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William Hey's Casebooks

Rebecca Bowd Portrait
Rebecca Bowden introduces her research.
Register of circulation from LGI
William Hey's casebooks
reading across sources
primary sources in phd research

The only way of establishing for certain that a book has been read is to find evidence of a person reading it. Usually this takes the form of a personal account of reading recorded in a letter, a diary, or even in a surgeon's notebook.

William Hey kept a written record of cases he treated while he was a surgeon in Leeds in the eighteenth century. They include details of patients' symptoms and any treatment given. Two sets of his notebooks survive in Special Collections. One set of twelve volumes relates to the medical and surgical cases he treated between 1763 and 1809, and includes details of his treatment of the politician and slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce. The other set of ten volumes refer to the obstetric or midwifery cases he treated between 1759 and 1807. The notebooks are indexed and many of the cases are dated.

William Hey's name had frequently appeared in the Register of Circulation of the Infirmary Library. After discovering that his notebooks were in Special Collections I set about cross-referencing the dates he borrowed and returned books in the Register of Circulation with the cases recorded in his medical and surgical notebooks.