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Friday Update Number Two

Posted on 3 April 2020

Our second full week of remote working has seen 4 more catalogues uploaded to Borthcat, the continuation of valuable hospital indexing work, and unexpected Twitter success!

Staff have continued to work on updating and importing some of our older paper finding aids to the online catalogue.  In addition to the records of York Charity Schools that we added last week you can now search the records of another important York institution for disadvantaged children, St Stephen’s Orphanage, later St Stephen’s Home.  Founded in Precentors Court in 1870, the orphanage moved to Trinity Lane two years later.  The orphanage took in girls from the age of 3 who had lost one or both parents and you can read more about the orphanage and two of its pupils, Winifred and Hilda Brooks, in a piece on the Borthwick Blog: A Tale of Two Sisters.

With the NHS so much in the news at the moment it seems fitting that we have added another one of our NHS related catalogues to Borthcat, the archive of York Community Health Council.  The councils were set up in 1974 following the large scale reorganisation of the Health Service and across England played a crucial role in investigating, inspecting and advising on local health care facilities and changes, including the closure of Clifton Hospital. 

Finally we have added two more of our landed estate catalogues in full.  The Shaw Papers date back to 1582 and include mainly property deeds and manorial records relating to the Skaife family of Braisty Wood in Kirkby Malzeard.  The Skaifes had kept sheep for the wealthy Fountains Abbey in the fifteenth century but following the Dissolution of the Monasteries they became a landed power in their own right, with the Braisty Woods estate passed down through the family until 1869.  The second addition, the Swann Deeds, were gifted to the Borthwick in 1953, the year we were founded, and until now have only been available as a lengthy paper finding aid.  Now you can search descriptions of deeds and other records relating to the manors of Alne and Tollerton, dating from 1618 to 1783.  

Behind the scenes work has also continued on the Borthwick’s historic hospital records.  The Retreat Letters Project comprises descriptions of thousands of letters relating to patients and their families which have been listed by a group of volunteers.  These descriptions are now being prepared for ingest into the online catalogue, with around 2,300 entries due to be uploaded as soon as possible. In the meantime don’t forget that you can look at digitised images of the originals through the online catalogue.  Simply follow the link in the archival description (example here).  We’ve also converted a number of indexes created by volunteers from the York Family History Society into spreadsheets so we can begin importing these to Borthcat as well.  The indexes cover a number of patient case books for The Retreat and Bootham Park hospitals among others and will be an extremely valuable resource for staff and visitors alike when they are made available online.

Last, but certainly not least, we had some unexpected success on Twitter! Social media is one of the many ways we are able to keep in touch with our users in these strange times and we’ve enjoyed sharing interesting news and discoveries from the archives with you.  Our Archives Trainee John sent out a Tweet on Wednesday and it did pretty well so we’ll end this update with a little bit of Borthwick humour