Unlocking the Asylum Project Update

We are delighted to announce the completion of our Unlocking the Asylum project. Over the past two years project staff have been hard at work on the Wellcome funded project. The main of the project was to make the North Wales Hospital collection more accessible for research.

The following goals have been achieved:

  • There is now itemised catalogue of all the records in the collection, these have been catalogued to current archival standards. Prior to the project only a small number of records from the North Wales Hospital collection had been catalogued, and this catalogue was only available in paper format in the archives searchroom. The majority of the collection was uncatalogued and not accessible to the public for research.
  • The series of approximately 30,000 post 1948 patient case files have been indexed and repackaged. The index lists where available patient number, patient name, date of birth, admission and discharge or death date. The diagnosis (if given) is also listed, along with any additional details such as treatment given, outpatient information, psychiatric social work notes, number of admissions, referral information, artwork or notes made by the patient and psychiatric reports for court proceedings.
Patient Files Before and After

The patient files before and after repackaging.

  • The collection has been assessed for conservation needs and following the advice of our Project Conservator preventive preservation measures have been highlighted and put in place. The records have been repackaged into archival standard packaging, protecting them from deterioration.
Flintshire Box Making, Jul 2019

The Project Support Officer building bespoke boxes to house volumes from the collection, Jul 2019.

  • The collection has been assessed for potential future digitisation projects and digital resources.

Staff have promoted the project and the collection at various events including a project launch event, and events for Open Doors. These events featured talks and small exhibitions of records from the collection. The collection was also promoted at external events including the conference of the Society of the Social History of Medicine, the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health conference and the Celebrating Flintshire Women Past and Present event held at Flintshire Record Office.

SSHM Image

Staff promoting the project and collection at the Society of the Social History of Medicine Conference, July 2018.

We will soon be launching our new online resource which will include the updated collection catalogue, guidance on how to use the collection, and information on how to access the records.

We are hosting an evening event on Thursday 28th November to celebrate the end of the project. This event will feature talks from staff about the Unlocking the Asylum project, and a representative of Denbighshire County Council who will talk about the future of the former hospital site. The evening will also include a second chance to view the exhibition of original hospital documents from this year’s Open Doors event. Booking is essential for this event, to book: please email- archives@denbighshire.gov.uk providing your name, number of spaces required and telephone number.

It has been wonderful to see so much interest in the project and the collection. The Unlocking the Asylum project team would like to thank everyone who has supported the project over the past two years.

Lindsey Sutton

Project Archivist (Unlocking the Asylum)

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