Tuesday, 5 August 2014

An Index to Historic Scottish Mental Health Records Goes Online

The Mental Health Foundation say that “1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year”. As a society of people we have become better at understanding mental health problems, although there is still a lot of room for improvement. The sad reality is that our ancestors didn’t have the understanding, support or treatment that we have today.

Have you had an ancestor ‘disappear’? Have you scoured the census and passenger lists just to draw a blank? Have you come across an ancestor listed in the census as an imbecile or idiot? Did you feel hurt for the poor soul and want to understand more?

With the help of a team of dedicated volunteers we are indexing the "Notices of Admissions by the Superintendent of Mental Institutions".

Today we have uploaded an index to the first 619 records (from 1858 and 1859) and we will be adding more on almost a weekly basis. Follow me on twitter or Facebook to keep up-to-date.

The original records can not only be genealogically useful but they can also help you peel back the layers of history and uncover your family story. Why did your great-great grandmother leave her children? Why did nobody ever talk about your great-great-uncle?

The original documents, which we can help you research, contain two doctor’s accounts of what they observed the patient to be like and what relatives had reported. These reports may say, for example, that the patient became withdrawn after the death of a husband or the birth of a child. Some report the symptoms started after financial losses or disappointment in love.


  1. Unfortunately the ones I am seeking are in the basement of Hairmyers. In a box. Unindexed. And without an archivist. :/

  2. Hi Christine,

    The great thing about the records we're indexing is that they cover the whole of Scotland, from 1858. It means that even for hospitals where their records remain mouldering in a basement we will come across the corresponding record sent to Edinburgh.

    There can still be an advantage in looking at the local records (they will be more detailed) and I hear a number of local authorities have some good plans in the pipeline!

    If you're looking for a specific person, email me and I'll see what we have here.