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Stop 11: Early Health Services at Aberdeen General Dispensary, Vaccine and Lying-in Institution, 1823
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Stop 11: Early Health Services at Aberdeen General Dispensary, Vaccine and Lying-in Institution, 1823

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Historic Photographs
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Stop 11: Early Health Services at Aberdeen General Dispensary, Vaccine and Lying-in Institution, 1823
We have to use our imagination a little as the street known affectionately by locals as the 'Gushie' no longer exists other than Provost Skene's House which has the address of 45 Guestrow. In 1823 The General Dispensary, Vaccine and Lying-In Hospital opened in Guestrow, a street that ran parallel to Broad Street from where approximately the Illicit Still is today to where it joined Upperkirkgate.

The General Dispensary, Vaccine and Lying-in Hospital gave free medical advice and treatment to all that required it. These early health services were provided for poorer families often living in the East End of Aberdeen who couldn't afford to pay for medicine, vaccines or to see a doctor. Although a team of doctors were employed at the Institution, young medical students from across the road here at Marischal College also undertook some of their training at the Institution.

The Lying-In part of the Hospital was for women who, once they had had their babies, would 'lie in' for a few weeks as they had such poor living conditions at home. In 1880 it was recorded that 3327 cases were dealt with in that one year alone. It wasn't until 1892 that midwives were employed, recognizing the need for specialist nursing care for pregnant women. This greatly improved the nursing care provided and understanding of the specific needs of mothers and babies.

A famous daughter of Aberdeen who has shaped midwifery throughout the world is Maggie Myles (1892-1988) who wrote her groundbreaking book Textbook for Midwives 'With Modern Concepts of Obstetrics and Neo-natal Care' in 1953, the year before she retired. Maggie produced a further nine editions, each kept up-to-date with the latest developments and best practice. The book has been translated into many languages and is recognized as the leading international textbook for midwives. The book is now in its 15th edition. Born in 1892 in Aberdeen the daughter of a housepainter and former domestic servant Maggie Myles life story is truly remarkable. Migrating to Canada soon after leaving school Maggie would rise to become the director of midwifery education in Philadelphia and Detroit before returning to Scotland in 1939 to be Midwifery Tutor at Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion in Edinburgh.

Memories:
Heather's memories of Billie Maver and the General Dispensary
Nora recounts her memories of Maggie Myles
Edith shares her memories of Maggie Myles
Guestrow
Aberdeen Women's Alliance
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