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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

The College Archives

Archive Collections

Accommodation: Accommodation agreements, leases, plans etc for the College and its predecessor bodies, late 19th and 20th centuries.


Anniversary: Various items relating to 150th anniversary in 1991 of the establishment of the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums and Hospitals for the Insane.


Appeals: Minutes, correspondence etc relating to College Appeals, 1972-88.


Asylum plans: Asylum plans and photographs, 19th and 20th centuries.


Badges, medals and seals: Royal Medico-Psychological Association nursing and other badges and medals.


Campaigns: Publicity and administrative material for Defeat Depression Campaign, 1990s, Stigma Campaign, 1999 onwards and other campaigns; fact sheets and press releases, late 1980s onwards.


Deposited papers: The College does not as a rule accept the papers of individuals. The deposited papers mentioned below have either been in the College since before 1987 or were accepted by personal arrangement by the Honorary Librarian in the 1990s.

  • Dr Alexander Walk: history of the College and its predecessor bodies and on psychiatry in general.
  • Drs Barraclough: Curb project, Eliot Slater's tribute, neurosurgical units and psychosurgery, all late 1970s.
  • Dr Clark: minutes, constitution of the proposed College, 1960s, on the College Ethical Committee, 1974-7 and on the misuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union, 1970s.


Divisions: The oldest divisions date from the 1890s although there were earlier regional meetings in Ireland and Scotland. The archives of the divisions are incomplete and include only papers from the following divisions:
Minutes, mainly 20th century, of the Chiltern and Thames Valley, East Anglian, Midlands, North East, North West, Northern and Midland, Southern, South East, South West and Welsh Divisions.

Faculties: The faculties developed from sub-committees of the standing Research Committee, established 1927. The faculty/section archives are mainly from the late 20th century and include the following:
Minutes of Child and Adolescent, Forensic, General and Community, Learning Disability, Liaison, Old Age, Psychotherapy, Research and Clinical, Rehabilitation and Social and Substance Misuse Psychiatry Faculties/Sections.

Foundation Archive: Minutes, correspondence etc on negotiations for the Royal Charter and for College status, mainly 20th century.


Groups: Minutes and correspondence from the Audio Visual Group, Biological Psychiatry Group, Mental Health Informatics Group, History Group, Management Group, Philosophy Group, Private Practice in Psychiatry Group and Transcultural Psychiatry Group, mainly late 20th century.

Joint Committees: Minutes and correspondence from the Medical Planning Committee, British Geriatric Society, British Paediatric Association, British Psychological Society, Nursing Liaison Committee and College of Occupational Therapists, mainly mid to late 20th century.

Manuscripts: The College does not collect manuscripts; the following few items either relate to the history of the Association or were received by donation before 1987.
Institutional records: Camberwell House, Otto House, Hanwell, and unidentified asylum
Personal papers: Freud, Sigmund (4 letters); Galton, Francis, Meyer, Alfred; Miscellaneous: letters to Samuel Tuke; portraits of contributors to Tuke's Dictionary of Psychological Medicine; album of MPA chairmen and presidents; scrapbook by Henry Winsley-Stolz.


Meetings: Proceedings and programmes for annual and other meetings, 1924 onwards.


Membership Records: Membership lists were printed in the Journal of Mental Science from the 1850s to the 1960s; these are in the College Library. Year Books from the 1930s to late 1969s listing members are in the archives.


Nursing Examinations: The (R)MPA organised examinations for asylum attendants or nurses from the 1890s to the 1950s.
Lists of successful examination candidates 1890s-1950s; nursing committee minutes, nursing examination papers and booklets, nursing certificates.


Photographs: Photographs of members, non-members and groups, mainly 20th century.


RMPA and College annual reports and annual reviews.


(R)MPA minutes: minutes of annual, Council and quarterly and some divisional meetings, 1841-1970, have been abstracted onto a database available in the College Library. The majority of these minutes have been printed in the Journal of Mental Science. Minutes of the standing Education Committee, 1893-1970, and Parliamentary Committee, 1906-70, have also been abstracted onto this database. These minutes have not been printed and are in the archives. This database includes the dates and places of meetings, key participants and key decisions.


Special Committee on Unethical Psychiatric Practices/SCOUPP
Minutes and correspondence, 1970s to 1990s


Some collections of printed material are stored with the College Archives. These are as follows:

  • Hospital histories: a small collection of hospital histories and asylum reports from the mid-19th to the late 20th century.
  • Nursing handbooks: A series of Handbook Committees produced 'the Red Handbook' for mental nurses and the 'the Green Handbook' for mental deficiency nurses. The College holds most, but not all, editions and also holds the 1931 edition of the Green Handbook.
  • Old Publications: Reports, statements and guidelines that no longer represent current College policy, plus statements issued by the (Royal) Medico-Psychological Association, and some 19th and early 20th century items of general interest.
  • Parliamentary papers: Acts of Parliament relating to asylums, lunacy and mental health from the 17th century onwards; evidence and other supporting material; reports of the Commissioners in Lunacy and the Board of Control and of Lunacy Commissioners in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
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