Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Royal Albert Hospital Archive

[Thanks to Iain Hutchison for this tip, via H-Disability.]

The cocoa that they gave us they say is mighty fine
It’s good for cuts and bruises and tastes like iodine
So I don’t want no more of Royal Albert life
Gee ma I want to go home

--A verse from the "Cocoa Song," related by former resident Stanley Byers, right, in an interview in the 1980s

Unlocking the Past is a fine online archive of images, interviews, texts, and video from the Royal Albert Asylum, Lancaster, England, an institution established in 1870, originally as a training school for disabled children, and later becoming a custodial institution for adults with cognitive disabilities. It was closed in 1996. The archives include patient memories like the song above, images of the Royal Albert scouting groups, video, audio, and transcripts of interviews with former patients and staff, architectural descriptions and images, a timeline, an article archive, and so on. It's an ongoing project, inviting contributions from anyone with material to share. Have a look or a listen.