Sources for the history of medicine

The collections provide a source in one place for comparisons between different hospitals, administrations, nurse training schools and alumni organizations. A particular strength is the records of two mental hospitals in the same town, for both of which the case and administrative records are almost complete: a private asylum founded for the middle classes in 1826 (the Warneford) and a county pauper asylum opened in 1846 (the Littlemore). The Warneford's early collection of correspondence and papers is particularly good and includes advice sought from asylums in other parts of the country.

There have been many ground breaking developments in Oxfordshire hospitals. After the First World War G.R. Girdlestone's plans for the organization of orthopaedics in Oxford were made the model for the rest of the country; the Wingfield Orthopaedic Hospital, later the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, became a world leader in orthopaedics. On 27th January 1941 the first dose of penicillin was given intravenously to man at the Radcliffe Infirmary, and five months later the first accident service in Great Britain began in the same hospital. In 1948 the Nuffield Foundation established a research unit in Oxford which found and measured the missing clotting factor in the blood of haemophilic patients and produced a substitute. At the Cowley Road Hospital in Oxford Lionel Cosin pioneered the concept of the Day Hospital for the elderly.

In the psychiatric field the first Group Homes in the country were set up in Oxford (houses in which psychiatric patients were able to live in the community), and it was here that Community Psychiatric Nurses were first attached to GP practices.