Researching Case Recors and a talk from Dr Hughes
The session began with a visit from Dr Hughes, a retired psychiatrist who kindly talked to the group about the mental health system, putting into context some of the reasons for the Victorian Asylums being built and also for them no longer being required as policy changed. Dr Hughes also spent time answering participants questions about their case records, explained some of the medical interventions used, medical terminology and gave an idea about what life may have been like in the 19th Century Asylums. There was a lot of discussion about the way that mental health conditions were classified during the 19th Century and today.
Participants then spent time researching their case records. It was nice to see so many interesting questions being asked by the group and a buzz of interest while looking through the 19th Century documents in the Search room. Some of the participants who went into the Search room ordered 19th Century case books to find other times when the person they were studying had been admitted. We noticed that in the older case books, the writing was very difficult to read and also photographs were less frequently taken. Some participants looked at the admissions records where they learnt additional information such as who referred the patient to the Asylum. Through this we discovered many of the patients had previously been residents of a workhouse. Afterwards participants dispersed across the room to pursue separate avenues of research, some read through the Parish Registers on microfilm and others used the computer to look at the Census returns.
Participants were given an information pack which included details about their local libraries, how to join, relevant courses and the online resources available to them. This also included details about The Heritage Centre based at the Millennium Library, where archive specialists from the Norfolk Record Office also work. The aim is for participants to use their local resources to continue their case record research.
Looking forward to seeing everyone in the Change Minds group for the Fifth session on Thursday 10th December, to celebrate the end of the first term and a time to reflect and look back on our Change Minds journey so far.