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NHS Greater Glasgow
and Clyde Archives

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Smallpox




IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ BEFORE PROCEEDING

Because of the sensitive nature of much of the information they contain there is a 75 year closure period on all patient records (a 100 year closure period on records relating to minors). If you wish to consult patient records which are less than 75 years old you must apply to the Director of Public Health for Glasgow for permission. This application can be made through the NHSGGC Archivist.


Introduction

Glasgow suffered smallpox epidemics in 1855–1857, 1870–1872, 1900–1902 and 1920. Cases of smallpox may be found in the records of many of the hospitals held by the NHSGCB Archive. However, two hospitals specifically treated smallpox in Glasgow, Belvidere and Robroyston. The majority of records relating to smallpox can be found in the Belvidere Hospital collection.


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Belvidere Hospital  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 65)

Belvidere Infectious Diseases Hospital was built by Glasgow Town Council. It opened in 1871 with a bed capacity of 250. Its original temporary buildings were replaced by permanent ones in 1887. These contained 390 beds. Over–crowding was, however, frequent with average bed occupancy sometimes exceeding 600. In 1900–1901 five temporary pavilions were erected to cope with a smallpox epidemic. They were not demolished until 1937.

Belvidere remained primarily an infectious diseases hospital until after the creation of the National Health Service in 1948, when it was placed under the Board of Management for Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Over the following twenty five years Belvidere experienced a major diversification as it became integrated into some of the Royal Infirmary’s activities. In 1959 the words ‘Infectious Diseases’ were dropped from its title. The Archive holds the following material relating to smallpox:

  • 1865–1920; Smallpox Hospital admission registers  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 65/3/1–8)
  • 1901–1909; Daily return book for smallpox and chickenpox  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 65/9/15)
  • 1904–1905; Casebooks – smallpox  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 65/19/1–6)
  • c.1920; Photographs of clinical cases (possibly smallpox)  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 65/29/52–59)
  • 1898–1902; Publications – reports by Medical Officer of Health and by Sanitary Inspector; report of plague; report on smallpox (1900–1902); report on census (all reports refer to Glasgow)  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 65/30/13)
  • 1903–1905; Publications – miscellaneous reports on enteric fever, scarlet fever, smallpox, cholera, plague  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 65/30/14)
  • 1920; Particulars of smallpox epidemic admissions (gives additional information to that contained in HB 65/3/8)  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 65/32/38)

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Robroyston Hospital  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 36)

Robroyston was built as a municipal smallpox and tuberculosis hospital and opened in 1918. It was temporarily used as a military hospital in 1918–1919. By 1925 450 beds were devoted to tuberculosis patients, almost half of Glasgow’s total complement.

  • 1919–1954; Registers of smallpox patients  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 36/1/5–6)
  • 1942–1976; Vaccination registers  (NHSGGCA Ref: HB 36/1/12–13)

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Further reading

Chalmers, A. K., The Health of Glasgow, 1818–1925, (Glasgow, 1930).
Checkland, O. & Lamb, M., Health Care as Social History, The Glasgow case, (Aberdeen University Press, 1982).


There is no published history of Belvidere Hospital. The personal papers of Dr. Peter Mackenzie held by the NHSGGCA contain material collected together and written by Dr. Mackenzie relating to the history of the hospital and the history of epidemic disease. The collection reference for Dr. Mackenzie’s papers is HB 92.


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