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UNESCO award recognises West Riding Pauper Asylum at Stanley Royd Hospital

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This photograph from the 1870s is part of a collection of mental health records which has received a prestigious United Nations award.

The picture of Ann Humphreys was taken when she was admitted to the West Riding Pauper Asylum, at Stanley Royd Hospital in Wakefield.

Asylum records kept by the West Yorkshire Archive Service show she was 53 and was admitted after throwing herself into the canal at Walton.

She was one of thousands of patients treated at the asylum, where pioneering treatments were tested and new ways of understanding mental illness were developed.

Mrs Humphreys’ records are part of a collection covering 173 years of treatment which contains more than 5,000 photographs.

Its historic importance has been recognised by UNESCO, the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, which has accepted the records as part of the UK National Register of Documentary Heritage.

Coun Ros Lund, chairwoman of West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which overseas the archive service, said: “Stanley Royd was one of the world’s most famous and active research institutions, drawing visits by doctors and asylum administrators from all over the country and world. Its ground-breaking work instigated global scientific changes in the treatment of the mentally ill.”

 

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