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Title: Idiots, imbeciles, and the asylum in the early twentieth century : Bevan Lewis and the boys of Stanley Hall
Author: Hoole, Jean Denise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 1075
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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There have been many studies of Victorian asylums and their inmates, but the Edwardian asylum, and child inmates, have been largely unrepresented. This thesis attempts to redress these imbalances and contribute to the history of mental deficiency by describing the innovations, developments, and practices within the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum (WRPLA) and its annexe, Stanley Hall. As part of the Poor Law system Stanley Hall took in idiot and imbecile boys as young as three years, where, as part of the response of alienists towards mentally deficient children, an attempt was made to educate them to a degree of self- sufficiency. In this way Stanley Hall was an institution that went beyond its perception as a custodial establishment and practised new approaches to care, at a time when these boys were defined within the Poor Law under the universal category of 'lunatic'. This study focuses on the role of William Bevan Lewis, the Medical Superintendent of the WRPLA (1884-1910), and the 163 idiot and imbecile boys admitted to Stanley Hall between 1901 and 1910. Consideration is given to the early dissemination of knowledge from this asylum and its influence through the teaching and training of medical students and asylum medical officers. The function and operation of Stanley Hall and the 'experiences' of the inmates is explored through institutional records and the evidence of Bevan Lewis to the Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded (1905-1908). Stanley Hall pre-dated other mental deficiency colonies and anticipated the conclusions of the Royal Commission which recommended specialised care for mentally deficient children. Issues of care for this group were intensely debated during the Edwardian period leading to the Mental Deficiency Act (1913) that defined this group and influenced their care for almost another fifty years. The records of Stanley Hall demonstrate the individuality of the boys, and allow the analysis of the involvement of their families in the committal of their children. The subsequent involvement (or lack thereof) in the care of their children is also examined. The ultimate fates of the boys are considered, and an attempt made to bring the regime at Stanley Hall 'back to life'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum ; Stanley Hall ; Psychiatric hospitals ; People with mental disabilities