Penicillin: promise, problems and practice in wartime Edinburgh

While medical historians have paid ample attention to the introduction of antibiotics and their impact on hospital-based practice during and after the Second World War, the multiple issues surrounding their use in Scottish hospitals are sorely lacking in current discussions. Drawing on an extensive yet underused range of materials including patient treatment records, oral histories and medical correspondence, this paper explores the introduction of penicillin for civilian treatment at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh during the closing stages of the War.

Dr Syntax’s view of Edinburgh medicine: the life and pictures of John Sheriff (1775–1844)

From the 1820s to the 1840s, one of the most recognisable figures in Edinburgh was the eccentric John Sheriff, generally known as Dr Syntax. He was a talented amateur artist, whose work provides a fascinating and strange insight into the mind of a troubled man and, because of his interest in medicine, into the history of medicine in Scotland at the time. This paper seeks to show that Sheriff and his pictures deserve to be remembered, since they offer intriguing insights for anyone interested in the history of medicine and of Edinburgh at the end of its Golden Age.

Maternity records in Edinburgh and Aberdeen in 1936: a comparison

Historians have long used maternity records to understand the evolution of maternity services. More recently, epidemiologists have become interested in obstetric hospital records as a source of data (e.g. birth weight, social class), to study the influence of early life on future health and disease: life course epidemiology. Edinburgh and Aberdeen are unusual in holding detailed records from several maternity institutions.