This guide highlights primary source material from the Archives and Manuscripts Collection, relating to disabilities.

Societies and associations

Association for Research into Restricted Growth (founded 1969)
Small group of papers, 1969-88, of this organisation set up to deal with the problems of individuals suffering from a range of disorders leading to restricted growth.
Reference: SA/RRG

Association of County Medical Officers of Health (1902-1974) and The County Medical Officers Group of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Also the successor Association of Area Medical Officers of Health (founded 1974)
Files cover all aspects of work of the CMO and AMO. Incomplete but include 1960s correspondence relating to training of staff for care of mentally subnormal, observations of Mental Health Act etc.
References: SA/AMO, SA/CMO

Association of Health and Residential Care Officers (founded 1898, dissolved 1984)
Members involved in residential care, mostly of children and aged, and hospital administration. Correspondence with outside bodies and returns from MOHs relating to training of staff at centres for the mentally subnormal, 1960.
Reference: SA/AHR

British Association of Occupational Therapists (founded 1936)
Records of the English Association, from 1936, and of the merged (English/Scottish Association), from 1974-97.
Reference: SA/BAO

British Medical Association
Files include minutes and papers of the Mental Deficiency Committee 1930-32, other mental health issues, sterilization of mentally deficient, Infantile Paralysis Fellowship, deafness, Disabled Persons Act, and welfare of the blind, etc.
Reference: SA/BMA

Please note: The CMAC only holds part of the BMA archive c.1915-60, the BMA retains most of it.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (founded 1895)
Started as the Society of Trainee Masseuses, includes records of the Society of Remedial Gymnasts and East Surrey Mobile Physiotherapy Unit Ltd.
Reference: SA/CSP

Child Accident Prevention Trust (founded 1979)
Correspondence, reports, newscuttings, etc. relating to CAPT conference 'Disability: the long term consequences of accidents' marking the International Year of Disabled People, 1979-1981.
Reference: SA/CAP/E.1, F/1/4

Eugenics Society (founded 1907)
Work covers many aspects of concern with issues relating to the mentally and physically 'unfit'. Files relating to the proposed Feeble-minded Control Bill, 1910-11, sterilization of the 'unfit', the Problem Families Committee 1947, family charts, pedigrees, photographs of mentally deficient children.
Reference: SA/EUG

Family Planning Association (founded 1930)
Records cover issues of eugenics, birth control, fertility and sterilization. Involvement with child welfare centres, Medical Officers of Health, bodies such as the National Association for Mental Health, and local health authorities.
Reference: SA/FPA

Genetic Alliance UK (founded 1989)
Founded to give a voice to those people affected by genetic conditions. Includes minutes, annual reports, newsletters and other publications, 1989-2010.
Reference: SA/GIG

Health Visitors Association (founded 1896)
Records cover aspects of domiciliary care of the disabled, particularly from 1948 onwards.
Reference: SA/HVA

Medical Women’s Federation (founded 1916)
A few files on matters to do with disability, 1950s-1970s.
Reference: SA/MWF

Mental Aftercare Association (founded 1879 as the Association for the After Care of Friendless and Poor Females Convalescing from Mental Illness)
Annual reports, 1887-1993, minutes, 1913-, correspondence about homes and administration 1940s-, plus patient case agendas, scrapbooks and photographs.
Reference: SA/MAC

Multiple Sclerosis Society (founded 1953)
Head-quarters and branch files, also files relating to the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies, 1953-76.
Reference: SA/MSS

National Association for the Prevention of Consumption and Other Forms of Tuberculosis (founded 1899), successor and associated bodies
Ran various schemes for suitable occupational training of the tuberculous, as well as providing sanatorium treatment and grants for sufferers, and aftercare facilities, etc.
Reference: SA/NPT

National Birthday Trust Fund (founded 1928)
Surveys on cerebral palsy, 1940s-50s and "mongolism" 1940s-1960s and subject files on congenital malformations and similar topics 1950s-1960s.
Reference: SA/NBT

Patients’ Association
Some material relating to health services for people with disabilities and people suffering from medical injury in section D, 1970s-90s.
Reference: SA/PAT

Research Board for the Correlation of Medical Science and Physical Education (founded 1942, closed 1956)
Records of research into health in many areas, 1943-1955, include observations and recommendations relating to rehabilitation in industry and in the armed forces.
Reference: SA/RBC

Society of Medical Officers of Health (founded 1856)
The sphere of activity of MosH, which changed and expanded considerably over the period of the Society’s existence, included a number of responsibilities relevant to various forms of disability, reflected in this collection, including material on employment and training schemes.
Reference: SA/SMO

Strangeways Research Laboratory (founded 1905)
Includes correspondence with various bodies relating to arthritis and rheumatism research.
Reference: SA/SRL

The Thalidomide Society
Founded in 1962 as Society for the Aid of Thalidomide Children (but also included children with similar disabilities), and joined with the Lady Hoare Thalidomide Appeal). Provided support for families with thalidomide children, research into, and supply of, useful technologies, a holiday homes, and other schemes. Records of the Society, which is now largely run by thalidomide-disabled individuals themselves,  since its foundation.
Reference: SA/TSY

World Federation of Occupational Therapists
Institutional records, 1950-2007.
Reference: SA/WFO

Wellcome archives

Archives of the Historical Medical Museum, 1899-1985
Include material on various disabling conditions and correspondence with philanthropic bodies.
Reference: WA/HMM

Other collections

Robina Scott Addis (1900-1986),social worker
Papers covering aspects of the domiciliary care of those with physical and mental problems.
Reference:  PP/ADD

Sir Francis Avery-Jones (1910-1998)
Correspondence relating to the use of the ‘Thumb Stick’ as a walking aid, 1990-1.
Reference: GC/198/B/1/3

Arthur Sydney Blundell Bankart MA, MCh, FRCS (1879-1951), Orthopaedic Surgeon
Material relating to the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions and orthopaedic surgery 1911-40s.
Reference: PP/ABB

James Randal Hutchinson (c.1880-1955) and  William Henry Bradley (1898-1975)
Material acquired as Principal Medical Officers, Ministry of Health, on polio, 1930s-50s.
Reference: PP/JRH

Allan Broman (1861-1947)
'Notes on medical gymnastics' including case histories 1885-1901 for rehabilitation treatment following illness or accident and for postural defects.
Reference: GC/6

Sir Richard Cave (1912-1988)
Files on his philanthropic activities include Disabled Christians Fellowship, International Holiday Camp & Rally for the Disabled, and Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for the Disabled.
Reference: GC/220

Charterhouse Rheumatism Clinic
Miscellaneous items relating to the clinic, established in Southwark in 1928.
Reference: GC/47

Sir Weldon Dalrymple-Champneys (1892-1980)
Material relating to the Haemophilia Society, 1957-67.
Reference: GC/139/H.7

Grantley Dick Read (1890-1959)
Notes, correspondence, cuttings, pamphlets, etc, relating to cerebral palsy, 1952-8.
Reference: PP/GDR/B.49-51

‘The Expanding Field of Mental Health’
Fifty-eight papers and associated material on mental health development, collected and edited by Dr Doris Odlum and Alexander Walk, 1960-8.
Reference: MS.7913

George Robert Fraser (1932-)
Papers of this geneticist include material relating to his research on severe deafness and visual defect in childhood and on ‘cretinism’ as well as other genetic conditions, 1861-2007.
Reference: PP/GRF

Rudolph Karl Freudenberg (1908-1983)
Materials relating to the introduction of occupational and art therapy into Netherne Hospital, and the preparation of long-stay mental patients for living in the community, and work with organisations dealing with care in the community and various issues to do with mental patients, 1950s-70s.
Reference: PP/RKF

Sir Ludwig Guttman (1899-1980)
Papers, including numerous photographs, relating to his pioneering work at Stoke Mandeville, and its international impact, in the treatment and rehabilitation of paraplegics and the development of sport for the disabled, 1940s-70s.
Reference: PP/GUT

Noel Gordon Harris (1897-1963)
Psychiatrist involved in policy-making in psychiatry, c.1943-1963, in particular Royal Medico-Psychological Association and Joint Liaison Committee on Mental Health Legislation 1958. Plus notes on treatment of mental diseases, writings, and material from mental patients.
Reference: PP/NGH

Sir Henry Head, FRS (1861-1940)
Self-observation of Parkinson's disease, and reports on examination of Lourdes pilgrims in 1895.
Reference: PP/HEA

Holmleigh Auxiliary Military Hospital
World War I admission and discharge registers, and narratives of wounded patients.
Reference: GC/20

Donald Hunter CBE, FRCP (1898-1978)
Author of 'Diseases of Occupation', his papers include case records and photographs of patients at the London Hospital, 1905-68.
Reference: PP/HUN

Sir Thomas Lewis (1881-1945)
World War I research on `soldier's heart', and correspondence with Ministry of Pensions and Disabilities Committee, 1920. World War II research on vascular injuries.
Reference: PP/LEW

Ronald MacKeith (1908-1977)
Papers relating to his work (and some material of his successor), as director of the Medical Education and Information Unit (MEIU) at The Spastics Society, 1959-98.
Reference: PP/MKH/D

Sir Peter Medawar FRS,OM (1915-87)
Research work, including multiple sclerosis, and personal papers as a paraplegic from 1969 when he suffered a stroke.
Reference: PP/PBM

Napsbury Mental Hospital
Studies of cases of cerebral tumour 1935, and a number of papers on the psychiatric repercussions, questions of rehabilation, etc, for various war-related disabilites 1927-56.
Reference: GC/135

Frederick Parkes-Weber (1863-1962)
Specialist in rare diseases whose detailed notes and photographs include various mental and physical disorders.
Reference: PP/FPW

The Royal Army Medical Corps Muniment Collection
Diaries, memoirs, correspondence and photographs of officers and men of the Army Medical Services, 19th-20th centuries. Also some unit records and photo albums, including Army Medical Rehabilitation Centre, 1956-68. See under `Military medicine' in RAMC index.
Reference: RAMC

Professor Richard Worthington Smithells (1924-2002)
Papers of this eminent paediatrician dealing primarily with his activities around thalidomide, beginning in 1961, including his involvement with the Thalidomide Trust.

Robert Henry Stewart Thompson (1912-1998)
Material relating to his research on multiple sclerosis, 1969-91.

The Hospital Records Database
A database maintained by the Wellcome and The National Archives, searchable by name of hospital or town. Currently has information on location and main series of records held by c. 3000 hospitals in UK. Searches on type of hospital e.g. pre or post 1948 mental/psychiatry, can be undertaken by Archives and Manuscripts (
Link to database

Contact an archivist

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