‘Kingsley Hall: An Island? Exploring Archival Accounts of Life at the Hall’
Kingsley Hall was radical therapeutic community established by R. D. Laing in 1965 (and that ran until 1970) in the East End of London. Here I turn to archival accounts of life at the Hall by residents and visitors. These accounts are from a book (never published) about Kingsley Hall and other communities established by the Laing network in the 70s. In his introduction to the book (the most stable title of which was Asylum: To Dwell in Strangeness), Laing engages in a debate with his former collaborator, David Cooper, who had spoken derisively of the Hall and other communities as “happy islands”, isolated zones of pseudo-freedom. Following a consideration of the aims, scope, history and marketability of the book project, I take the island metaphor as my starting point for exploring archival materials. This route allows me to trace significant connections and dissonances among several contributors to Asylum: To Dwell in Strangeness, and offers rich possibilities for interrogating the nature of the Hall and the radical psychiatry associated with R. D. Laing. In particular, I want to examine debates around the politics of the Kingsley Hall project; the relation of the Hall to its surrounding area in the East End; as well as the relation of Laing and his project to mainstream psychiatry, and to 1960s counterculture.
These papers – the registered document series (SA/TIH/B/1) – provide a framework for the research and outputs of the Institute from 1945 to 2005, containing key reports and findings from seminal social studies from the post-war period to the early 21st century.
The reports trace the dynamic and cutting-edge work undertaken by the Tavistock Institute’s team of social scientists, anthropologists and psychoanalysts, in their efforts to apply new thinking emerging in the social sciences to the most prevalent contemporary needs and concerns of society. The topics addressed in the reports are hugely diverse, covering many aspects of the organisation of human social and cultural relations, institutions, social conflicts, and organisational structures and group dynamics.
More details about the archive can be found here, while the collection can be explored here.
In her book, Borgman locates data as only meaningful within infrastructures or ecologies of knowledge, and discusses the management and exploitation of data as particular kinds of investments in the future of scholarship. Her take on the history of big data and the growing enthusiasm for data sharing, which she asserts often obscures the challenges and complexities of data stewardship, is relevant to historians of the social sciences. An excerpt:
Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. Studying data is a means to observe how rapidly the landscape of scholarly work in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities is changing. Inside the black box of data is a plethora of research, technology, and policy issues. Data are best understood as representations of observations, objects, or other entities used as evidence of phenomena for the purposes of research or scholarship. Rarely do they stand alone, separable from software, protocols, lab and field conditions, and other context. The lack of agreement on what constitutes data underlies the difficulties in sharing, releasing, or reusing research data. Continue reading Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’→
Here at AHP, we’re interested in fostering conversation about historiographic theory and methods, and as we have access to such a vibrant community of historians and allied researchers, I thought I’d forward this query posted on the H-Public discussions section of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online.
The interview should take approximately one hour and can be conducted in person, over the telephone, or online using Go2Meeting. Your responses to these questions will be kept confidential. There is no compensation for participating in this study; however, I am confident that your participation will contribute significantly to this emerging area of research.
If you are willing to participate, please send an email to: email@example.com to confirm your interest. I am happy to answer any questions for you as well.
Historians of science (and other academic or professional disciplines) are used to studying how other people conduct research, but rarely have the spotlight turned on their own work. It is always beneficial to be be given the opportunity to take a look at your methodological ‘black box’ and reflect on those processes. If interested, please contact Alexandra.
A new issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. The October 2013 release is a special issue on the topic of “Historians in the Archive: Changing Historiographical Practices in the Nineteenth Century.” As described by guest editors Pieter Huistra, Herman Paul and Jo Tollebeek in the introduction, the issue “explores the influence that archives, in a classic, institutional sense, exerted on the practices of 19th-century historiography. How did the archival turn affect historians’ working manners? How contested was this archival research imperative, with its underlying autopsy principle? And how did it spread geographically, in and outside Europe?” The seven articles that comprise the issue include pieces on the persona of the archival historian, the use of state archives, and the role of debates about testimony in the archival turn. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Historians in the archive: An introduction,” by Pieter Huistra, Herman Paul, and Jo Tollebeek. The abstract reads,
Historians in the 19th-century were not the first to discover the importance of source materials kept in archival depositories. More than their predecessors, however, scholars working in the historical discipline that the 19th century saw emerge tended to equate professional historical knowledge with knowledge based on primary source research, that is, practically speaking, on knowledge gained from source material that was usually kept in archives. While previous scholarship had paid ample attention to the methods that 19th-century historians employed for the study of such archival material, to the epistemologies they developed in tandem with these methods and to the institutions they created for the study of archival records, this special issue explores the influence that archives, in a classic, institutional sense, exerted on the practices of 19th-century historiography. How did the archival turn affect historians’ working manners? How contested was this archival research imperative, with its underlying autopsy principle? And how did it spread geographically, in and outside Europe?
Over the course of the summer months, the Weill-Cornell Medical Center Archives in New York have been uploading images from their collection into two new online databases: one for internal users and one that is open to the public. The public database, a part of the Shared Shelf Commons, can be searched directly by selecting “Cornell: New York-Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell” from the drop-down menu. The online collection features both drawings and photographs and includes building interiors and exteriors, staff, and events from the New York Hospital buildings, the Bloomingdale Asylum (later Hospital), the House of Relief, the Lying-in Hospital, the Medical School, and the Nursing School (for background on these institutions, click here). The earliest images date into the late 1700s, with photographs beginning in the late 1800s and running well into the 1970s.
AHP readers may be interested to know that much of the Weill-Cornell Medical Center Archives’ print collection is also available digitally via the ever-growing archive.org site. This material includes:
Ph.D. candidates with approved dissertation topics, and recent Ph.D. graduates (within 5 years) who are looking to add social and political context to their historical projects, may find this Fellowship opportunity interesting: the National Archives is offering a summer research fellowship starting in July 2011. With an accompanying $10,000 stipend, this is an excellent opportunity for researchers and historians to gain access to these archives, to its staff, and to consultants from the House and Senate history offices.
Suggested research topics include: immigration policy, committee histories, environmental policy, Congressional investigations, or eighteenth and nineteenth century petitions to Congress. However, any topic using the historical records of Congress housed at the National Archives’ Centre for Legislative Archives will be considered. Follow this link for more information.
Secondly, The National Humanities Alliance has posted a list of funding opportunities for humanities and social science projects.
Of note are the Digging into Data challenge, where researchers create international (Canada, US, UK, Netherlands) teams to develop new means of searching through and analyzing the large amounts of data and databases now used by humanities and social science scholars.
American archivists may also be interested in this Publishing Historical Records Grant, which provides support for projects requiring between $20,000 and $4,000,000. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which is a part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports this opportunity to promote and preserve American documents “essential to understanding our democracy, history, and culture.”
Linda Beebe, the senior director of PsycINFO (the psychology search engine), has written a brief history describing the evolution of the world’s premiere resource for psychological literature. [Update: the original link is no longer accessible; see a cached version here.] It provides a fascinating look at a part of the discipline that we often take for granted.
PsycINFO began in 1967 with the first electronic publication of the bibliographic records included in that year’s print Psychological Abstracts. The ability to produce an electronic product so early in the computing revolution came about as a result of grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a Scientific Information Exchange Project.
In 1965 the APA Publications Board approved an experimental study of the feasibility of producing Psychological Abstracts by the Photon process, which would yield magnetic tapes that could be used for information retrieval.
The production process was crude by today’s standards, as the electronic output was the result of a long paper-and-pencil creation process. However, when implemented in 1966, it greatly changed nearly everything about the production of Psychological Abstracts….
With a monthly, rather than a bimonthly, publication schedule, lag times were cut dramatically from as much as 3 years to as little as 3 months. The quantity of abstracts published also increased, moving from 8,381 in 1963 to 13,622 in 1966; and by the end of the decade the annual output had risen to 18,068….
In 1980 PsycINFO published 31,764 abstracts in electronic form…. By 1989, the annual total had grown to 52,442 abstracts….