People's History of the NHS

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  • 07
  • NOV

Next Roadshow – 8th January, Edinburgh!

by Jenny Crane

We are delighted to announce our next ‘NHS Roadshow’!  It will be on Monday 8th January 2018 in Edinburgh Central Library, from 1-4PM.

Come along for a chance to meet our team and to see our lovely NHS objects.  We’ll be bringing:

  • Trade union manuals and posters from the 1970s and 1980s, including a slightly depleted but still relatively impressive stock of stickers (many nabbed away from us during our St Fagan’s Roadshow …!)
  • NHS baby glasses, very very small for my tiny and poor-sighted baby head.  Also my present glasses will be on my face, if of interest at all for comparison
  • Some creepy (in my opinion) photos of disused historical hospitals
  • Collections of poetry about the NHS – an institution which has inspired many cultural productions, including by Phillip Larkin
  • A historical heath-test!  We are not qualified to operate this, but we are qualified to tell you how people would have used it in the 1950s and that is something, right?
  • If we can manage to carry it, our (unusual) team mascot, a 1950s prosthetic leg
  • Nurses uniforms for you to scribble on, adding to such interesting notes we’ve had at previous events as ‘this is not a proper uniform!’

Antique Roadshow style, we’re also asking you to please bring along your NHS objects!  Do you have your baby tag?  Historical false teeth?  An NHS mug or staff badge?  A book about the NHS or a training manual?  Whatever you have, we would love to see it.  We have a gallery of the objects our team found around our own homes, which may provide some inspiration.  With your consent, we’d also love to photograph your NHS objects and to put pictures in our virtual gallery, which is at the moment, perhaps surprisingly, the ONLY Museum of the NHS!

We’d also love to hear your stories and memories of the NHS.  2018 will be the institutions’ big 70th birthday, and this is the perfect time to tell us how you think it has changed over time, and your earliest memories.  We use these to write histories of the NHS, and your input really does shape our research questions.  Read my blog from our event at St Fagan’s for an example of how meeting lots of people changed and shaped our research thinking.  We’d like in particular this time to reflect with visitors about Anniversaries about why we think about history in this way.  Is the meaning of the NHS best defined by birthdays and ‘founding fathers’, or is it ingrained in daily interactions between staff, patients, and families?  Does the NHS have a coherent or singular meaning, and can we capture this through historical study or at engagement events?  How can we do better to represent the complexities of your experiences of the health service?

We’ll also be joined by many archival friends, including those from the Lothian Health Services archives, who have some truly wonderful materials, and who have written for us before about what their archives tell us about diet in the NHS and women and mental health.  Ask them about their archives, and how to use them, on the day.  We’ll hopefully also have some lovely documents on display.

We have lots of activities for children too including colouring, ‘Operation’ (any excuse), and medical playsets!!  We love hearing from children about how they experience the NHS.  Giving us some of our most brilliant feedback so far, one child at our St Fagans Roadshow, having a lot of fun, reliably informed us that the NHS is like Spiderman, because it is a superhero.

We hope to see as many people there as possible.  If you have any queries about this at all, please do feel free to email me, Jenny, at J.Crane.1@warwick.ac.uk.

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