Our Archives and Special Collections has been awarded a grant for £160,000 from the Wellcome Trust for a project to conserve, digitise and catalogue the post mortem examinations and case books of St George’s Hospital.
The case books, dating from 1841-1946, are deemed to be of outstanding value to researchers in the medical humanities. Once accessible, the case books will contribute towards our understanding of mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century hospital practice, popular contemporary scientific and medical approaches, and medical education.
Furthermore, the case books feature detailed autopsy reports written by noted surgeons including Henry Gray, Caesar Hawkins and Timothy Holmes, and later eminent figures such as Claude Frankau and William Duke-Elder. Such reports include an analysis of the bones, joints, muscles and organs. From the 1880s onwards, the case books contain original anatomical drawings. Until now, scholars have been largely unaware of the existence of these original works.
In 2018, the case books were sent to the London Conservation Centre in Northampton where the leather covers were treated for a condition known as ‘red rot’. They were then transferred to the London Metropolitan Archives in Clerkenwell where the interior pages have been repaired and digitised. We are happy to confirm that the conservation and digitisation work is now complete and the materials are due to be brought home to St George’s, University of London.
Two project archivists will begin cataloguing the post mortem volumes this summer. Once this final stage is complete, the images and catalogue data will be freely available to researchers and members of the general public via our online archive catalogue.