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Kirsty Gray

Finding Your Ancestors in the Asylum (England & Wales)

Mental health hospital records are becoming more readily available across the UK. They are an indispensable source for family historians, particularly the admission and discharge registers and case books. They can indicate the nature of a patient’s illness and how that illness was treated, they can confirm important genealogical information such as family relationships and dates of birth, admission and discharge or death, and, perhaps most importantly of all, provide some historical background into an ancestor’s life and the circumstances surrounding their illness. Researching asylum records can open up Pandora’s Box. This lecture will highlight what life would have been like for asylum patients in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as providing case studies which will include primary source documentation.