Information Services

Wellcome Trust Research Bursaries

List of Collections eligible for Wellcome Trust Research Bursaries.

Logo for the Wellcome Trust

The Centre for Research Collections, including Lothian Health Services Archive, have been fortunate to be awarded a number of grants from the Wellcome Trust’s Research Resources programme to conserve and catalogue some of our key collections. In order to make the most of this work, the Wellcome Trust has further introduced a Research Bursaries scheme to support individuals working with these materials.


The scheme is for small to medium-scale projects (usually in the range of £5,000 to £25,000) and must focus on collections either supported by previous Wellcome Trust Research Resources grants or held in the Wellcome Library. Projects aren’t restricted to one single repository of collection, and the bursaries are not just open to medical historians and academics! Applications by conservators, artists, performers and broadcasters, amongst others, are also strongly encouraged.


More information on the scheme is available on the Wellcome Trust website. If you have an idea you’d like to explore, please do get in touch with us to discuss it. We’re keen to hear about new ways to explore the records we hold and the heritage they represent.


The following collections are eligible for a Wellcome Trust Research Bursary:

Twentieth-century medical case notes

LHSA holds the second largest collection of medical case notes in the UK , including around 1 million folder-based patient records. These offer a rich resource for researchers from a variety of disciplines, from medical humanities to clinicians, genealogists and social historians.


Case notes are documents produced during the treatment and care of an individual patient, and record the patient’s journey in a variety of ways, ranging from typed summaries to a range of charts, handwritten notes, x-rays, photographs, drawings and letters.


Around 30% of LHSA’s case notes have now undergone conservation and two significant groups of records have been also made accessible for research through extensive cataloguing: over 26,500 neurosurgical case notes of Professor Norman Dott and over 25,000 case notes from the Royal Victoria Hospital and Southfield Sanatorium.

Edinburgh and Lothian HIV/AIDS collections

LHSA holds a number of collections which chart the unprecedented rise of HIV and AIDS in Edinburgh and Lothian. Edinburgh saw its first case of HIV diagnosed in 1983, and as the decade went on the city’s infection rate rose to nearly seven times the national average. The scale of infection prompted a number of varied organisations to work together to produce an innovative and progressive response, and the success of their initiatives served as a model for subsequent prevention and education activities across Scotland.


The collections, covering the period 1983-2010, combine the records of the NHS, local government, charities and campaign groups to document these medical and social responses at a local level. Taken together, they offer a multi-faceted picture of the approach to fighting HIV and AIDS, and their scope is hard to rival in any other UK repository .


In recognition of their significance for our shared documentary heritage, 11 of these collections were added to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) UK Memory of the World Register in May 2011. They are largely comprised of loose paper documents, but also include many other modern materials, such as photographs, slides, floppy discs, balloons and condoms. These 11 collections, and an additional HIV/AIDS collection, have been fully conserved and catalogued, opening up their potential as valuable research resources. More information on the individual UNESCO-recognised collections can be found in the source list, and more information on the conservation project is available on the project page.

Towards Dolly: Papers of the Roslin Institute of Animal Genetics and pioneering geneticists

Edinburgh has always played a central role in the study of genetics. These collections, covering the years 1866-2011, document the pioneering research that has been carried out here from the foundation of Britain’s first genetics lectureship in 1911; to the ground-breaking discovery of the mutagenic properties of mustard gas during WWII; and the creation of the famous Dolly the sheep, the first animal to be cloned from an adult body cell.


The Wellcome Trust has supported a number of projects relating to the University of Edinburgh’s animal genetics collections, and thanks to their funding 21 of these have now been catalogued and preserved. The collections are vast, and include rare books, scientific papers of pioneering institutions and individuals, photographs, glass plate slides, and oral histories with contemporary geneticists.


More information about the collections, including catalogues, can be found here on the Towards Dolly website.

Documenting the Understanding of Human Intelligence: the papers of Professor Sir Godfrey H. Thomson (1881-1955)

Sir Godfrey Hilton Thomson was an English educator and pioneer in intelligence research who is predominantly recognised as the creator of the ‘Moray House Test’, an intelligence test given to every 11 year-old child in Scotland in 1932 and 1947. Thomson’s test aimed to level the playing field between children from rural and urban backgrounds, and he strove to design a test that would reflect ‘native wit’ or innate intelligence as adequately as past learning.


Thomson’s papers are immensely important to the study of human intelligence. The collection - which includes research papers, teaching materials, personal papers and photographs - reflects his influences and interests, and document how his life developed from his training as a physicist to holding the Bell Chair of Education at University of Edinburgh (1925-1945).


More information can be found on the project website.

The child in context: the papers and books of W. R. D. Fairbairn

Leading psychoanalyst of the twentieth century William. Ronald Dodds Fairbairn (1889-1964) is recognised as a key figure in the development of psychoanalysis in relation to childhood and development. He had a particular interest in children suffering from trauma, and his sensitive studies of child abuse have recently begun to garner him greater attention. 


Fairbairn’s papers, held at the National Library of Scotland include correspondence, diaries, records of consultations and lecture notes, and have now been catalogued together with his personal library of around 400 books in order to re-establish the intellectual links between the two collections. Held at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections, Fairbairn’s library includes many key texts from the golden age of early twentieth-century psychiatry and this outstanding resource sheds light on the development on psychoanalysis and its application in treatment.


More information can be found on the project website.

Evergreen: Patrick Geddes and the Environment in Equilibrium

Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) was a pioneer of the environmental movement and one of the greatest social thinkers of his time. Amongst his multiple and broad ranging research interests, Geddes was fascinated with the organization of human societies and their spatial manifestation in the city.  He examined closely the problems encountered by expanding cities and urban development; housing, overloading, congestion, water supply, sanitation etc., and developed a highly individualistic theory of societies and cities. 


In October 2016, the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh and the Archives and Special Collections at the University of Strathclyde commenced their collaborative, Wellcome Trust Research Resources-funded, project ‘Evergreen: Patrick Geddes and the Environment in Equilibrium’.  This is a two-year project  which aims to preserve, conserve, catalogue and virtually reunite two collections of papers of Sir Patrick Geddes held in both institutions.  Combined, the collections contain over 4000 plans, over 1400 photographic items, and in the region of 175000 other items comprised of papers, notebooks, and correspondence amongst much more.  The collections, which are actually two parts of an original whole, are of international significance.

More information can be found on the project website

Body Language: movement, dance and physical education in Scotland, 1890-1990

'Body Language’ is a joint project between Edinburgh University Library and the Fergusson Gallery, Perth, in partnership with the Moray House School of Education. This project, which commenced in October 2017, will catalogue, preserve and make available archives relating to movement and dance pioneer Margaret Morris, the records of Dunfermline College of Physical Education and the archives of Scottish Gymnastics.


Comprising papers, audiovisual material, objects, rare books and journals, these collections are valuable resources for understanding developments in how the human body has been understood in relation to health, wellbeing, education, sports and the arts from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth century. The project website is forthcoming but more information can be found on the project blog.

University of Edinburgh’s MD Theses, 1726-1851

These MD theses represent a remarkably continuous longitudinal sample of what was taken to be cutting-edge medical knowledge over the past two and a half centuries. Their importance goes beyond the history of medical alone, to tell us much about the changing nature and content of medical knowledge, and the changing methods of knowledge production. The theses are of genuinely international importance, and the training they embody had repercussions around the world. A substantial part of the original thesis library belonged to Andrew Duncan (1744-1828), Scottish pioneer for improved institutional care and treatment of mental health problems, and founder of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. This collection was composed of 148 volumes containing 1,944 individual theses.