Fonds MS-13-84 - Halifax Visiting Dispensary fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Halifax Visiting Dispensary fonds

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  • Textual record

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1882-1966 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

1.2 m of textual records

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Administrative history

During the 1850s, philanthropists and medical practitioners in the Halifax area recognised the need to establish a medical and drug clinic for indigent individuals and families in the city. The Halifax Visiting Dispensary (HVD) was thus established in 1856 with the intention of providing free or subsidized medical services and medicine to those in need. Regarded as a "red feather" agency, the HVD was primarily financed by private donations, endowment funds, city grants from Halifax and Dartmouth and the community chest.

For many years the dispensary operated out of a clinic on Brunswick Street. The city morgue was situated in the basement of this building and the HVD had offices on the first few floors. The HVD provided specialized services for the treatment of women and children. In addition, doctors offered daily medical and surgical clinics as well as weekly dental, eye, ear, nose, and throat clinics. The dispensary provided medical services and prescription drugs for diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, diphtheria, small pox, and consumption. For individuals who were too ill to visit the clinic, a rotating staff of doctors would offer home medical services.

In 1924, the HVD moved into the Dalhousie University Public Health Clinic (DUPHC), which took over the medical and surgical work. The distribution of drug prescriptions and surgical supplies, however, continued to be provided by the HVD. Although the HVD was part of the DUPHC, it was still considered to be a separate organisation, had its own Board of Directors, and administrated its own funds. The HVD had a staff of two - a registered Druggist and a certified Clerk. The visiting medical staff of doctors was reimbursed for their work through funds from the dispensary.

Custodial history

The records were donated in four accessions, with the first taking place in 1975 and the remainder taking place in 1987, 2005, and 2012. The records of the 1975 accession were previously in the custody of Col. Samuel R. Balcom and the records of the 2012 accession were previously in the custody of Leslie Pezzack. The custodial history of the 1987 and 2005 accessions is unknown.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of correspondence, financial records, and administrative records such as annual reports and inventories.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Fonds is arranged into six series: Annual Reports; Administrative records; Financial records; Correspondence; Patient information; and Publicity.

Records are arranged chronologically within series where possible, unless otherwise noted.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Patient records and personal information in the following files are closed: 1-10, 2-5, 2-22, 2-23, 2-24, 3-1, 3-4, 3-10, 3-27, 3-28, 3-29, 4-12.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room.

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Further accruals are possible, but not expected.

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