Contents: The diary begins on Christmas 1841 and continues through to August 1842. It largely consists of a day-to-day account of Hitchcock’s experiences as an inmate at Lancaster asylum. In addition, Hitchcock wrote poetry in the diary. Her descriptions present the hospital as reasonably clean and well equipped, with a nicely decorated day room, clean table cloths, outside space and access to a fire. She compares her sleeping lodgings with two other women (men being confined to a separate wing), who change throughout the course of the diary.
Frustration is apparent, particularly in regards to residents being locked in their lodgings for large parts of the day. It is not noted why this occurs. Hitchcock is occupied in part by the sewing of various garments, given and taken away by the Hospital. Multiple entries discuss her infant son, James, who was taken out of her care due to her poor mental state. He was being looked after by a woman named Mary Austin, whom Hitchcock describes as an ‘affectionate nurse.’ Austin’s death in June 1842 is recorded in the diary.
The journal gives insight into the importance of religion for the author, with descriptions of various Psalms and Scriptures being a reoccurring theme throughout. Hitchcock seems particularly concerned with asking God to help deliver her from the situation she is in, and to clear and support a healthy frame of mind. As well as her religious feelings, the dairy contains Hitchcock's reflections on freedom of speech, the disposition of the human mind, and various historical events. Such reflections are well-balanced and informed.
Hitchcock took particular care in noting down the names of visitors to the asylum. She reflects on their kindness, and despite limited access to writing materials, presents them with copies of her own and others writings. She also records conversations with Dr James Bower Harrison, her caseworker, whom she convinces she is of sound state of mind.
ScriptThe Diary is written in small but easily legible handwriting.