Research Archives

Archival Resources collated during the 2020-22 Period Poverty Project

1.  Original list & research plan
2.  Current archive & collections list
3.  Online/Digitised Resources
4.  Articles

1.  Original list & research plan

–  Surgeons Hall – visit to archives and Pathology Museum (including storage), agreed with Museum Events Officer Jordanna Kielty-O’Neill.

–  National Library of Scotland – visit to archives to work with library team to identify relevant collections and then access menstrual material, agreed with Head of General Collections Graeme Hawley.

–  Edinburgh University Library – viewing of the Dunfermline College of Physical Education collection, Winifred Rushforth’s papers and the Davidson Clinic collection, ‘Physiology for Ladies’ lecture notes by Edward Henry Sieveking at Stamford Hill, psychiatry collections from nineteenth and early twentieth century, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh collection (specifically on sexual dysfunction and infertility), Moray House College of Education records, World War 2 pamphlets on women’s health, student magazine collection from the 1970s onwards (The Student and Edinburgh College of Art’s Wee Red Herrings) and Social Work archives. Visits agreed with archives manager and deputy head of special collections Rachel Hosker.
Cyrenians charity – interviews agreed with Rachel Vette, co-ordinator for the Access to Free Sanitary Products project, and product distribution officer for Central & Southeast Scotland.

–  Hunterian Library – visit to pathology and medical exhibitions and collections.

–  Glasgow Women’s Library – visit to the zine collection, activist collection and exhibits.

–  University of Glasgow Archives – visit to view documentation about the changes in products, supplies, facilities in relation to provision for women entering the workplace, including the twentieth-century Army & Navy archives on women and menstrual products, via Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage Maria Economou.

Rest of Scotland
–  University of St Andrews Anatomy and Pathology Collections in the School of Medicine – visit to investigate holdings on reproductive health.

–  Fife Folk Museum, Ceres – visit to investigate holdings on local women’s history and practice in Fife.

–  Life Space, Dundee – visit to explore holdings at dedicated science-art research gallery at the School of Life Science, University of Dundee.

2. Current archive & collections list (Sept 2020)

–  Edinburgh University Library (Lothian Health Services Archive): Specifically 19th and 20th century psychiatry collections including Royal Edinburgh Asylum and the Papers of Dr Thomas Clouston; Centre for Reproductive Health Collections (including lecture notes, women’s health campaigns). This archive also includes the Royal Infirmary Collection, Women’s Health collections discussed in more detail below.

–  Other Edinburgh educational collections: Dunfermline College of Physical Education: viewing of the collection; Winifred Rushforth’s papers and the Davidson Clinic collection; ‘Physiology for Ladies’ lecture notes by Edward Henry Sieveking at Stamford Hill; Psychiatry collections from nineteenth and early twentieth century; Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh collection (specifically on sexual dysfunction and infertility); Moray House College of Education records; World War 2 pamphlets on women’s health; Student magazine collection from the 1970s onwards (The Student and Edinburgh College of Art’s Wee Red Herrings); Social Work archives.

–  Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh Archives: The Cullen Project (18th century) – correspondence relating to menstruation and patient cases; digitised medical textbooks on menstruation (18th & 19th century); early modern chapbooks.

–  Digitised Scottish Newspapers/ Magazines Databases and Scottish Medical Journals – Including Edinburgh Medical Journal, Glasgow Medical Journal, Caledonian Medical Journal, specific Scottish journals related to Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

Note from Jess Campbell: The materials I have identified and scoped thus far are primarily related to medical history, although I have also begun searching digitised Scottish newspaper/ journal databases and listed some non-medical collections that may have relevant material. The following provides a break down of specific materials within each collection/ catalogue.

Lothian Health Services Archives, Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh

GD1/1 – Centre for Reproductive Biology, University of Edinburgh

3.  Notes by George Mackay from lectures on the Diseases of Women by James Young Simpson, 1850-1851.

5. A-B Notes by F Mann from lectures on the Diseases of Women by J Halliday Croom, 1887-1888. 2 volumes.

6.     6  Notes by F Mann from lectures on the Diseases of Women by J Halliday Croom, 1887-1888.
7.     12A-B B Bernutz and E Goupil, Clinical Memoirs on the Diseases of Women. London, 1967. Published by the New Sydenham Society. Volumes I, II.

8.     27  R Gooch, An Account of Some of the Most Important Diseases Peculiar to Women.

9.     29  A Hamilton, A Treatise on the Management of Female Complaints. Ninth Edition. Edinburgh, 1824.

10.  41  AR Simpson and DB Hart, The Relations of the Abdominal and Pelvic Organs in the Female. Edinburgh, 1881. OS.
GD1/127 – Lecture Notes on Reproductive Anatomy

11.  This item was donated by Beryl Connah who took the notes while a student of nursing at Simpson Memorial Hospital in 1945-1946. The lecturer was Margaret Myles. Mrs Connah used the notes while she was working in Nigeria and during that time some of the pages were lost. The page numbering is recent so does not reflect the lost pages.

12.  Acc 08/12 AS 7/1/2010

13.  1 1945 – 1946 Handwritten lecture notes on reproductive anatomy including obstetrics, post-natal care and anatomical

14.  diagrams.

GD31 – Cervical Smear Campaign and Women’s Health
*May have some potential material relating to menstruation/ activism

This collection was gifted to LHSA by Penny Richardson in 2003, she was a founder member of the Cervical Smear Campaign. She was also a member of the Planning Group for the Scottish Women’s Health Fair, and an active member of the Head On project group. This collection is made up of papers, notes and correspondence collected by Penny, relating to her roles within each of the groups.

Cervical Smear Campaign, 1985-1991
In the early 1980s, because of public concern about several avoidable deaths from cervical cancer, a larger number of women began to go for cervical smears than had been catered for. Until then, the service had been largely opportunistic, in that women were not invited to have a smear on a regular basis. In July 1985, the Lothian Health Board put a freeze on smear tests because existing laboratory facilities were swamped with a backlog of 10,000 un-read slides.

In response to public concern about the freeze, Edinburgh District Local Health Council organised a public meeting, jointly with the Edinburgh District Council Women’s Committee, in October 1985. The meeting was very well attended and an action group, the ‘Cervical Smear Campaign’ was formed. The campaign’s aims were to pressurise Lothian Health Board to lift all restrictions on the cervical screening service in Lothian and to campaign for a fully comprehensive service in Lothian and Scotland.

In March 1986 a petition was launched which encapsulated the Campaign’s aims. The petition demanded: a complete end to the freeze on smear testing; adequate funding so that all women could have a smear every three years; an efficient system of notifying women of the results of all smears with adequate follow-up for abnormal smears; and a full call and recall system to be set up by Lothian Health Board.

Public support for the campaign was massive in Lothian, Fife and the Borders and in July 1986, the petition was presented to Lothian Health Board with nearly 18,000 signatures. The Health Board agreed to look into the petition’s demands and they invited a campaign representative to sit on their Cervical Screening Committee.

In September 1987, the Lothian Health Board announced that 3 yearly screening for women aged 20 and over, a computerised recall system, and automatic notification of all smear check results to women as well as their doctors, would be introduced in early 1988. And in May 1988, the Health Board launched its new screening service which provided 3 yearly screening, a system of notification of smear results and a computerised call and recall system.

In 1987 the campaign became national, joining with the Scottish Health Service Campaign. In November of that year, a second petition was launched nationally, demanding a full screening service across Scotland.

The campaign also worked extremely hard to inform women of the need for cervical screening and the work of the campaign. They gave talks to hundreds of women across the region; they produced information leaflets in the absence of any health education material; and with the Edinburgh Film Workshop Trust co-produced a video entitled ‘Women’s Health and Cervical Smears. The campaign succeeded in raising awareness and changing attitudes towards cervical cancer within the general public, the health board and the media.

Collection includes material from Scottish Women’s Health Fair, May 1983

The Scottish Women’s Health Fair was held on 27th-29th May 1983. It was organised by a group of local women with the backing of the Scottish Health Education Group, and coincided with a conference on ‘Women and Health’ which was held in Peebles on 25-27th May (organised by the World Health Organisation (Europe) and the Scottish Health Education Group). The Scottish Women’s Health Fair aimed to take a wide-ranging look at factors affecting the health of women in Scotland and encouraged local participation and input from Women’s organisations and groups across Scotland. The Fair took place at venues across Edinburgh, and involved stalls, exhibitions, workshops, displays, films and discussion groups etc.

Collection includes material from ‘Head On’ A Women and Mental Health Project 1982 – 1989

Head On was a women’s mental health project, supported by the Scottish Association for Mental Health. It was set up as a core part of the Scottish Women’s Health Fair, May 1983. The aims of the project group were: to help women become more responsible for their own well-being and mental health; and to increase awareness of the politics of mental health for women. The group met these aims by organising workshops and discussion groups; producing information leaflets; and giving talks. They also made the video ‘Mad, Bad or Ill’ with the Scottish Association for Mental Health; and were closely involved in the organisation of the ‘Women Talking to Women’ project.

GD51 – Scottish Eastern Association, Medical Women’s Federation (1915-2012)


The Scottish Eastern Association (SEA) of the Medical Women’s Federation is a Scottish local branch of the larger, national Federation. The Medical Women’s Federation was founded in 1917 as a successor of the Association of Registered Medical Women. The Federation was established in order to provide a shared voice for a growing number of local associations for female physicians. An early concern, which significantly inspired the development of such a coalition, was the unwillingness of the British Government to allow female physicians to offer their services to the war effort.

Other early concerns for the Medical Women’s Federation, which is reflected in the work of SEA, were issues of equal pay and bars on employment for married female medical staff. The difficulty in balancing family and professional roles is a continuing theme in the work of the SEA. A particular issue has been the barriers that female physicians experience when re-entering the workforce following periods of maternity leave. To address this issue the SEA participated in launching a local Retainer Scheme in 1972. The Scheme allowed participants to attend continued training sessions and subside their subscription to the General Medical Council and the Medical Protection Society.

Apart from working towards improved work conditions for female physicians, members of the Medical Women’s Federation have been concerned with diverse areas of public health, from improved cervical cancer screening to mental health reforms. The Medical Women’s Federation have also been active internationally since the early years of its formation; they were a founding member of the Medical Women’s International Association in 1919. In 1937 the SEA hosted the International Association’s Fourth Congress in Edinburgh and helped organise a Scottish post-Congress tour in 1958.

Notable campaign in the history of the SEA are the Bruntsfield and Elsie Inglis Hospital Campaigns. Both Bruntsfield Hospital (1899-1989) and Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital (1925-1988) had a tradition of employing and educating female staff, and are connected with notable female physicians such as Sophia Jex-Blake (1840-1912), Alexandra Mary Chalmers Watson (1872-1936) and Elsie Maud Inglis (1864-1917). Members of the SEA were active in petitioning the government for the continued appointment of female physicians for the Bruntsfield and Elsie Inglis Memorial hospitals in the 1950’s, following changes to the appointment of medical staff. During the closure of the hospitals in the late 1980s members of the SEA partook in lobbing against their closure. They were later on active in the University of Edinburgh Settlement’s project for the establishment of an Elsie Inglis Memorial Care Village. Dr Jan Scott of the SEA was a prominent figure in the later campaigns and her papers from this period makes up a significant part of the collection.

·      Specific campaigns (e.g. Bruntsfield Hospital and Elsie Inglis – mainly seems maternity related)
·      Pamphlets/ Illustrations
·      Annual reports
·      Minutes of Meetings

LHB31  – Hospital for Diseases of Women, Edinburgh (1909-1948)

Opened in 1910 to provide gynaecological treatment for women of moderate means. In 1948 it became part of the Board of Management for Edinburgh Central Hospitals. In 1951 it was amalgamated with Chalmers Hospital and used as an annexe for gynaecological, paediatric and ear nose and throat cases. The original building in Archibald Place was closed in 1968 and demolished the same year.

I have also extensively scoped the Royal Edinburgh Asylum Collection for materials relating to menstruation and madness/ psychiatry which will be the focus of Gayle’s contribution. If there is any interest in seeing these materials I have folders of newspaper cuttings, articles etc.

Special Collections, Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh

To be explored at CRC in upcoming month:
The Student – Student Newspaper
The Student (Magazine)
Wee Red Herrings – Edinburgh Art School magazine

Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh Archives
Material on menstruation in eighteenth-century Scotland  including ‘The Cullen Project’

Correspondence relating to menstruation: .

Mainly consultation letters between Cullen and patients.
This project, a collaboration between the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE), is funded by a major AHRC research grant award. We are creating a publicly accessible, online scholarly edition of one of the most important archives of eighteenth-century medical “consultation letters”.

William Cullen began his career as a medical lecturer and pioneer teacher of Chemistry at Glasgow University []. He rose to international fame as the leading figure in Edinburgh University medical school and served as president of the RCPE. He was appointed the King’s Physician in Scotland and became the most influential medical lecturer of his generation. Alongside his close associates David Hume and Adam Smith, Cullen played an important role in the Scottish Enlightenment.

Cullen’s private consultations survive as a remarkable archive of several thousand letters. These include requests for advice from patients or close family members and referrals from attendant physicians and surgeons. Cullen retained his responses, initially as written transcripts then, from 1781, as duplicates made on a “mechanical copier” invented by James Watt. These exchanges with correspondents throughout Britain and abroad include some sustained autobiographical “illness narratives” and intra-physician exchanges. They provide a rich resource for gaining an historical insight into the experience of illness and the effort to cure disease.

Our edition will have innovative search facilities with supportive editorial apparatus and will be of value to academics, practitioners, students and the general public interested in the history of

–  William Cullen and eighteenth-century medical practices
–  Patients’ stories, illness narratives and medical language
–  Letter-writing and postal communications
–  Food, drink, exercise and travel
–  Social relations, family history

RCPE also holds digitised medical textbooks on menstruation (18th & 19th century) and rarly modern chapbooks and recipe books which contain recipes on treatments for “too much” or “too little” menstruation. In correspondence with the archivist if a visit would be of use.

Glasgow Women’s Library

Fantastic range of resources, Library reopening 1st September but the archive looks like it is closed Dec-Jan for annual re-organisation.

–  PDF from Glasgow Women’s library on menstruation in Dunbartonshire (will attach). It may be that resources used on this are in the Glasgow Women’s Library Archives.

–  Specific Collections that may be of relevance: Scottish and National Abortion Campaign archives; Journals including Spare Rib, Off Our Backs, Trouble and Strife; Newsletters from the Women’s Liberation Movement including Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Scotland; Zines including Yummi Hussi; Essex Riot Girrl; Team Girl Comic and Unskinny; Girls’ annuals c.1950s – c.1980s; Oral histories

–  Research plan: Will arrange visit for upcoming months once the library reopens.

North Lanarkshire Museum Collections

–  Mainly Museum artefacts and an article on women’s health – potential archive here, will get in touch.

–  Article on the ‘hushed history of women’s extra expense’

Massagers/ Blood Circulators (Objects in Museum)

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3. Online/Digitised Resources

All relevant digitised material has been saved in PDF format (ask Jess for these until we get them uploaded here)

List of Search Terms

–  Menstruation
–  Female Complaints
–  Female Ailments
–  Women’s Health
–  Women’s Diseases
–  Menses
–  Menstrual
–  Menarche
–  Menopause
–  Period
–  Tampon
–  Toxic Shock
–  Sanitary Towel/ Napkin
–  Brand Names (Tampax, Lillettes, Mr Whites, Lila, Southalls etc.)
–  Sex Education
–  Sex Hygiene
–  Menstrual Hygiene
–  The curse
–  Monthlies
–  Aunt Flo
–  Time of the month


Online digitised material relating to Scottish material culture, media and images.

–  Some images relating to anatomy, sexual health but limited on menstruation.

–  Images of the first disposable nappy created by a Scottish person, but nothing on other period products.

Scottish Nationalist Leaflets

–  May be useful for contextual purposes. Number of SNP leaflets relating to education. Minimal search results related to menstruation broadly.

National Library of Scotland –Moving Image Collection

–  Minimal search results, except for an education film called “Having a Period” aimed at secondary school pupils that explains the process of menstruation. Dated to 1980, Scottish Health Education Unit.

Online Menstruation Museum

–  Last updated 2018 and a bit difficult to navigate, but the website holds a number of links to potential resources.

–  Materials from across USA and Europe.

–  Some Scottish specific material, although mainly British/ UK generally

Search for Scottish/ Scotland within the Online Museum of Menstruation:
– (Dr Campbell’s measure of menstrual blood)
– (disposal bags)
– (average age of menarche)

UK Press Online (National Newspapers – Mainly Daily Mirror and Daily Worker)

–  Advertisements for Sanitary Towels esp. Lila and emphasis on war time issues

–  Daily Worker’s women’s pages

–  Period product Ads

–  Articles on sex education
Again, not much Scottish specific (are national newspapers)

LGBT Magazine Archive (1970s-Present)

–  Edinburgh, Glasgow and London based but also have the archives for US magazines.

–  Several articles relating to menstruation and HIV/AIDs 1980s

–  Book reviews of literature related to menstruation

–  Menstrual Awareness articles

–  Ad for vibrating tampon

–  Discussions of menstruation/ taboo esp. 1990s/2000s

–  Same search terms used for Edinburgh/ Glasgow based magazines, but very little on search results compared to London.

The Scotsman – Historical Archive

–  Not a huge amount of search results but some good material on sex education in Edinburgh 1920s-1950s

–  Some adverts relating to Southall’s sanitary towels (19th C)

–  Saved PDFs of relevant material

London Illustrated News Online Archives

London-based but does have some interesting advertisements for sanitary towels and “treatments” for “ladies ailments” inducing an electropathic belt (saved PDF examples) mainly 19th century.

Youth and Popular Culture Magazine Archive (1960s+)

–  UK based youth magazines, menstruation gave about 200 search results.

–  A lot of readers writing in (agony aunt columns etc.)

–  Not much Scottish specific.

Medical Journals Online

–  Edinburgh and Glasgow Medical Journals (see Word document with list and links. Have also saved PDFs)

Newspaper stories, NEXUS

–  Research by Abby Li for St Andrews University Undergraduate Research Assistant Scheme 2020 (shared with Li’s consent for the RSE group – but please cite Li if you use any of this).

4. Articles/Secondary Literature

Science Scotland Article: Interesting links between Scotland and Namibia in relation to reusable period products.

Newton, Victoria Louise. “Status Passage, Stigma and Menstrual Management: ‘Starting’ and ‘being on’.” Social Theory & Health 10, no. 4 (11, 2012): 392-407

Moffat, Natalie, and Lucy Pickering. “‘Out of Order’: The Double Burden of Menstrual Etiquette and the Subtle Exclusion of Women from Public Space in Scotland.” The Sociological Review 67, no. 4 (July 2019): 766–87.