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Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 2SWH
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service
Date(s): 1914-1919
Level of description: fonds
Extent: 7 A boxes
Name of creator(s): Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service (1914-1919) was part of the suffrage response to the First World War. At the outbreak of the First World War, a large number of the existing suffrage societies put their administrative skills at the disposal of the war effort. The Scottish Federation of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, at the suggestion of Dr Elsie Inglis, put forward the idea of female medical units to serve on the front line. The War Office rejected the idea, but nonetheless private donations, the fundraising of local societies and the support of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies financed a number of units staffed entirely by women. The organisation's headquarters were in Edinburgh throughout the war, with committees also in Glasgow and London, working closely with the London office of the Croix Rouge Francaise. The Fawcett Society was particularly involved with the London Unit of the Scottish Women's Hospitals. The first unit mobilised established a 200 bed Auxiliary Hospital at Royaumont Abbey in Dec 1914. In Apr 1915, Dr Inglis herself was at the head of a unit based in Serbia. By Jun 1915 SWH had responsibility for more than 1,000 beds with 250 staff including 19 women doctors. The Austrian offensive of that summer led to their camps being overrun and a number of the staff including Inglis herself being taken prisoner, only to be released after negotiations. By the end of the war there were fourteen Scottish Women's Hospitals in France, Serbia, Russia, Salonica and Macedonia. Inglis herself was ill with cancer by 1917 while working in Russia. She and her unit were part of the retreat of forces to Archangel and she was evacuated to Newcastle on the 25 Nov 1919 of that year, only to die the following day. The Scottish Women's Hospitals work continued until the end of the war.


Scope and content/abstract:

The archive consists of the records of the London Committee of the Scottish Women's Hospitals (SWH): authorisations, correspondence, files, circular letters, telegrams, postcards, photographs, statements of accounts, balance sheets, cheques and counterfoils, reports, lecture notes, lists of donors.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

This material came to The Fawcett Library with material from the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Women's Library also holds the Papers of Elsie Bowerman (7ELB); the Papers of Vera (Jack) Holme (7VJH); a Scrapbook [relating to the Scottish Women's Hospital] (10/22). The Women's Library Museum Collection holds postcards and photographs related to the Scottish Women's Hospital and of several of the women who served. Similarly the Printed Collections holds additional material such as 'The Scottish Women's Hospital at the French Abbey of Royaumont' by Antonio de Navarro (1917); 'The Little grey partridge : First World War diary of Ishobel Ross who served with the Scottish Women's Hospital Unit in Serbia' introduced by Jess Dixon (1988) as well as biographies of individuals such as 'Dr Elsie Inglis' by Lady Frances Balfour (1918)

Letters and reports of Elsie Inglis as well as correspondence, financial records, subscriptions, personnel files and various committee minutes created by the Scottish Headquarters, as well as reports from overseas units are held in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. Additional Materials of members of the units is held in various archives: memoirs of Katherine North née Hodges are in the Leeds Russian Archive; the journals of Mary Lee Milne and Margaret Marx's photograph album are held by the National Library of Scotland; papers of Lilas M Grant and Ethel Moir are in the Edinburgh Central Library; the Lothian Health archives hold the letters of Yvonne Fitzroy; and the Schleisinger Library, Harvard University holds the papers of Ruth Holden.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Finding aid created by export from CALM v7.2.14 Archives Hub EAD2002. Edited for AIM25 by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
In compliance with ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description - 2nd Edition (1999); UNESCO Thesaurus, December 2001; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:

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