Papers relating to York Lunatic Asylum

Scope and Content

These papers all relate to the controversies at York Lunatic Asylum in the early 19th c. Samuel Tuke was one of the reforming party who eventually effected reform in the asylum's staffing and management, and he subsequently became closely involved in the running of the asylum. He was particularly aided in the campaign for reform by the energetic West Riding Magistrate, Godfrey Higgins
These papers include material and printed tracts produced at the time of the controversies; there are also annual printed reports and rules of the York Lunatic Asylum from 1814 up to the 1830s; and the original correspondence of Samuel Tuke and Godfrey Higgins, which later came into the possession of The Retreat from their descendants. There is also some material relating to Tuke's part in the 1814 Bill to reform Madhouses
Many (although not all) of the printed Tracts produced in the York Asylum controversies are found here (this includes a volume which belonged to, and was annotated by, Godfrey Higgins).
York Local History and Archives Department at 'York Explore', Museum Street, York, has further copies of tracts: it has a volume marked Tracts on the Asylum, which includes two more Tracts of 1814, one by 'Corrector' and one by Charles Atkinson, as well as an anonymous Tract of 1816 called Incontestable Proofs, a Tract of 1818 called An Appendix to a Book lately published called Incontestable Proofs, and a Tract of 1818 called Remarks on an Appendix to Incontestable Proofs. On the other hand, the collection below includes some items not in the Local History and Archives Department volume
The story of the reform of York Lunatic Asylum can be found in the article by Anne Digby, 'Changes in the Asylum: The Case of York 1777 - 1815', Economic History Review, second series, XXXVI (1983), pp. 218 - 239
There is a full list of the tracts published during the asylum controversies in the appendix to the catalogue for Bootham Park Hospital [York Lunatic Asylum] archive at the Borthwick Institute (there are no tracts in the Bootham Park archive itself)

Alternative Form Available

Much of the Retreat Archive has been digitised with funding from the Wellcome Collection. Copies of digitised records can be viewed online where available by following links provided within the catalogue.

Additional Information