Do you want to know if your ancestors were part of the medical community during the early 19th century London? Would you like to trace the records of an ancestor who had been a doctor around those times? Is your great grandmother among the first women who attended the London Medical School for Women? In Episode 8 of the Family History Show, Nick Barratt and Laura Berry takes you to the Royal Free Archive in London. Its extensive collection of medical record will simply take you to the heart of London was like during the 1820s to early 1900s.

The narrative medical records of London hospitals during the 1820s hold much detail about the country’s social history. For instance, records of hospital admissions and even death records could help reveal the living condition as well as the way of life of your ancestors in early London. In this episode, Laura Berry takes you to the extensive records held at the Royal Free Archive Center in London, where you will meet the archivist, Victoria Ray.

Victoria shares the story on how a gentleman named William Marsden founded the Royal Free Hospital in London in the year 1828. The hospital was dedicated to those poor patients that other hospitals refuse to care for. Together with Laura, they went back into the time when the Royal Free Hospital admitted patients with diseases that are either epidemic or an outcry. Victoria shares that aside from poor patients, the hospital also dedicated a ward for prostitutes with venereal diseases, which created quite a public scandal during those times.

It was the opinion of the Royal Free Hospital committee that no class of community has a stronger claim to public sympathy than the more wretched, as they are more diseased; therefore, they have a greater claim on their charity. The medical records saved by the hospital and those other hospitals that eventually joined it in a trust, were left to the care of a bright lady doctor, whose own interesting story or acquiring such extensive records will be shared in this episode.

Contrary to common belief, the medical records featured in Episode 8 proves that women already took an active participation in the world of medicine since 1820s. London’s School of Medicine for Women was founded in 1874 and was the very first school to accept and train female medicine students. The students were then required to practice medicine in the wards. Incidentally, these female students served and trained at the Royal Free Hospital since no other hospitals in London would accept them except for free. The lady students’ training logs in the hospital as well as their many press cuttings were saved and included in various medical records archives.

Lastly, Nick and Laura share their own tips on how to make better use of the existing archives of medical records. Watch Episode 8 and discover how early London medical records can provide detailed information about your ancestors and open up a whole range of searches, which might help you put the puzzles together in your own genealogical research.


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Watch Each Segment Individually

Introduction to Episode 8

Tracing Mediacl Ancestors

Royal Free Archive Centre

Nick & Laura’s Top Tips on Medical Records