Document of the Month - December
Drymen School Log Book and Diphtheria
Stirling Council Archives holds various education records, including a Log Book for Drymen Public School, 1874-1911 (SC5/6/99). The Head Teacher of Drymen Public School was responsible for keeping this log book, which recorded matters such as attendance, staff absences, inspections and prize-givings. Pupil attendance is mentioned frequently. The image below shows entries for April & May 1875 when attendance was often affected by the weather and on one occasion a Village Fair.
Log books do not generally record names of children attending the school unless something of note has occurred. In January 1911, there are entries about a child Maggie Bilsland from Class 3. After the winter break, the School reopened on January 10th, with Maggie in attendance, however, by January 14th Maggie was admitted to Lennox Hospital for Diphtheria, where she died on January 19th. The Head Teacher notes that ‘the pupils in the Senior Room attended the Funeral and sent a Floral Wreath’.
Sitting within the log book is a certificate from the Medical Officer of Health. This would have been given to Maggie’s father, Thomas Bilsland, to show that the house had been disinfected. This was required by the Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1897 when a child was removed to a hospital due to an infectious disease.
The Archives holds a Lair Register for Drymen (PR/DR/9/1) which reveals Maggie was eight years old when she died. The 1911 Annual Report from the Medical Officer of Health (SC/3/3/21) reports this case of Diphtheria:
‘The disease was of a very bad type, and the case proved fatal. A sister of the patient had had a sore throat not long previously, but as she was subject to sore throat the doctor was not called in. On the occurrence of the notified case, her throat was swabbed with a positive result. This led to a bacteriological examination of several throats, including that of a cousin living next door, the cousin is a teacher in Jamestown School, in the Vale of Leven, in Dunbartonshire, where there was in progress an epidemic of diphtheria. The result in each case was negative.’
In 1911, Maggie was one of 56 admissions to Lennox Hospital for Diphtheria, of which eight patients died. All deaths were children under the age of ten. It was not until later in the 1920s that vaccination programmes became widespread.