HHARP is a collection of resources about the development of healthcare for children in the Victorian and Edwardian era. At its heart 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 and the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease and the Royal Hospital for Sick Chilldren, 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; and Glasgow, 1883-1904.
In addition to the database there is a library of articles providing historical context to the databases and a gallery of images from the era.
About the Hospitals
The Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street was the first hospital dedicated to inpatient care of sick children in the UK. It opened in 1852 after a successful campaign to raise funds by its founder, Dr Charles West. The early hospital was housed in a converted 18th century gentlemen’s residence in Great Ormond Street, Holborn, an area on the northern edge of the West End, adjacent to Bloomsbury. The modern hospital occupies the same site although it has grown to enormously, compared to its original 10 bed institution. Its founding aim was to provide care for the sick children of the poor. The admission registers for Great Ormond Street are held at the hospital’s Museum and Archive, managed by Mr Nicholas Baldwin. The registers are catalogued: GOS/9/1-20.
Cromwell House was Great Ormond Street’s convalescent home, situated in leafy, semi-rural Highgate on the northern edges of the city. It was opened in 1869 to take children from the main hospital considered to be no longer in need of acute medical care. The Home provided children with a place where they could recover their strength, after sometimes months of gruelling hospital treatment, before being returned to the rigours of their natural habitats. The admission registers for Cromwell House are held at the hospital’s Museum and Archive, managed by Mr Nicholas Baldwin. The registers are catalogued: CH/9/1,3,4,6.
The Evelina Hospital opened in 1869 in a purpose-built building. It was sited on the newly constructed Southwark Bridge Road, just south of the Thames in a neighbourhood of wretched poverty and noxious industries. The hospital was the brainchild of Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, created in memory of his wife Evelina who had died in childbirth. It too had as its key objective the provision of care for the sick children of its impoverished neighbours. The records for the Evelina are held at the London Metropolitan Archives. The registers are catalogued: H09/EV/B01-2.
The Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease opened in 1867 in Queen Square, Bloomsbury, just round the corner from the Hospital for Sick Children. This was no coincidence as two of its founders were nurses at the children’s hospital. Catherine Wood and Miss Spencer Percival were concerned for the welfare of children with chronic joint disease, who were being discharged from Great Ormond Street, only partially recovered. Such children inevitably were suffering from tubercular infection of the joints and needed prolonged gentle care, sometimes lasting years. Despite initial objections to such a specialist hospital it was tremendously successful, and the demand for beds consistently outpaced the hospital’s ability to accommodate it. The records for the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease are held at the Museum and Archives at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The registers are catalogued SBHA/MR1 (applications register); SBHA/MR2 (admissions register)
The Royal Hospital for Sick Children Glasgow opened in 1883, and was one of the last of the major children’s hospitals to be opened during the 19th century. The idea for a children's hospital had been mooted more than 20 years earlier, in 1861, at a meeting attended by a group of medical men, clergymen and influential citizens. They were galvanized by the shockingly high infant mortality rate in Glasgow; and the emergence of children's hospitals in major cities across England and Scotland, particularly in Edinburgh the previous year. However, there was major opposition to the plan, not least from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, which objected on the grounds that it provided beds for children, and that specialist institutions were not needed. The Hospital's founders eventually prevailed and a suitable building, a residential property, was acquired in Garnethill, at the corner of Scott Street and Buccleuch Street. It received its first patient on 8 January 1883. There were two medical and one surgical ward, which provided 58 beds for children aged 2 to 12. The records for the hospital are held by the Greater Glasgow Health Board Archive (http://www.archives.gla.ac.uk/gghb/collects/default.html). The main records used for this database were the admission registers 1883-1904 in the series YH6/1/1-26.
About the Databases
The HHARP databases contain records transcribed from Victorian and Edwardian patient admission registers for four London children hospitals: the Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street (and its convalescent home, Cromwell House), the Evelina Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease. Searches can be made by individual institution or across the collection of databases.
Each database record provides information on an individual admission to one of the institutions. There are 104,000 records relating to admissions to Great Ormond Street, 10,290 relating to admissions to Cromwell House, 11,185 relating to Evelina admissions, 2,488 admissions to the Alexandra Hospital, and 11,921 relating to the Glasgow hospital.
Registers for all institutions provided the same basic information:
- Child’s name, sex and age on admission
- Date of admission, name of the admitting doctor, the ward to which he or she was admitted and date of discharge
- Initial diagnosis, discharge date and outcome of stay in hospital
- Remarks on aspects of the child’s stay in hospital
The records for each hospital also included some additional information:
Great Ormond Street Hospital : child’s address on admission; details of referrals on discharge; a small number of records (1,339) have patients’ case notes attached
Cromwell House : address on admission; details of referrals on discharge; information on the child’s vaccination status and a history of childhood diseases encountered (for a small number of records).
Evelina Hospital : address on admission; parental occupation; brief details of treatment given; details of referrals on discharge; duration of illness before admission; brief details of post mortem findings (where result was death in the Hospital).
Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease : the records in this database are derived from two sources, an applications register and an admissions register. The applications register provides information on the date of application, parental occupations and child’s home address and an indication of whether the application for admission was successful or not. The admissions register contains several unique pieces of information: name of referring institution (many of the patients had been sent from other hospitals), cause of the problem in the joint, condition of the joint on admission, indication of which limb/joint was affected (left or right), duration of condition before admission and whether any fees were paid.
Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow: child’s address on admission, address of recommender, child’s religion and the name and occupation of parents.
Not all these additional elements were recorded for each child.
What is NOT in the Databases
It is possible that you will not find what you are looking for in any of the databases. The principal reasons for this are as follows:-
- The child was not treated at any of the hospitals included in HHARP. In the years after Great Ormond Street opened many other small children’s hospitals were established throughout Britain (including those in the HHARP collection), and the larger voluntary hospitals opened children’s wards. It is possible that a child in-patient was treated at another of these hospitals.
- The child was an out-patient. Many of the patients treated at the hospitals in HHARP (with the exception of Cromwell House) were never admitted to the wards. The hospitals treated thousands of out-patients annually, but unfortunately out-patient registers have not survived.
- The child was admitted less than one hundred years ago (see below).
- Members of Staff: The names of nurses, junior doctors and ancillary staff are not given in the registers from which the database has been created.
Data protection rules require that records relating to children admitted less than 100 years ago should be anonymised. As a result, records from 1915-1921 ARE published but with the names of children hidden. This means it is not possible to search for specific patients whose admission dates are less than one hundred years ago. The children’s names are revealed as the date of their admission passes the one hundred year mark. By the end of 2021 all anonymisation will have been removed.
There was little if any standardisation of information by the clerks who created the registers, and they also introduced errors at the time of creation. Some errors appear to have occurred as a result of contemporary transcription, probably from individual ward books to the big registers, and sometimes appear to be errors resulting from misheard verbal information.
Standard spelling was not of primary concern to the Victorians so many phonetic variations of names and addresses can be found.
A standardised nosology and nomenclature of diseases did not exist in the period covered by HHARP so many variations are used to describe similar diseases or symptoms.
In order to help users of HHARP find information against this background of non-conformity, several indexes have been added by the Project team.
The Institution field enables users to restrict searches to either one specific institution by selecting it from the drop down menu on the search screen. The default setting ‘All Records’ searches across all institutions. (NB The two types of register for the Alexandra Hospital – applications and admissions – have been merged into one database and are searched together if Alexandra Hospital is selected.)
Fields for Street, Registration District and Sub-registration district have been added to aid searches for London addresses. For addresses outside London we are in the process of adding county information to aid searching and analysis. See Help Patient details for more information on searching for addresses.
Length of Stay and Year of Birth have been calculated from data in the registers, and added to the database. These fields did not exist in the original books.
Admitting Doctor was created to enable searches by particular doctors. It contains a standard version of the doctors’ names, as they were often abbreviated in the registers, and occasionally misspelt.
The largest additional indexes, developed to simplify searching for diseases, are Disease Name, Disease Group and ICD10. Information on diagnoses in the registers suffers from a lack of standardisation, misspelling, and (from a 21st century point of view) clarity. These three indexes have been created to help users find a way through the maze of Victorian and Edwardian medical terms and their understanding of medical sciences. See Help Diseases for more information.
Both registered and unregistered users can use the HHARP web site and database. However, several advantages are gained by becoming a registered user:
- Access to more advanced search options
- Access to more detailed records of individual admissions
- Ability to print and download records.
Registration enables us to analyse the types of user on the system, helping us to plan enhancements and future developments more effectively. Registration also helps to deter inappropriate use of the database, thus protecting free access to this unique source for bona fide researchers. The registration process is simple, FREE, and requires that you provide minimal personal information.
Your details will never be passed on to third parties and will only be used in the administration of this web site.
The Search Form is split into four distinct areas (Personal Details, Residence, Admission and Stay, and Disease, Outcome and Discharge) grouping related pieces of information together. Each area has its own Help. Searches can combine elements from within and between these areas, although it is advisable not to attempt to combine too many elements in a search. It is always advisable to start a search broad and narrow down to reduce the number of hits.
Use the Clear Form button before starting a completely new search, otherwise search terms left over from a previous search will affect the results.
Once all the search terms have been entered simply click on Search (at the top or bottom of the form) to begin the search.
For more information on searching specific fields see the related HELP topic.
The results of your search are displayed in a table which provides brief information extracted from each record.
You can sort the results table by any of the columns, by clicking on the down arrow in the Sort By box and clicking on the desired sort format.
If the results were not what you were expecting you can click on ‘Amend Your Search Criteria’, which takes you back to the Search Form.
Note: Users are limited as to the number of records which can be viewed. A message will alert you if your results set exceeds this limit.
To view a full record click anywhere on the line relating to that record in the results table. The Full Record Display page displays all the information relating to that record in the same arrangement as in the Search Form. For Great Ormond Street, Cromwell House, the Evelina and the Admissions to Alexandra Hip Hospital an additional section, Patient History, includes information such as ‘Cause of Condition’, Duration of illness, history of infantile diseases, among others, depending on the type of record being viewed.
The structure of the application records display page for the Alexandra Hip Hospital reflects the different content of this register. There are no admission, disease or patient history sections, but instead each records contains an ‘Application’ section, which provides details of the application to be admitted, including whether it was successful or not, date of admission if successful, name of the child’s sponsor (or subscriber) and other remarks.
The content of the record display page is driven by the type of record selected, so if a field is not present in a particular database it will not be displayed when viewing records from that institution. For instance you will only find the treatment field in the display page for Evelina records. However, if the field is present in a database, but was the data was not entered for a particular record, the field will be reproduced in the display page, but will carry the comment ‘Not recorded’.
To view another record in your results set, click on the link ‘Back to search results’ and select another record to view, or use the previous and next buttons in the record display page to view adjacent records.
If the record has any related admissions you can use the Related Records links at the bottom of the page to navigate between them.
Printing and Downloading
Both the Results Table and individual records can be printed by clicking on the Print button on the appropriate screen.
There is also a download facility available on the Results Table page. This facility allows users to download the full results set into a tabular csv file (comma separated values) which can then be opened in most spreadsheet applications. There are two options for download. Which you use depends on what you searched for. I you searched for an individual institution eg Alexandra Hip Hospital use the ‘Results for AHH’ link to download your results table. If you searched for one of the other hospitals, use the ‘Download All Results except AHH’ link. If your search was across all institutions you will need to download them in two steps, using first one link and then the other. The reason for this is that Alexandra Hip Hospital records are so different in composition to those from the other hospitals that to include these in a standard format would result in a very large number of blank fields.
If, when using Excel, the file opens with all the data in the first column, highlight the first column, click Data from the toolbar and select ‘Text to Column’. Choose ‘Delimited’ and on next screen choose ‘comma’, and follow the remaining instructions to ‘Finish’. The data will be separated into columns representing fields in the database.
For Great Ormond Street, Cromwell House, Glasgow or the Evelina each record (row) in the downloaded table contains the following fields (not always populated):
First name (Standardised)
Age (Yrs and Mths)
Year of Birth
Length of Stay
Disease in register
Vaccination for Small Pox
Occupation of Parents
For the Alexandra Hip Hospital each record (row) in the downloaded table contains the following fields, derived from both the applications and admission registers:
First name (Standardised)
Age (Yrs and Mths)
Year of Birth
Length of Stay
Condition on admission (from register)
Condition on admission (standardised)
Cause of admission (from register)
Cause of admission (standardised)
Condition on discharge
Cause of discharge (from register)
Cause of discharge (standardised)
Final result (eventual outcome)
Result on discharge
Occupation of parents
There are limits on the number of records which can be printed or downloaded. This limit is set automatically at 200 records for any one search. If users have valid reasons for requiring larger volumes of data they should contact the project, using the ‘Contact Us’ link, stating your search parameters, the purpose for which the data is required and a decision will be made within 28 days.
The Library contains a collection of short articles describing various aspects of the hospitals in HHARP including brief histories of the hospitals, short biographies of some of the pioneering doctors who worked in them and of the matrons who organised and managed the wards and the housekeeping arrangements. Articles will continue to be added to the Library over time, so be sure to keep checking for new arrivals.
The Gallery contains a collection of images of the hospitals from the earliest times through to the Edwardian era. They show views of the interior and exterior of hospital buildings, and images of the people who inhabited them, including the patients, nurses and doctors.