On Wednesday 10 May, Dr Jane Hamlett from Royal Holloway will be lecturing on Inside the asylum: Material life in lunatic asylums in Victorian and Edwardian England. The history of lunatic asylums is an important one in York and is widely reflected in the collections of the university.
|Perspective view of the North front of the Retreat, York.|
Watercolour by Peter Atkinson, Borthwick Institute for Archives.
The Retreat was founded by and for the Society of Friends and opened in 1796 with 12 patients. It attracted attention for the success of pioneering mild methods of treatment of the insane under superintendent George Jepson (1797-1823). In the 20th century the Retreat was known for its willingness to explore new treatments and in pioneering greater professional training for its nurses. The Retreat collection was transferred to the Borthwick Institute for Archives in 2001.
The Rare Books collection at the university looks after the working library of the Retreat founders and staff including William and Samuel Tuke, George Jepson and other medical superintendents. Its strength comes from being one of only a few intact working specialist libraries on insanity. There are around 300 books dating from the 17th to the early 20th century, mostly dealing with psychiatry and mental illness including:
- Theories of insanity;
- Care of the insane;
- The brain;
- Criminal lunacy;
- Mental hygiene;
- Mental deficiency; and
- The controversies at the York Lunatic Asylum.
|William Tuke from Samuel Tuke: his life, work|
and thoughts, Tylor C (1900). London: Headley
A project to digitise the Retreat archives finished at the beginning of this year. More information about the wealth of material now available can be found in #RetreatTweets and a series of posts on the Borthwick blog.
For further information please email Rare Books Librarian email@example.com.