Crichton Royal Hospital was established with an endowment from Dr James Crichton (1763-1823). His wife Elizabeth Crichton was the driving force behind the hospital's establishment and put forward a proposal to use the funds for “founding and endowing a lunatic asylum in the neighbourhood of Dumfries” in 1833.
The institution, originally called Crichton Institution for Lunatics, opened on 3 June 1839 with accommodation for around 120 beds, 54 allocated for private paying patients and 50 for pauper patients. It gained its royal title in 1840. Crichton Royal Institution began to be referred to as Crichton Royal Hospital around 1945, and in 1948 it became part of the National Health Service.
Dr W A F Browne, the first Medical Superintendent of the hospital, pioneered the use of moral treatment and encouraged patients to participate in recreational activities. New Moon magazine, written by the patients, is included in the digitised archive as is an extensive body of patient artwork collected by Browne.
An extensive programme of building works was initiated at the end of the 19th century in order to move towards a segregate or colony system, with different buildings for different categories of patient. The hospital was, in many respects, self-sufficient with a farm, laundry, fire service, market gardens, bakery, butcher, tailor and shoemaker.
Crichton Royal Hospital was committed to research in the field of mental health, establishing departments of clinical and psychological research from the late 1930s and early 1940s. The hospital also had a successful School of Nursing until 1971, and in 1951 Scotland's first Children's Psychiatric Unit was opened at the hospital, followed by an Adolescent Unit in 1972.
The digitised archive covers the period from 1823-2008 and includes records on :
- the founding of the hospital
- management and staffing
- administration and finance
- patient admissions and casenotes from 1838-1913 (patient records after 1913 have not been digitised)
- recreation and occupation
- prints, engravings and drawings.
The original papers may be consulted at the Dumfries and Galloway Archives Service.
Explore The Crichton Royal Hospital papers
The digitised Crichton Royal Hospital papers are available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license. They can be downloaded and reused for non-commercial purposes only, so long as attribution is given to Dumfries and Galloway Archives and Local Studies.
Browse the full list of papers from Crichton Royal Hospital