Records of individual hospitals – management committees, administration, patients and staff records etc. These records spread from the 18th century to this current date.
Location of records
Sheffield Archives, though printed annual and other reports may also be available at Sheffield Local Studies Library.
Not all archive material is stored onsite and we may require notice of the items you wish to see. Please contact us to confirm when we can retrieve items for you.
Please note however that access to some records may be restricted under the Data Protection Act and may also be subject to exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act.
We can normally supply copies of private study purposes, subject to the usual copyright and access restrictions. Please contact us for further information.
The first modern hospitals, established in the 18th and early 19th century, were the voluntary hospitals and public dispensaries set up as charitable foundations.
Sheffield’s first hospital was the General Infirmary (later the Royal Infirmary) which opened to patients in 1797. Later 19th century foundations included Beckett Dispensary and Hospital in Barnsley (1864), Jessop Hospital for Women (1864) and the Sheffield Children’s Hospital (1876).
Set up under the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, developed their own hospitals or infirmaries to accommodate the sick and infirm poor. These were taken over in 1930 by local authorities and run as Public Assistance Institutions for the elderly or as hospitals.
New names were often brought in then: Sheffield Union workhouse at Fir Vale was opened in 1881 and was the forerunner of the Northern General Hospital; Barnsley District General Hospital, successor to St Helen Hospital, had its origin in the infirmary wards of Barnsley workhouse.
The County Asylum Act
Was passed in 1808. Only Sheffield’s most serious lunatic cases were, however, sent to the West Riding Asylum in Wakefield (opened 1818).
The others were accommodated in the workhouse until the South Yorkshire Asylum (later known as the Wadsley Asylum, later Middlewood Hospital) was opened in 1872.
The later 19th and early 20th centuries saw the establishment by local authorities of specialist hospitals and sanatoria to treat tuberculosis, smallpox and other infectious diseases.
Local authorities were also responsible for maternity and child welfare, and clinics were set up, with a network of health visitors under the Medical Officer of Health.
National Health Service
At the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948, existing hospitals were extended, others merged or closed, and entirely new ones were built.
Since the early 1990s hospitals been managed by Trusts which are commissioned to provide services to the community.
More recently still, some hospitals are now managed as Foundation Trusts, run by local managers, staff and public, with more freedom in operating services.
Types of records available
Sheffield Archives is the designated place for the deposit of Sheffield and Barnsley hospital records. Unfortunately the records of some hospitals have patchy survival and for several there are no detailed records of patients.
The main series are:
- administrative records including minutes, annual reports, rules, newsletters, photographs
- staff records: registers and wages books of those who worked at the hospital including the nursing and domestic staff.
- plans of the site and other papers relating to the buildings
- admission registers: these can include the date of discharge, transfer or death as well as patient’s name, address and illness
- medical records: including operation registers, consultants’ case notes and patient files.
Original paper records.