Friday, 4 August 2017

40,000 Scottish Mental Health Records

We have been working along with a very hard working team of volunteers and we have now reached a milestone in our project to index Scottish mental health records. We have indexed the first 40,000 entries.

If you have not used these records before you will be amazed by them. Sometimes the stories are sad, sometimes reassuring, but there are so many stories to tell. For example here is an excerpt from the entry of Jean McTavish or McAlpine. Jean was aged 60 and a widow, it seems that the ‘supposed cause’ of her health problem was intemperance. Below is an account of what a doctor observed. It seems she imagined herself to be only 26 years of age, and that she was a bird.

Reading these records makes the people come to life in our minds, I can almost picture poor Jean in front of the official, looking rather older than her 60 years perhaps, but all the while believing she was only 26. Granted, this record does not answer all our questions, but it makes Jean real. It tells us more than the basic records and it preserves the memory of poor Jean for her descendants.

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