Management 1879-2001; administration 1889-1979; cases 1902-1994
Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Samaritan Society
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Mrs Elizabeth Cleghorn, the daughter of Lord Cockburn and widow of the Sheriff of Argyll, began in 1874 to help destitute patients in the medical wards of the Royal Infirmary. She visited wards, distributing clothing and sometimes money. When she appealed to her friends for help, the response was so great that, in 1879, a formal organisation was created: the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Samaritan Society. The original aim was to assist patients and their dependants with clothes and money and if the patient were the bread-winner, to help him find employment. Gradually the work was expanded to encompass all the Edinburgh hospitals. Almoners were appointed to identify patients in need, visit their homes and provide help and guidance.
From 1923 the Infirmary appointed its own almoners, who worked in parallel with those of the Samaritan Society. In 1948 the Society's almoners were transferred to the Infirmary's social service staff. Even after the National Health Service came into being the Samaritans continued to work as a voluntary organisation. Their Committee of Management meets regularly with the Hospital's social work staff, in consultation with whom they make grants to tide patients and their families over until official help is given. Sometimes help is also provided in ways not covered by statutory rules and regulations.
For a more comprehensive history of the Society see The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Samaritan Society, 1879-1979 (GD2/9/2).
Chronological within record class
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Ian Cunningham, Keeper of Manuscripts, NLS, March 1995
Compiled by Mike Barfoot and Jenny McDermott using existing handlists
Other Finding Aids
Manual item-level descriptive list available
Transferred to National Library of Scotland
Further accessions are expected