Countdown to War


, , , , , , , , , ,

Several blog posts last year reported on our John Rylands Research Institute-funded project to catalogue the European foreign correspondence in the Guardian Archive. Sandra Cruise has been continuing this work, and reports on the foreign correspondence dating from 1936-1939:

The Guardian foreign correspondence is a rich source of material for historians, providing a fascinating and detailed narrative of the events and political machinations in Europe in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War.

The correspondence comprises letters, telegrams, dispatches, confidential notes and scribbled messages, exchanged mainly between the editor, William Percival Crozier (or occasionally other members of staff), and five of his foreign correspondents: Alexander Werth in Paris, Marcel Fodor in Vienna, Charles Lambert in Berlin, and the septuagenarian Robert Dell in Geneva; Frederick Voigt, by this time, acts as diplomatic correspondent from the London office, having been removed successively from Berlin and Paris for his personal safety, assisted by Swiss refugee, Max Wolf, and exploiting a network of underground German contacts. From their vantage points in major European cities are viewed the events of the years 1936 to 1939, a period characterised by the growing threat of war, and chronicling the shifting alliances, Hitler’s expansionism, and including the continuing Nazi terror, the Stalinist purge of the mid 1930s, and, from mid 1936, the Spanish Civil War and its repercussions.

It is not so much what the papers say, as what they don’t say; the archive contains a great deal of information which did not make it into, or was never intended for the paper’s columns for whatever reason, be it confidentiality, diplomacy, or simply lack of space: the details of articles and letters omitted or heavily edited; names withheld for the writer’s or subject’s own safety; the views of the correspondents, their interviewees and the editor himself. Most of all, the archive reveals the confidential sources and reports of private conversations previously known only to the correspondents and the editor, sent for the purpose of verifying a story, or keeping the editor informed. A scribbled pencil message from Frederick Voigt to the editor gives confirmation of German and Italian assistance to the rebels in Spain via his receipt of a decoded message from Franco to General Mola: ‘the offensive on Madrid can begin…as soon as the Italian planes are ready…our identity is known to Berlin’.

Scribbled message from Voigt reporting on the content of a decoded message from Franco.

Scribbled message from Voigt reporting on the content of a decoded message from Franco.

Besides being a narrative of the inter-war years, the correspondence also gives an insight into the status of the paper, how the correspondents worked, their relationships with the editor and each other, and also with other papers and journalists. The paper, under Crozier’s editorship, built up a reputation for foreign news, particularly letters to the editor from significant foreign figures. On 2 September 1936 Crozier told his men that the Manchester Guardian led the way in foreign correspondence and letters on topics from abroad, and he frequently urged them to actively encourage people they encountered to write to the paper. The archive contains many letters or accounts from, or about victims of the Nazi persecution, and the Stalinist purge in Russia, whose identities had to be concealed for fear of reprisals, even if the writers were no longer resident in the country in question. The paper led the way in reporting the atrocities of the Nazi regime; Voigt’s pioneering reporting of the German concentration camps had already made him a Gestapo target as, in Crozier’s words, ‘the most serious opponent of Nazi Germany in the English press’, and necessitating his removal from mainland Europe. The paper was banned indefinitely in Germany in September 1936. Of all the English papers, only the Manchester Guardian and the Yorkshire Post were independent; the Telegraph was viewed as the voice of the establishment, while Voigt commented that the Nazis ought to be grateful to The Times for its editing of the articles of its Berlin correspondent.

The dangers faced by many of the correspondents and the immediacy of the situation make compelling reading. Voigt reports picking up fragments from his balcony and hotel corridor when his side of the hotel in the Gran Via in Madrid was shelled.

Extract from letter of 30 April 1937 in which Voigt describes picking up hot fragments of shell on his hotel balcony.

Extract from letter of 30 April 1937 in which Voigt describes picking up hot fragments of shell on his hotel balcony.

Both Voigt and Werth visited Spain during the Spanish Civil War in an attempt to discover the truth about the terror and the reaction of the ordinary Spaniard in the street. Voigt’s desire to venture into unchartered territory was quashed by Crozier, who forbade him to enter rebel territory, as the Germans, who were assisting Franco, would get to know that he was there, and might see it as an opportunity to ‘get rid of him’. Charles Lambert in Berlin, tired of the stress of living in Nazi Germany, expresses relief at being able to live in a ‘normal country’ without being ‘spied on’, whilst covering Paris during Werth’s holiday in August 1938. Fodor was forced to flee Vienna in the American Military Attaché’s car at the time of the Anschluss in March 1938, and spent the next year or so one step ahead of the advancing Germans in Europe, as he moved from place to place. Dangers did not always come in the guise of foreign attackers, however; Voigt faced problems closer to home, as he was more than once libelled by other journalists and writers.

In this telegram of 13 May 1937, Voigt announces that he is leaving Barcelona for Toulouse. Crozier responded to this with a note expressing his relief that his correspondent was well.

In this telegram of 13 May 1937, Voigt announces that he is leaving Barcelona for Toulouse. Crozier responded to this with a note expressing his relief that his correspondent was well.

Managing the team of correspondents was not always an easy task, as the editor strove to manage the different and strong personalities, to avoid any clashes with the paper’s policy and prevent any differences of opinion from spilling over into the columns. Being at the sharp end of events, many a correspondent gives vent to their frustration, particularly at the lack of understanding of the European situation. On a holiday to England in August 1936, the veteran Robert Dell cannot conceal his exasperation:

‘I find opinion here worse than I thought. It terrifies me. The ignorance of people that ought to be well-informed about the real situation on the Continent is alarming and the apparent indifference to what may happen even more so. I saw Blum and Delbos in Paris and I fear that they are both humbugged by Eden and the F[oreign] O[ffice]. They appear to have acquiesced in allowing the Nazis to do as they like in Danzig.’

He concludes that Hitler ‘is likely to be master of Europe in about six months without firing a shot’ and states that if he were in England, he would support Churchill, who ‘recognises the danger of Fascism in England.’ Yet, at the same time, there is an acknowledgement amongst the correspondents that England needs time to re-arm and gain strength, Voigt predicting in August 1937 that England would not be ready until 1939.

One of the archive’s strengths lies in its chronicling of the developing situation in the smaller and lesser known countries of central and south-eastern Europe by the Vienna and Balkans correspondent, Marcel Fodor – areas which were becoming the victims of Hitler’s expansionism and influence. Fodor will be the subject of a future blog post.

The archive continues until December 1939, and gives a snapshot of the conditions for both paper and correspondents in the first weeks of the war – the censorship, difficulties in communication, plus the overriding uncertainty. Crozier wonders how many men he will lose from his staff; the paper, already suffering from a paper restriction in the period before the war, is now restricted to twelve pages. Looking for safe, yet significant news gathering centres in which to base their correspondents had already been a problem; they had struggled to find a suitable haven for Fodor, a Hungarian Jew, after the Anschluss, in a Europe becoming increasingly German dominated; the other correspondents’ futures were now also in question. Lambert was still expecting to return to Berlin after covering for Werth in Paris some ten days before war was declared; after various suggested destinations, he eventually was dispatched to Stockholm. Werth, recuperating in Glasgow after a bicycle accident, returned to Paris to take over from Lambert, while Dell, by now 74, had retired and was contemplating more American lecture tours. Fodor himself, who was also working for the Chicago Daily News, for whom he was in Morocco, Tunis and Algiers around the time of the declaration of war, eventually found himself in the Hague. Evelyn Montague, working in London as Bone’s deputy, was dispatched abroad as war correspondent.

Extract from a letter written by Voigt on 4 September 1939, the day after Britain declared war on Germany. He speculates on potential bombing targets, commenting that there is nothing worth bombing in Manchester apart from the Manchester Guardian.

Extract from a letter written by Voigt on 4 September 1939, the day after Britain declared war on Germany. He speculates on potential bombing targets, commenting that there is nothing worth bombing in Manchester apart from the Manchester Guardian.

Amongst all this, it is sometimes possible to catch a glimpse of the people behind the messages, their characters and their background, such as Dell’s outspoken, heartfelt views, and his penchant for listening to dance music while he worked. Occasionally, the correspondence affords a brief glimpse of domestic affairs; there is a passing reference to the abdication crisis and the activities of King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson. Closer to home, Lambert sends Crozier a newscutting from a German paper concerning the discovery of the St John fragment in the John Rylands Library. Interestingly, Alexander Werth also had a connection to the University of Manchester – he acted as senior Simon Research Fellow from 1953 to 1955.

Images in this blog post are reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

The Jeff Nuttall exhibition: thoughts from the developer behind the app visualising his life


, , , ,

Veneta Haralampieva writes:

Hello everyone,

My name is Veneta Haralampieva and I have just graduated from the University of Manchester obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. You might be wondering what a Computer Science student and Jeff Nuttall have in common. Well, I am currently working on a web-based application which aims to provide a visualisation of the relationships between Jeff Nuttall and other artists by utilising his archive held in the Library, which soon you will be able to visit. But don’t worry: I won’t bore you with a bunch of technical things about the app itself. Instead I would like to tell you about my tour around the library.

20160707_133457 (2)

Veneta Haralampieva examines items from the Jeff Nuttall Collection in the Collection Care Studio at the John Rylands Library.

A few weeks ago I and my supervisors and colleagues from the university were offered a unique private tour around the library led by Janette Martin who works there. It is needless to say how excited I was to actually physically see some of the items from the archive I have been working with only digitally (for which I am deeply grateful to Imogen Durant who has digitized all the content).

Our tour started from the Christie Room, which is an exquisite Victorian-style room with wooden chairs and tables where one feels like a hero in a J.K. Rowling novel, exploring the world of magic. We were then taken to the area where the Jeff Nuttall exhibition will be, which was yet another stunning room. I can definitely say that I would love to see how the curators will intertwine the Victorian style of the room with Nuttall’s very modern Sixties look and feel. I am sure it will be a wonderful mix which would make the exhibition even more enjoyable and it will be worth seeing.

What Happened to Jackson

Cover of Jeff Nuttall, What Happened to Jackson (London: Aloes Books, 1978). R226249. Copyright The Jeff Nuttall Estate.

Afterwards, we found ourselves in the most famous area open to the public where one could book a desk and enjoy reading in this marvelous building. After a short wander around we were taken through a metal gate, normally not for use by visitors of the library, which led to a small stairwell. Following Janette and climbing the old stairs carefully we came out into the upper floor of the room, overlooking the visitors below. Janette told us that this is where usually PhD students and researchers have desks to carry out their daily work. How amazing would that be! For a Computer Scientist like me, who has spent the last four years in buildings like Kilburn (where there is little sunlight and definitely no Victorian wooden desks) this looked simply astonishing. Quiet, beautiful and relaxing atmosphere where one could focus without getting interrupted and really engulf in the work to be done. We took the scenic walk around this area and came out of the other side of the room, again taking an ancient looking staircase and exiting through a metal gate.

Our final stop was the research room, which was located in the newer part of the building. The John Rylands Library is outstanding in the way it allows the new and modern to flow into the original style of the building. In there we got to see some of the actual works that will be on display on the exhibition. But don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything for you:) We got a closer look at some of Jeff Nuttall’s publications and his collaborations with other artists which was fascinating. It is incredible how artists from different countries communicated extensively and influenced each other’s work. This is what I truly hope to visualise with the application, the magnitude of the international collaboration. Another thing that I found very impressive is the unique artwork on all the book covers. They seem to illustrate the main ideas of each piece and capture the imagination of the reader. We explored some of the material very carefully (some of it handwritten letters from and to Jeff) and I pondered the fact that we are in fact just seeing a fraction of this man’s life and there will be so much more which has never been recorded and no one will ever know about.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and so did our lovely tour. So we made our way out and into the rainy streets of Manchester and I returned to my work, with one goal, to try and capture some of the extraordinary life of Jeff Nuttall.


The Manchester Histories Festival: What We Learned.


, , , ,

On the 11th June, the John Rylands Library Special Collections put together a stall for the Manchester Histories Festival which focused upon the Guardian Archive.

Manchester Histories Festival Stall

We had a couple of aims for the day, to publicise the collection and promote its use, and also, if possible, to gather information from the collective memory of Manchester. The second of these objectives evolved whilst material for the stall was being selected. The Guardian Archive contains a number of photographs, many of which were taken by their staff photographer, Walter Doughty.

These photographs show employees at the Manchester Guardian and Manchester Evening News at work, carrying out the various functions required to produce a daily newspaper. The majority of these photographs don’t include descriptions, or dates, and they feature equipment and practices that we were not always able to confidently identify. Our hope was that we might meet someone at the Histories Festival who would be able to assist us.

Luckily for us, we did!


One of our favourite pictures, of the last horses to retire from the newspaper’s delivery service in 1952, generated a memory in one of our visitors. He remembered seeing an article published at the time the horses were retired which included this photograph, and that described the distinctive chocolate and gold livery of the horses.

We also had the good fortune to have a visitor who had worked for a number of newspapers during the 1950s and 60s, and provided us with details including:


The employees in this picture are operating linotype machines, which were used for typesetting. The keyboards pictured produced lines of metal text for use in the printing press.



Guardian Archive Images

The printing press pictured is a Crabtree Viceroy Rotary Printing Press. The size of reels used for printing is determined by the number of pages to be printed. A broadsheet requires a 60 inch reel.




The employee in this picture is working as a fly hand, and would remove completed copies of the paper from the press by hand. The paper for each copy was measured in quires, and the speed of the printing press could be altered using the control panel pictured in the top left hand corner of the picture. This could, on occasion, be used by employees to play pranks, as it was easy to amend the speed on a machine in passing and increase the speed of work for an unsuspecting colleague.



There was a date attached to the delivery vans in this photograph of 1955, but a visitor who was more versed in the history of automobiles suggested to us that the cars pictured were far more likely to be from the 1930s.


We also heard an anecdote about C.P. Scott, who, in later life, reportedly fell off his bicycle whilst cycling home in the snow, and was aided by a policeman who, not recognising Scott as editor of the Manchester Guardian, expressed indignation that an elderly man had been kept at work so late in inclement weather!

The information we gathered at the Manchester Histories Festival enhanced our knowledge of the collection, and as a bonus, I got to hear people from the city talk about their pride in the origins of the Guardian. My opening explanation that the Guardian was originally the Manchester Guardian proved to be quite unnecessary, as more often than not, it was greeted with: ‘Oh, we know!’

We also learned from a visitor that the John Rylands Library had been built in what was, at the time, Manchester’s red light district…but that may be a story for another blog post.

For more information on the Manchester Histories Festival, please visit:

Images from the Guardian archive are reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

Techniques for recovering lost texts


, ,

CHICC Manchester

Research Fellow Renate Smithuis and Research Associate Stefania Silvestri, are working on a Catalogue of Codices, Scrolls, and Other Texts in Hebrew Script in The University of Manchester Library.

The Library holds one of the most important smaller collections of Hebrew manuscripts in Europe and this project will create a full, online catalogue compliant with current cataloguing and metadata standards. To support the production of the catalogue, digitisation of a number of manuscripts is being undertaken. All images, included fully digitised volumes, are added to the Hebraica Collection in the John Rylands Library Image Collections, LUNA.

A substantial portion of the Rylands Gaster manuscript collection have already been selected for digitisation, including a number of manuscripts that suffered water damage during the Second World War. The level of water damage varies, some texts are still legible but faint, others have whole sections of pages rendered illegible.

The Heritage Imaging…

View original post 884 more words

The Other Captain Swing: Eric Hobsbawm, Jazz and Popular Culture


, , , ,

On Thursday 30 June 2016 at 5.30pm Professor Peter Bailey, Visiting Research Fellow within the John Rylands Research Institute, will give a ‘musical lecture’ on Eric Hobsbawm, popular culture and jazz music.

All are welcome to this free event which will be held in the John Casken Theatre at the Martin Harris Centre, The University of Manchester, Bridgeford Street, off Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL. For further information, telephone: 0161 275 8951.

The Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama is situated on the south side of Manchester city centre in the heart of the University’s campus. It is located just behind the Manchester Museum, on Oxford Road, approximately a mile south of the city centre. The Centre is easily accessible by public transport networks.

Peter Bailey, from the University of Manitoba, currently holds a joint fellowship between the John Rylands Research Institute and the Newberry Library in Chicago. His research project, entitled ‘Fun Factory’, is a study of the social history of British music hall and variety stage, 1840-1960. He is also an acclaimed jazz pianist.

Other Captain Swing

John Rylands Research Institute Conference 2016: ‘The Other Within’


, , , , ,

‘The Other Within’ – The Hebrew and Jewish Collections of The John Rylands Library

Monday 27–Wednesday 29 June 2016 at The John Rylands Library150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH

Registration is now open!

The second John Rylands Research Institute conference will convene scholars, curators and students researching areas represented in the John Rylands Library’s valuable and wide-ranging Hebrew and Jewish collections, including: the Cairo Genizah; medieval Hebrew manuscript codices; early printed Hebrew books; Samaritan manuscripts; and, the collections of Moses Gaster. The full programme is available for download on our website.

Key speakers include: Ben Outhwaite (University of Cambridge), Reinhard Pummer (University of Ottawa), Brad Sabin Hill (George Washington University Libraries) Emile Schrijver (University of Amsterdam), Ilana Tahan (British Library), Esther-Miriam Wagner (University of Cambridge and Woolf Institute).

The public keynote lecture will be delivered at 6-7pm on Tuesday 28 June at the John Rylands Library by Sarit Shalev-Eyni (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) on, “New Light from Manchester on Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts: The John Rylands Collection and its Significance”. The lecture is free to attend, and open to all. To find out more and book a place, visit our Eventbrite page.

Delegates are invited to register to attend the conference via our website. Places are very limited, so we would encourage delegates to attend for as much of the conference as possible.

Enquiries should be directed to:

This event is supported by the European Association of Jewish Studies’ Conference Grant Programme in European Jewish Studies.



Manchester Histories Festival – 11th June 2016


, , , , ,

The John Rylands Library is part of Manchester Histories Festival Celebration Day 2016 taking place across Manchester Town Hall and Central Library from 10:30-4pm on Saturday 11 June. Bringing together nearly 100 histories and heritage organisations from across Greater Manchester, the Manchester Celebration Day will have something for all the family, including exhibition stands, games, heritage bus rides, craft activities, film screenings, performances and talks.

For more information on the Manchester Histories Festival:

We have chosen to highlight the Guardian Archive at the Manchester Histories Festival, and in particular employees in Manchester, and the machinery used to produce the paper. We are hoping to receive some assistance in identifying some of the more mystifying devices!

reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

The Manchester Guardian was founded by John Edward Taylor in 1821, two years after the Peterloo Massacre. Under the editorship of the legendary Charles Prestwich Scott, it was transformed from an essentially provincial journal into a newspaper of national and international standing – reflected in its change of name to the Guardian in 1959.

The correspondence and dispatches in the archive form an outstanding source for almost every aspect of late nineteenth and twentieth-century history, from the Boer War to Vietnam. There is also a very full set of records relating to the newspaper as a business. The Guardian Archive also contains material relating to its sister publication, the Manchester Evening News.

reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

There are several exciting projects underway to catalogue material from the Guardian Archive and improve its documentation, in order to make the collection more accessible and assist in its use for study and research.

For more information on the Guardian Archive please visit:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Both – and & either – or


, , , ,

As I progress with the cataloguing of C.P. Scott’s editorial correspondence, I have begun to notice patterns and trends. Often, if there is a relationship of long standing with the contributor, letters are initially addressed to Scott, but, later, are exchanged with his successors, Edward T. Scott, William P. Crozier and Alfred P. Wadsworth.

William P. Crozier was editor of the Manchester Guardian from 1932 – 1944, succeeding Edward Scott, the son of C.P. Scott, who died suddenly and unexpectedly, only a few months after his father. Despite the unenviable task of following in such unique editorial footsteps, Crozier did not lack experience. He began work at the Manchester Guardian in 1903, and became C.P. Scott’s right hand man, with responsibilities ranging from news gathering and foreign news, to the introduction of sporting and arts news, and of crossword puzzles.

I have chosen for my second blog post, an internal memorandum written by Crozier to F.S. Attenborough, long standing chief sub editor at the Manchester Guardian, in 1937.

Internal memoranda, notes and correspondence between members of staff at the Manchester Guardian can be found throughout Scott’s editorial correspondence. They’re the early 20th century equivalent of the quick email between colleagues, and include discussion of the general administration of employing external correspondents, the subject and form of potential articles, and also discussion of the individuals with whom Scott is corresponding. These internal memos can be very illuminating, providing insight into the character of the correspondents and context for the correspondence it accompanies. They’re also, frankly, sometimes comically catty.

Manchester Guardian Archive A/A63/7aManchester Guardian Archive A/A63/7a Manchester Guardian Archive A/A63/7aManchester Guardian Archive A/A63/7a

The complaint in Crozier’s memorandum does, in tone and style, verge upon the humorous. To send over 100 memos on the correct use of correlative conjunctions is perhaps a little excessive. It does, however, illustrate a sense of honest exasperation. It must have been equally frustrating for the editorial and sub editorial teams to receive an additional 50 memos on the misuse of the word ‘otherwise’.

However, the memo also provides us with the motive for Crozier’s insistence. The objective of championing the use of ‘the best and most effective English for newspaper purposes’ is to ensure that clarity of meaning is not obscured by grammatical ambiguity. In Crozier’s statement that news articles should be ‘simple, direct, lucid, concise and short’, there is an echo of C.P. Scott’s vision for the Manchester Guardian, outlined in his article for the paper’s centenary.

‘[A newspaper’s] primary office is the gathering of news. At the peril of its soul it must see that the supply is not tainted. Neither in what it gives, nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation must the unclouded face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free, but facts are sacred.’

Crozier’s close involvement in the writing and editing of the paper may then, in part, be a testament to C.P. Scott’s belief in the importance of integrity in journalism. It’s also possible to see this legacy in the current Guardian style guide, which advocates ‘an interest in the language, in its proper use, and its development…’

Whilst acknowledging the on-going and unstoppable evolution of the use of language and grammar, and the interesting ways that the rules by which they are governed can be subverted to improve quality of expression, in this instance, I’d say Crozier may have had a point. If your job is to deliver the news, everyone needs to understand exactly what you’re talking about.

MHAW – The 18th/19th Century Approach


, , , ,


To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 2016, the latest blog from the Manchester Medical Manuscripts Collection looks at some of the attitudes of medical professionals from the 18th & 19th centuries and the forms of treatment they employed.

Two Manchester based physicians, teaching in the city in the first half of the 19th century, make similar comments as to the physical causes of mental illnesses as well as alluding to the overarching lack of knowledge in the area. Richard Baron Howard (1807-1848) comments that insanity is owing to “an abnormal lesion of the brain but we cannot always find any structural lesion but it is admitted by all that the brain is the organ affected in all cases … we can seldom find anything sufficient to explain the symptoms” (MMM/10/2) which Samuel Bardsley (1764-1850) corroborates with the comments “All diseases of the mind are difficult to understand in as much as the physiology of the mind is so little understood. The definition of insanity is very hard to give & hardly any two authors agree to giving the same definition.” (MMM/23/1/10)

Medical descriptions of psychiatric problems at this time tend to focus largely on the physical and can be all too brief. The belief stated by many that all mental illnesses were caused by some hard to identify organic lesion of the brain meant that background information relating to the patient’s social welfare and family and personal circumstances was often completely neglected. One writer on the subject does note the contrast between the accounts of medical professionals and those of close family members, who in contrast often went into great detail about the individual’s life (Akihito Suzuki, Madness at Home, 2006, University of California Press, p.39).  Much emphasis is also placed on the hereditary factor of mental health with many physicians in this period citing it as one of the most common causes and mid-nineteenth century institutional providers of care making a point of investigating family history in their initial assessment of patients.

The theories that the medical profession formulated at this time to explain the causes of mental illness often also informed their treatments. These could be quite varied, based on a doctor’s personal experience with specific patients, and also, like the theories on the causes, be a point of contention between physicians too.  A manuscript whose author is unknown from the late 18th century offers the following view:

“The great object of cure is putting them under restraint as it very much distresses the patient, and this now used is a short waistcoat and this kept on for 2 or 3 days in this manner we will often effect a cure. The restraint by fetters and chords and their struggling with them is very hurtful, an erect posture too is favourable.  They ought not to be kept in their own houses or suffered to be seen by strangers. Fear has been often employed, and it sometimes may have done good, but oftener it has done great harm & great severity too does great harm. I think the strait waistcoat with the awe of a stranger to look over him will generally be sufficient.” (MMM/23/1/10)

Nearly 50 years later in the late 1830s Samuel Bardsley suggests firmness but not severity is beneficial and also warns against the lack of suitable care for those that need it:

“Dr B. states the unpleasantness of having to give evidence in cases of mania. This he stated to be much increased by the knowledge of the fact that there were so few keepers who were really fit for the office of attending upon the patient should you condemn them to confinement. …

“Firmness on the part of the attendants is particularly to be recommended but with this firmness a system of conciliation in manners to be combined. Severe bodily restraint is to be avoided as much as possible as it creates a degree of irritation of mind which tends to retard the recovery of the patient.” (MMM/23/1/20)

The many other common treatments included cold baths, exercise, simple diet, opiates, and bleeding (both general and topical). Purgatives were common throughout the period also, with Bardsley remarking on them as “most important remedies in the treatment of mania. It has been long known that an obstructed state of the bowels is a very common concomitant of this disease.”

Medical men at this time were also known to comment on the higher occurrence of insanity in women than in men referring to the ‘greater irritability of the female sex depending probably in part upon the addition of the uterine system’, with a diagnosis of hysteria in women being very commonplace, and to be the subject of a later posting…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 10,157 other followers