The College Archives
Minutes yesterday and today
From Psychiatric Bulletin, September 1997 page 589
The core of the College archives is a series of minute books
recording minutes of annual and council meetings. The first minute
book contains details of the meeting on 27 July 1841 at which the
decision was taken to establish the Association of Medical Officers
of Asylums and Hospitals for the Insane, forerunner of the College.
For the next few years minutes of the Association's annual meeting
were written by hand into this book but this practice ceased after
the Journal of Mental Science was established in 1853 as this
included printed reports of annual meetings.
The earliest council minute book in the archives dates from
1887. There is evidence of a council earlier than this for the
annual meeting for 1856 referred to the appointment of a committee
to deal with urgent business between annual meetings and by 1864 a
managing committee or council was in being. There seems to be no
way of knowing if the minute book starting in 1887 is the first
that was kept or if there were earlier ones that have been lost.
The series of council minutes is complete from 1887 until the
present day but they are no longer recorded by hand in exercise
The minutes are a mixture of routine business and discussion.
From the beginning, the Association appointed special committees,
the first of which was the Registers and Tables Committees in 1841;
unfortunately their reports are not always included. As they came
to be appointed, standing committee reports were regularly
submitted and discussed. Predictably, the amount of business and
discussion increases over the years; some of the minutes of Council
meetings in the 1880s are only a few lines long compared with ten
pages in the early 1970s.
From these minutes it is possible to trace the development of
the Royal Medico-Psychological Association from a small group of
asylum medical officers to a body respected by the medical
profession and consulted by the government. The development of the
Association itself can be traced in the appointment of officers and
standing committees. However, the Association was always mainly
concerned with administration and there are not many references to
Details of annual and council meetings up to the formation of
the College have been abstracted onto a database.