Bethlem Museum of the Mind holds casebooks that cover nearly 150 years and detail the time patients with severe mental health problems spent in Bethlem Royal Hospital. These were not just patients, but people with full and rich lives lived outside Bethlem. Their stay in the Hospital was often only for a year, perhaps the worst year of their life, but after this they vanish from our records. Who they were, where they came from and what they went on to do is hidden from us.
Change Minds Online brought together a group of volunteers to explore the stories of some of these people, using the casebook entries as a jumping off point and looking at their lives by researching other records and through creative interpretation. The group met online during June, July and August 2020, sharing the stories they found and pooling their ideas to make the project happen via online meetings and emails.
This virtual gallery shows the photographs of the people they researched in Bethlem, with links to their research in the information bar of each photograph, and the group’s creative responses to their research. Sometimes we have explained how we went about our work, sometimes not. All of us have tried to place the experience of the patients front and centre of our work.
Change Minds Online is based on a project created by Norfolk Record Office, the Restoration Trust and various other partners to explore the history of mental health. Find out more at changeminds.org.uk