Wednesday, 19 November 2008

'Flu pandemic

While I was working in the National Library of Scotland's stacks on the India Papers Collection I had a look at some of the Sanitary Commissioner's annual reports from 1918, when influenza swept the world and killed millions. Thousands were killed in the Madras Presidency; in some districts as many as between 30-50,000 people. One problem was the superstitions of the people, particularly in rural areas:"Several people, mostly in the interior, were averse in the beginning to resorting to a medical treatment under a superstitious belief that the epidemic was a visitation of the Goddess or Amman and that no treatment by drugs should be attempted." (Annual report of the Sanitary Board, the annual report of the Sanitary Commissioner and the annual report of the Sanitary Engineer, Madras 1918)
Meanwhile the European Army in India had 19,308 men admitted to hospital and 775 deaths. As in the rest of the world, the second wave in autumn 1918 caused high mortality amongst sufferers.

(Francine Millard)

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Scottish Cemetery Kolkata

Off a busy street in Kolkata lies a little corner of Scotland - the old Scottish cemetery, containing the remains of hundreds of Scots who made their home in what was the heart of Imperial India. The decaying cemetery is now the subject of a project by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). At the invitation of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage and the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust, RCAHMS staff are on their first field trip there to assess the damage and draw up a restoration plan.
Names from the interment register will be added to a database, and the team will not only restore the monuments, but help create a green space for the city.

You can follow the team's progress in their blog.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Medical History of British India - on microfilm, too

All 136 volumes from the Medical History of British India project Phase 2 have all been microfilmed and are available to view at the National Library of Scotland. To view what’s on each reel, including Phase 1, enter Mf.IP in the search box on the main NLS catalogue and then select the shelfmark option. The volumes themselves will be returning to the shelves by the end of November; some will be undergoing conservation treatment first, however.
The digital images are undergoing renaming, sorting and conversion to Jpeg format. Then they will be processed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) so that you can fully search them when they are online next spring . I can’t wait for that, especially to look for names of Indian Medical Service officers.

Francine Millard.