Monday, 23 May 2016

Life in the Asylum

There is no denying that asylums across Scotland varied greatly in the mid-nineteenth century. Some details that were published in the 1857 Royal Commission Report are quite sobering. Some accounts however are quite encouraging. I like the entry for Miss Campbell's House:

"MISS CAMPBELL'S HOUSE, MUSSELBURGH; Visited 2d May 1855.

A good house, in a garden. There is only one patient, an old lady, who has been here many years. She was out walking, accompanied by an attendant, when the visit was made. On a second visit she was seen, and appeared to be comfortable, and properly taken care of."

By searching our index for all entries for “Miss Campbell's House” we see that Miss F. Gordon entered the asylum on 9 December 1812, it’s nice to know that she was so well cared for. The full entry in the General Register tells us that Miss F. Gordon died in August 1869.

There are many surviving records for our ancestors who were admitted to Scottish asylums. The national series of records show the date of admission, some background information and when the person died or otherwise left the asylum. The records of individual institutions, now often deposited in local archives, can give details on treatment and sometimes even contain photographs.

From the new section of our website you can read about each Scottish mental health institution, locate it on a map and in most cases find out where the records are now held. We update our database regularly so keep checking back to see what new records we have indexed.

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