

The Alexander Hospital for Children with Hip Disease as quite different from the other three hospital, specialising in treating children with diseases of the hip. Its databases have been built form two separate records, an applications register and admissions register. Its records are quite different although name of patient, sex, age and address are all present. But the records also contain information which reflects the nature of the institution, providing descriptions of the deformity of the hip and leg.

  • Cause of admission and condition on admission attempt to describe why the joint is deformed (usually as a result of injury, 'e (that is no obvious cause) or as a result of another problem such as infection, and the condition of the joint (slightly abducted, in pain, open sinuses, shortening etc).

  • Condition on discharge and cause of discharge - walking well, high boot fitted, no pain, position good etc.

The Application Registers include sometimes include information on patients parents, whether admitted or not, and sometimes reason for refusal.

Standardisation and Coding

Several data elements have been added to the databases, by the project team, to make searching simpler or to enable standard searches to be conducted across databases.

  • Length of stay has been calculated from admission and discharge dates.

  • Year of birth has been added to help family historians.

  • For the London hospitals, street names have been standardised and assigned to Registration Districts and Registration Sub-districts, with the needs of local historians and demographers in mind, and counties have between added for patients from outside London. The Glasgow database provides standardised street names, registration districts and county information for all records, where possible.

  • Standardisation and classification has enabled cross-database searching for diseases. The work on diseases was a challenging but vital element of the project. There was little attempt in Victorian and Edwardian times to standardise disease names, nor was there a well developed and universally accepted classification of diseases. In order to help users find their way through the maze of abbreviations, synonyms and misspellings which characterise the diagnosis information in all the Registers, three indexes have been added. Two of which were developed specifically for this project and more details on these indexes can be found in Disease Help. The third, the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases (ICD10) was added for use by modern medical demographers (Great Ormond Street 1852-1904 only).

The Great Ormond Street database is supplemented by a collection of scanned images from 14 volumes of patient case notes of the founding physician, Dr Charles West. The case notes, which cover a period between 1852 and 1874, contain a wealth of information on the treatment and management of sick children in the mid-Victorian period. A further set of case notes, belonging to Dr Archibald Garrod have also been added to the Great Ormond Street database. Ther are now 1200 case notes records relating to Dr West and 4,700 relating to Dr Garrod.

It is hoped that the HHARP databases will be used in many ways, and that the addition of three more hospitals in London and Glasgow will add to its utility by providing opportunities for comparison. Academic questions it may illuminate include:

  • the growing importance of hospitalisation in understanding the health of the urban child

  • working class families' use of the children's hospital as a resource

  • the suspected change in the role of the hospital, from being a place of refuge from dire domestic circumstance, to a place of scientific advancement offering increasing likelihood of cure for children whose life chances had been disadvantaged by poverty.

  • differences and similarities between different regions of London and between the English and Scottish capitals.

The addition of the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease will provide a unique opportunity to study the treatment of children suffering from the scourge of poor children in the 19th century, tubercular disease of the bones.

For family historians HHARP offers another resource for tracing ancestors, in the inter-census years.

The HHARP databases complement and inform other archival databases, and will fill a gap in information on the lives of Victorian urban children, and on the institutionalisation - and medicalisation - of childhood, that was such a feature of nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain.