This letter, from the Medical Superintendent's Letterbook, was written by Truby King in 1895 to the family of a patient where he commenting on the differences between the sane and insane. Truby King quotes from Night Walks - Chapter 13 of Charles Dickens' book The Uncommercial Traveller.
"Are not the sane and the insane equal at night as the sane lie a dreaming? Are not all of us outside this hospital, who dream, more or less in the condition of those inside it, every night of our lives?"
This illustrates how the literature of the period provides a way to view 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.
[Archives References: DAHI/19828/D264/6b - Volume 7, page 147]