NOTES ON THE RECORDS
The records of the asylum have in general survived remarkably well, although more on the medical and patients' side than on the administrative side. In most cases the documentation is extremely detailed and its importance to medical, social and family historians cannot be over-estimated.
Only a small number of minutes and accounts are extant from the nineteenth century and the main sources for the administrative history of the asylum are the full sets of Annual Reports, 1849 - 1959 and Medical Superintendents' Journals, 1853 - 1930. There are also staff records dating from 1849.
It is the patients' records however which are the most complete, with a few notable exceptions. The admission and discharge registers date from the opening of the asylum in 1837 and the fine series of detailed Case Books dates from 1845. The Case Book for the first 575 patients to be admitted, 1837 - 1844, is unfortunately missing, although a Charity Case Book begins in 1839. There is also a good sequence, with some gaps, of reception orders and medical certificates, 1851 - 1930.
Changes in legislation often resulted in changes in record-keeping practices, most notably in 1906 and 1930. Consequently the twentieth century documentation becomes more complicated, with the introduction of civil, medical and patients' registers and the replacement of the old Case Books by Case Files.
The collection also contains records of the building and opening of the new asylum at Narborough, including plans and a fine set of photographs taken by the Medical Superintendent, Dr Rothsay Stewart.
A general 'cut-off' date of 1930 was applied for this first deposit, although some modern files, out-patients clinic records and other more recent items were taken. A summary list of records (excluding case files) retained at the hospital was made in January 1994 and it is anticipated that these will be deposited in advance of the hospital's final closure in 1996.
Various smaller deposits of records were received between 1992 and 1994, after the initial cataloguing had been completed, and these have been incorporated into the accession. This has necessitated some re-numbering of documents, with the addition of letters and sub-numbers.
Certain records, in particular those of patients, are subject to closure periods under the Public Records Act 1958. Full details are given at the start of the catalogue and all items affected are clearly marked.
TRACING A PATIENT
Owing to the complicated nature of the patients' records (the numbering and cross-referencing systems and the gaps in and variation of records at certain dates), it is not possible to cover every possibility in the following guidelines; however it is hoped that they will be of help in the most typical enquiries. See also the explanatory notes in the catalogue.
1. Four indexes to patients, c.1855 - c.1945, exist (ref. DE 3533/141-144), but these are of limited use as the reference numbers given only correspond to a few of the surviving registers (see notes in catalogue). They may be useful if there is no idea of the dates a patient was in the asylum or for general searches for a particular surname.
2. The most common way of discovering that a person was a patient is through a death certificate or burial register recording the place of death as the County Asylum. There are various registers which record deaths, especially DE 3533/152 and 179-181, covering the period 1890 - 1949; these give the date of admission, leading directly to the records mentioned below.
3. The most complete listings of patients may be found in the registers DE 3533/145-146, which record admissions, discharges and deaths in chronological order from 1837 to 1947. It is therefore possible to work back from the date of death or discharge to find the date of admission. These cross-refer to the Case Books, DE 3533/185-203 (1845-1900), described below, and the Civil Registers, DE 3533/260-265 (1907-1947).
4. The Case Books, DE 3533/185-224, record the fullest details of patients and are arranged numerically and chronologically by date of admission.
5. Much information is also given in the reception orders/medical certificates, DE 3533/225-246, arranged in yearly bundles in order of admission, 1851-1930 (some gaps).
6. The above records contain virtually all the available information on a particular patient. Depending on dates, there are other records in the collection which may be of help e.g. registers of patients, c.1920-1960, records of private and charity patients, letter books, other discharge registers and medical journals and registers. The best course is to scan the catalogue for any records for the dates during which the patient was in the asylum.