Survivors' histories

Mental patients make history
Mental patients write histories
We always have and we always will

the love fish

1950s Out of Rampton

early 1970s A journal of SUMP days

1974 Frank Bangay - Minstral of the movement

1977/1982 A Mad People's History of Madness

1977/1979 Anne Plumb - Archivist of the movement

1980s Joan Hughes - Historian of the 1970s movement

Summer 1990 "The Ex-Patients' Movement: Where We've Been and Where We're Going" by Judi Chamberlin

1996 Peter Campbell - Reflecting on the movement

1996 The Health Through History Initiative

1999 Disability Studies in Canada

2000-2003 On Our Own Terms

2004/2005 Survivors History Group - archives

2005-2006 Survivors History Group manifestos

2007 Survivor History web

2008/2009 Survivors History internet forum

October 2010 Oor Mad History - The book

Out of Rampton

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Child of a System about 1953 Noele Arden told her fellow inmates in Rampton that
"I'd write a book and let the outside world know what went on behind those high walls and locked doors. Although I meant it, I hardly thought I would ever get the opportunity to do so" Child of a System p.62
Her book was published in 1977

Peter Whitehead January 1955 Peter Whitehead in solitary confinement at Rampton
"I decided I was being wrongfully shut away, because I knew I wasn't mentally defective, and in spite of what had happened at Farmfield, I was not violent. I knew that I must go on believing this, and go on hoping that one day I would be set free. No matter how long I was imprisoned in Rampton, I was determined never to give up".
Peter Whitehead advised other patients to

"Write letters. Get people outside interested in you. Tell them you've been wrongly shut away. If you stay quiet, nobody will lift a finger to help you, however long you stay here"

About twenty patients began writing letters and staff complained that Peter's campaign meant they had to spend all their time reading (and censoring) patients letters. Several time, Peter was warned:

"Carry on like this, and you're heading straight for trouble"
1958 David Roxan's Sentenced Without Cause told the story of Peter Whitehead's successful struggle for freedom

This much battered copy is the property of Andrew Roberts. - It was read and marked by fellow patients at Ingrebourne in 1963 and later.

The Scottish Union of Mental Patients

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SUMP Stamp 26.7.1971

"Petition for the Redress of Grievances put forward by the patients in Hartwood Hospital, Shotts Lanarkshire".

- "The signatories to the petition are the Foundation and Permanent Members of SUMP" [Scottish Union of Mental Patients - see mental patients unions]

Hartwood Hospital

SUMP Journal

SUMP (Scottish Union of Mental Patients).
Tommie Ritchie's "Journal of SUMP Days" begins Friday 7.4.1972, but the prefatory note says "We are late in the starting of recording SUMP's activities - But the Manifesto is only half finished and not yet recorded. Moreover we have had no General meeting yet." - See also 26.7.1971

Friday 28.4.1972 Tommie Ritchie rang his Member of Parliament. "I told him I was speaking for Sump not Self". "Was he in favour of Sump being autonomously in the hands of patients?". He was not sure on this till he consulted experts. (Journal page eight)

SUMP membership records (page one below) were kept at the back of the journal

SUMP membership

Robin Farquharson is member number 00034 in the SUMP membership list. He is the first not from Hartwood. Under "hospital" it says " Gartloch (7) transferred to Epsom". The story I remember being told is that Robin was confined (on this occasion) after succesfully ordering a (military?) aeroplane - or aeroplanes.

7.6.1972 Thomas Ritchie first visited Gartnavel

after 20.6.1972 Thomas Ritchie came to London

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Frank Bangay - Minstral of the movement

Frank Bangay's collected works, Naked Songs and Rhythms of Hope - An Illustrated Collection of Poems from 1974 to 1999 was launched at Mad Pride's "first ever gig" on June 20th 1999.

Naked Songs and Rhythms of Hope

Frank once said

"our poetry and other forms of creativity are our only voice, and the only way we really have of communicating our experiences"

He has made poetry the core of his history writing. Copiously annotating his poems sothat they provide both the detail and the emotion of the more working class origins of the survivors' movement.

His work combines individual biography and movement history.

Depression, poetry, recitation and publication

In his early twenties, Frank, started suffering from severe depression and anxiety. Expressing himself through poetry helped him to disperse the gloom. He discovered the Troubadour Poets who held Monday night poetry evenings at the Troubadour Coffee House in Earl's Court, and he began reciting his poetry there. One of his ealiest poems, "Fear", was published by Troubadour Poets in late August 1974: It is deeply personal and vulnerable.

"you tell me that I frighten you, Well I never intended to... I'm not a tough man... there are many times when I am afraid... afraid of isolation ... afraid of my superiors... afraid of love... And sometimes I'm frightened of you my friend."

Springfield Hospital

Frank's 1985 poem "Food and Shelter" relates to experiences in 1976 to 1978 and

"the revolving door system that we can get caught up in once we enter the psychiatric system"

Frank was a patient in Springfield Hospital, Tooting, South London. Not all his experiences here were negative. He helped Kieran Brown, an Occupational Therapist, to produce Springfield Words, a magazine published by the hospital. It contained "Spring is Rising", a poem of conviction that "peace in our hearts" is "more than a dream" if we "sing out loud" and "make it real".

In 1979 Frank helped to organise a half-hour of poetry and songs based round life in Springfield Hospital, featuring Kieran, himself and Dave Dorling, who was also a patient in the hospital. It was staged at the Troubadour and "quite well received".

Music, poetry and politics

At the end of the 1970s, Frank collaborated with musicians in the Fighting Pigeons Band. "Park Song" one of his most beautiful poems, was written as lyrics to one of their songs. "I saw you crying in the park today. I nearly felt strong enough to cry with you"

Prompt - CAPO

Frank first read PROMPT booklets in 1979.

Music and poetry events were organised by Frank Bangay to raise money for PROMPT and CAPO. Some of these were at The Metropolitan, a public house in Farringdon. Many activists were brought together at these event.

Peterson, D. 1977 The literature of madness : autobiographical writings by mad people and mental patients in England and America from 1436 to 1975 Ann Arbor, Michigan Thesis - Stanford University, 1977 [Bibliography: leaves 571-595]

1982 A Mad People's History of Madness compiled by Dale Peterson. The British authors included are Margery Kempe, George Trosse, Alexander Cruden, Samuel Bruckshaw (1774), William Cowper, Urbane Metcalf, John Thomas Perceval, Marcia Hamilcar (1910), Thomas Hennell (1938), John Cunstance (1952) and Morag Coate (1965)

Anne Plumb - Archivist of the movement

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Helen Spandler (left) and Anne Plumb (right) are two of the co-founders of the Greater Manchester Survivor History Group. This picture was taken in September 2008. Anne began to collect books, pamphlets and other documents about the movement in the 1978/1979. Because she keeps her collection in good order, cataloguing and analysing it, her Manchester archive is now one of the most important archives of the survivor movement.

Anne Plumb by Anne Plumb

Anne Plumb is a survivor activist and member of a Survivor History Group. In 2005 a group of activists, concerned that their history could get lost, met and set up this group in association with a webpage Time Line, managed by Andrew Roberts, and linked to an internet forum

Anne also has a personal archive: Ear to the ground; Survivor Voices. This an archive, organised chronologically, of pamphlets, flyers, booklets, press cuttings, books authored by people within the mental health movement. . from around the late 1970s to 2000. It is in two parts; Survivor Organisation and Survivor and Ally Action.

The collection began with a booklet by the Manchester Mental Patients Union on Your Rights in Mental Hospital (about 1979) and a magazine, State and Mind from the US, which included on article on Judi Chamberlin's book, On Our Own. Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System (1978), picked up in Manchester's Grassroots bookshop in the late 1970s.

In the mid 1980s, Anne joined the network Survivors Speak Out. She kept items from Survivors Speak Out newsletters and picked up others at stalls set out at Survivors Speak Out AGMs including the first copy of Asylum magazine (to which she continued to subscribe)

Becoming a trainer with a small local collective, DATA (Distress Awareness Training Agency) which included doing work with the Social Work department at Manchester University in the late 1980s/early 1990s, she added books and articles. She also subscribed to the Hearing Voices Network newsletter, which had its beginnings with North Manchester Community Workers, retaining these. She came to Rochdale in 1970 following 18 months of emotional and mental crisis while at university that placed her in hospital on several occasions. Anne has some material on Mad Pride but identifies as a mental health system survivor rather than a mad prider.

Married to Ken Lumb, an early member of the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) (founded 1974) and a founding member of the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) (1985), which bought activists together from the various boroughs including Rochdale, where Ken was particularly active in the 1970s/1980s. Anne has an archive of the campaigns he was involved in and related material from the early 1970s to mid 1980s along with Coalition magazines including those he edited during the last decade.

Joan Hughes - Historian of the 1970s movement

Joan on a swing

Joan Hughes (1928-2008) drafted a movement outline in the early 1980s and also recorded a confidential autobiography of her experiences at the heart of the Mental Patients Union in the early 1970s

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Summer 1990 "The Ex-Patients' Movement: Where We've Been and Where We're Going" by Judi Chamberlin is mostly about the movement in the United States - Link to online copy Judi with Rae's book

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1996 Peter Campbell and reflective history

Peter Campbell performing The Mental Marching

Peter Campbell, a founder of Survivors Speak Out in 1985 has written many reflective articles on the movement.

in 1996, his "The history of the user movement in the United Kingdom" was published as chapter 26 in the Open University reader Mental Health Matters.

This is the classic reflective history of the United Kingdom movement. By reflective I mean that Peter does not simply recount history, but does so as a reflection on its significance for the movement.

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The Health Through History Initiative

History is more than a research method for survivors. Tower Hamlets African and Caribbean Mental Health Organisation (THACMHO) was started by mental health service users in 1996. Its projects include "The Health Through History Initiative".

Sankofa bird

One of its symbols is the Sankofa bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg in its mouth. The egg symbolizes the future. We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.

One of THACMHO's publications is Power Writers and the Struggle Against Slavery - Celebrating five African writers who came to the East End of London in the 18th century.

Earlier this year (2010) F.E.E.L. (Friends of East End Loonies) hosted a "Pageant of Survivor History", the script for this was written by the Survivors History Group and it began with readings from the autobiography of Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, one of the African writers who was considered foolish or insane.

1999 School of Disability Studies established in Toronto, Canada

The School of Disability Studies at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (University from 2002) developed a History of Madness course. Two ex- patients, David Reville and Jim Ward, took over the course in 2004.

Other survivor features of Toronto

  • The first "Psychiatric Survivor Pride Day" was held in Toronto on 18.9.1993

  • Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto began meeting regularly in January 2001

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    2000-2003 On Our Own Terms

    On Our Own Terms is the most important printed empirical contribution to the academic history of the survivor movement so far. No one else has attempted anything approaching it.

    The whole research project was collectively controlled by survivors. Depite its academic credentials it is often not noticed by historians outside the survivor history movement.

    On Our Own Terms

    On Our Own Terms is a survey of the user movement in England in the context of an analysis of its historical development. It provides a snapshot of the movement at the time and one of the few efforts to provide quantitative data on the development of the movement.

    A core of the report is an analysis of 318 questionnaires returned by user groups in England. The historical dimension is provided qualitatively in a table of "Key developments in the service user/survivor movement in England" and quantitatively by analysing when the groups started and what that indicates about the growth tendency of the movement.

    The On Our Own Terms research is the immediate background to our own work and several of the people involved in it are active members of the Survivor History Group. The Survivor History Group later used its historical table as one of the starting points for our web history of the movement.

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    2004/2005 Survivors History Group Archives

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    Survivors History Group - archives

    Survivors History Group began in 2004/2005 as an archival project to rescue the physical history of the mental patients' movement from the skip.

    The Glasgow Link team in 1985

    The first artifact we preserved (as a group) is a video of a presentation called "Life after Mental Illness" that members of Glasgow Link Clubs made at a Mind Conference in 1984.

    This is believed to be the first time that mental patients made a collective presentation to a Mind Conference.

    Individually, some of our members preserve extensive archives in their own homes. These include the records of the Scottish Union of Mental Patients (1971-1972) the Mental Patients Union started in London in 1973, Survivors Speak Out (1986-2009) and the United Kingdom Advocacy Network (1991-present).

    We are seeking ways to preserve such collections for future public access.

    In the meantime we have adopted a policy of listing important archives in a way modelled on the idea of listed buildings.

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    Survivors History Group manifestos

    A summary manifesto drafted in July 2005 became the basis for a fuller statement in January 2006

    The short manifesto said that

    We are to be survivor-led and operate as an independent group, but will willingly cooperate with interested allies.

    We did not want to impose a history on others, but to find ways in which the full diversity of user/survivors can record and share history.

    We also wanted to draw on the different forms that survivor history has taken

    The long manifesto commented on the construction of history to the exclusion of the patient and on the need for a space in which patients could make our own history.

    Our "basic founding principle" was to be that "service users own their history".

    We would "acquire materials from the full range of people involved in the mental health service user movement"

    "develop a publications policy" and "make as much material as possible available electronically".

    with a manifesto

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    Survivor History web


    We adopted some lateral thinking to adapt Peter Beresford's founding vision to our practical means.

    Our visitors come quietly in by the world wide web and sometimes email us with contributions to the exhibits. But the web site is an an archive and a museum. It is copied every six months or so by the UK Web Archive for perpetual preservation. Anything we put on it will be preserved as securley as a book in the British Library or and exhibit in the British mueseum.

    The website was adopted by the group in June 2007. The "studymore" site was created to enable archiving by the National Web Archive and this began the following month.

    The pictorial fish - heart - snake logo was adopted from the archives of the Mental Patients Union at the same time.

    The website includes:

    The story/stories of the movement in the form of a timeline.

    Individuals' stories inter-related to the story of the movement.

    Detailed information boxes about individual events or groups.

    Indexes of survivor history related features in magazines such as Asylum and Open Mind.

    Reviews and summaries of books and articles about survivor history.

    Copies of articles.

    Copies of documents and images from the movement's history.

    Lists of paper records about groups. Lists of books and pamphlets and records of where papers, books and pamphlets are preserved.

    The web page began with documentation of material about the 1970s in the care of Andrew Roberts, but a multitude of other contributors have added to the story and the site is now a collective history of the survivors movement and its context which everyone is invited to contribute to.

    Survivor History internet forum

    the internet forum

    The Survivors History internet forum began in June 2008.

    It is a Google Group modelled on one previously established by the United Kingdom Advocacy Network.

    The reason for setting it up was to avoid the bottlenck of material all going through the Secretary before it reached members or the public via the web.

    The forum now has about seventy members and active discussions most days.

    We are careful about the titles used for threads and about archiving the emails so that they can easily be used for our research.

    electronic communication

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    October 2010 - Oor Mad History - The book


    Oor Mad History

    1.6.2007 David Reville spoke to CAPS (Consultaton and Advocacy Promotion Service) in Edinburgh.

    Thursday 7.8.2008

    Friday 7.11.2008

    Wednesday 16.6.2010 Birmingham seminar.

    Friday 1.10.2010 Launch of book.

    I am tired and I want to go home