Papers of Leslie Theodore Hilliard

Scope and Content

Papers of Leslie Hilliard, a leading specialist in mental disabilities in the mid-twentieth century.

The collection largely covers Hilliard's professional life and his work in the field of mental deficiency, which he performed across numerous capacities. The material mainly covers the period from 1948 until 1977, roughly the years from the beginning of the NHS through to Hilliard's retirement from his last significant post. The main themes running through the collection concern the conditions and future of the Fountain Hospital, his work with the World Health Organisation as a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health and papers stemming from the inception of the Institute for Research into Mental Retardation until his retirement from the Board in 1977. There are large amounts of material covering his arrangements and visits overseas as well as reports, book reviews, reprints, newspaper cuttings and personal letters.

Administrative / Biographical History

Leslie Theodore Hilliard was a psychiatrist specialising in mental deficiency. In particular he was concerned with improving the education and treatment of children suffering from mental disabilities so that they could be integrated into normal society. Hilliard also aimed for greater awareness and education of mental disability issues amongst the wider population. He was educated at Westminster School and Jesus College, Cambridge, and was married to Elizabeth Hilliard [Bunbury].

From 1945-1961 Hilliard was the Superintendent Physician at the Fountain Hospital in Tooting, London. In this role he strived to improve the conditions of the Hospital, originally built in 1893 as a temporary structure. The hospital was overcrowded and dilapidated but remained open until 1963. From 1959 onwards patients were moved to the more spacious facilities available at Queen Mary's Hospital in Carshalton and the Fountain Hospital was later demolished. The site is currently the location of St. George's Hospital. Hilliard was a keen proponent of the NHS and also argued strongly for changes to outdated mental health legislation. He assisted in drafting proposals for new legislation in his role as Chairman of the National Association for Mental Health [MIND].

In addition to his work at the Fountain Hospital, Hilliard also served two terms as a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health of the World Health Organisation (1953-1958 and 1958-1963). In this role Hilliard assisted with several notable reports including 'The Mentally Subnormal Child', 'European Seminar on the Mental Health of the Subnormal Child', 'The Epidemiology of Mental Subnormality', and 'Report on Mental Deficiency Services in Ceylon'. As well as his work with the World Health Organisation, Hilliard also received several invitations from other overseas organisations to research, study and lecture in mental disability issues, including the Government of Hong Kong (1960), New Zealand's Ministry of Health (1959), and the Postgraduate Committee in Medicine at the University of Sydney (1959). He also served a 6 month term as a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto (1962).

After retiring from his post as Superintendent Physician Hilliard continued to serve the hospital as Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist and also held two roles as Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at St. George's Hospital and Maudsley Hospital (the latter of which he held until 1963). Having lived near the site of the Fountain Hospital for much of his time there he and his wife moved to Bath shortly after his retirement.

Hilliard continued to be active in retirement and was involved in the formation of the Institute for Research into Mental Retardation (later the Institute for Research into Mental and Multiple Handicaps). He served as Honorary Treasurer of the Institute from 1966 until 1974, though he remained a Member of the Board until 1977. The Institute was a place of research into mental disabilities and, although an independent organisation, was initially set up and funded by the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children [Mencap].

Hilliard was also a long-term member of the Socialist Medical Association [Socialist Health Association] and following appointments as Treasurer and Vice-President of the organisation, Hilliard later served as the organisation's President between 1970-1971. Outside of medicine, he was also a member of the William Herschel Society in Bath. Hilliard died in 1997.


Much of the collection remains in its original order although some arrangement has been imposed. Overseas Work has been arranged chronologically and work with the World Health Organisation has been arranged according to specific projects and then chronologically.

The material is arranged into the following sub-groups: 

  • HIL/1 Fountain Hospital
  • HIL/2 Overseas Work
  • HIL/3 World Health Organisation
  • HIL/4 Institute for Research into Mental Retardation
  • HIL/5 Personal
  • HIL/6 Ephemera

Each of the sub-groups is arranged into further series or items.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

This finding aid may contain personal or sensitive personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) has the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately, according to the Data Protection Principles.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

Duplicate copies of material and printed books have been removed from the collection.


Hilliard, L.T., "Discussion on community care of the feeble minded", Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, Vol. 49 1956.

Hilliard, L.T. & Kirman, B.H., Mental Deficiency (London, 1957).

Hilliard, L.T., "Mental Retardation: A World View", Canada's Mental Health: 32 (Ottawa, 1962).

Hilliard, L.T. & Kirman, B.H., Mental Deficiency 2nd ed. (London, 1965).