The latest collection donated to the Heritage Centre was received earlier this month from the family of Dr Edith Gilchrist, a well-known anaesthetist and highly-respected archivist and researcher.
Born in September 1913, Dr Gilchrist died shortly before her 100th birthday in July 2013. She qualified in 1938 at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, and within five years was resident anaesthetist at Addenbrookes Hospital, before returning to the Royal Free as staff anaesthetist in 1945. Dr Gilchrist gained the DA (Diploma in Anaesthetics) in 1942 and was awarded the FFARCS (Fellow of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal College of Surgeons) in 1953.
Whilst at the Royal Free, Dr Gilchrist worked with Stanley Rowbotham, the pioneering anaesthetists who helped to develop plastic surgery after the First World War, and pioneered local and intravenous anaesthesia. They became life-long friends and Dr Gilchrist arranged for his memorial plaque which now hangs in the Royal College of Anaesthetists.
Keenly interested in the history of medicine, she was a member of The Hunterian Society, The Osler Club and was the first female president of The Harveian Society. She was also the honorary archivist for the Royal Free and co-founded their archive centre which is now part of the London Metropolitan Archives.
The collection contains equipment used by Dr Gilchrist throughout her career, as well as pharmaceutical packaging and sample sets, and books with notes from both Dr Gilchrist and Stanley Rowbotham. Scroll down to see some of the objects in the collection.
The Anaesthesia Heritage Museum has been very popular lately and has received several donations of books and objects over the last few weeks.
As we will start a series of exhibitions looking at anaesthesia in wartime in a few months time, we are very grateful to the family of Dr O P Dinnick for their recent donation.
Dr Dinnick served as an anaesthetist in the Second World War in the RAF and was posted in North Africa and Italy, supporting the 8th Army. The donated objects are a small medical kit, made by the Army Medical Service. Designed to be worn on a belt, it contains forceps, tweezers, a tiny thermometer and glass ampoules of catgut and surgical thread. There is also a china Red Cross feeding cup, which was used with patients who were unable to leave their beds.
Last week, the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre received a bound volume of Punch magazines from 1847, the year after the first use of ether. It contains several references to the new drug and several suggestions for use, as well as this song about chloroform…
Earlier this month a view was held for the our new exhibition ‘Out of Our Comfort Zone’ which looks at the work of anaesthetists during wars and disasters.
The viewing was attended by representatives from the military, medical charities, universities and hospitals, and guided tours were led by our volunteers.
Some of the interesting artefacts exhibited date back to the nineteenth century and include the table used for the first operation under ether, a chloroform sales pot and a Triservice Apparatus used by the armed forces, in military or major disasters. This robust, portable apparatus was designed by Brigadier Ivan Houghton in 1981, who also attended the event.
The keynote speaker at the event was Dr Andrew Hartle, the AAGBI Council’s President Elect, who treated casualties of the Edgware Road tube bombings in July 2007, and spoke about his experiences.
Dr. Hartle said, “In this era of rapid technological development within the medical field, few people realise that before 1950, seriously injured people received little or no life-supporting treatment before they arrived at the hospital. Probably something even lesser known, is the contribution of anaesthetists in times of crises. For instance, at the Moorgate tube disaster in 1975, 16 out of the 18 doctors on site were anaesthetists. This exhibition is therefore an important compilation of facts and equipment which illustrate the history of pain relief in crisis situations. If you have ever been directly or indirectly affected by a disaster, I would recommend a visit to this exhibition.”
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Scroll down for further images of the event and exhibition.