Asylum records: files, notes, casebooks, and patient registers

Sarg, C., McGeachan, C. and Philo, C. (2022) Asylum records: files, notes, casebooks, and patient registers. In: Millard, C. and Wallis, J. (eds.) Sources in the History of Psychiatry, From 1800 to the Present. Series: Routledge guides to using historical sources. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY, pp. 13-29. ISBN 9780367541231 (doi: 10.4324/9781003087694-2)

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This chapter introduces three principal types of asylum record that can be used by historians of psychiatry: case files (also known as admission or reception papers), patient registers, and case notes (or casebooks). The chapter touches upon the origins of and rationales for such records, noting calls during the nineteenth century for an increasing standardisation of their contents. It also attends to the different sorts of information provided in these sources, addressing both quantitative and qualitative approaches to their analysis. It underlines the different sorts of subjects and issues that can be illuminated through such records, also acknowledging their limitations in terms of accessing the intimate experiences and voices of asylum patients and even staff. Using a case study approach, the chapter demonstrates how researchers might deploy asylum records when answering pressing questions within the history of psychiatry, notably about how specific dimensions of cultural identity – often stereotyped and ‘pathologised’ in various ways – have become entangled with diverse asylum ideas and practices.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McGeachan, Dr Cheryl and Philo, Professor Christopher and Sarg, Dr Cristin
Authors: Sarg, C., McGeachan, C., and Philo, C.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > D History (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies
College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Published Online:18 April 2022

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