Resources for Teachers and Students
This Album contains questions for teachers and students to assist their exploration of the history of the treatment of mental illness in New Zealand. This exhibition could be used as a resource to support the teaching of the New Zealand History Curriculum.
This Album includes a letter written by Truby King in 1897, from the Medical Superintendent's Letterbook, to the family of a patient where he is commenting on the differences between the sane and insane. Truby King quotes from Night Walks - Chapter 13 of Charles Dickens' book The Uncommercial Traveller.
This illustrates how the literature of the period provides another way to see archival records in their historical and cultural contexts. Other perspectives could be provided by music or art of the period.
Digital images of the Medical Superintendent's Letterbooks
Some of the digital images of letters from the Medical Superintendent’s Letterbooks may be difficult to read because the copies of the letters in the Letterbooks were produced using the process of letterpress copying. This illustrates to students the changes in copying technologies. This technology has resulted, over time, in the ink fading, blurring around the edges of the hand writing and because of the thinness of the page, some show through of information from subsequent pages.
The letters will give students practice in deciphering the handwriting found in archival documents. The Letterbooks also show something of the record keeping practices of the time - they are annotated with page numbers for previous and subsequent correspondence with the same person or on the same topic. The inwards letters to the Medical Superintendent are likely to have been filed and registered separately. The inwards letters are not extant.
Other resources to consult are:
The book, Unfortunate Folk: Essays on Mental Health Treatment 1863-1992, edited by Barbara Brookes and Jane Thomson (published by the University of Otago Press, 2001) documents in more depth aspects of the history of mental health treatment. This book is available through public libraries and the library you are studying at.
The Report of the Seacliff Asylum Inquiry is published in the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand (AJHR 1891 Session II H29). The AJHRs also contain the annual reports of the Inspector General of Mental Asylums where he is reporting on the management of all asylums in New Zealand. The AJHRs are available at larger public libraries.
The are also the annual reports for the Dunedin Lunatic Asylum in the Otago Provincial Government Appendices to the Provincial Council's Votes and Proceedings.
The website PapersPast has newspaper reports of the proceedings of the Inquiry as well as reports relating to Seacliff Lunatic Asylum generally.
Two famous patients of Seacliff Mental Hospital (later Cherry Farm Mental Hospital) were Lionel Terry and the writer, Janet Frame, both of whom provide perspectives on the experience of mental illness and their treatment.
For more information see the Wikipedia articles on Seacliff Lunatic Asylum and Frederic Truby King as well as the biographical essay for Truby King from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.
A biography of Frederic Truby King, In a Strange Garden: the life and times of Truby King, by Lloyd Chapman, is available online on the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre's website.
More information about Archives New Zealand's holdings is on our ARCHWAY database and in our Mental Health Research Guide.
Size: 2 items