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Friends Hospital records

Identifier: HC.MC-1261

Scope and Contents

This collection represents the history of the Friends Hospital (originally the Asylum for Persons Deprived of the Use of their Reason), spanning the years 1812-2000. The collection contains five series: Administrative Records, Financial Records, Hospital Records, Published Materials, and Visual Materials. Administrative Records contains annual reports spanning from 1816 to 1997; orientation manuals; correspondence; foundational records such as deeds and charters; governance records such as rules for the Asylum; and records and minutes of several committees, including Board of Managers, Contributors, Executive, and Planning. The Financial Records series includes receipts for the building of the Hospital, cash books, appraisals, account ledgers, daybooks, investment books, and contributors’ records. The Hospital Records series contains case histories; admission records; patient and staff records; records of programs like the School of Nursing and Horticulture; information on the building and grounds; and memorabilia. Published Materials contains materials written by and/or about the Hospital, newsletters, and pamphlets pertaining to various subjects. The Visual Materials series contains photographs, land surveys and maps, slides, and audiovisual materials.


  • Creation: 1812-2000


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Historical note

Friends Hospital was founded by Philadelphia-area Quakers in 1813 under the name ‘The Asylum for Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason.’ Their mission statement was: “To provide for the suitable accommodation of persons who are or may be deprived of the use of their reason and the maintenance of an asylum for their reception, which is intended to furnish, besides requisite medical aid, such tender, sympathetic attention as may soothe their agitated minds, and under the Divine Blessing, facilitate their recovery.” In 1817, the hospital accepted its first patients. Friends Asylum was the first private psychiatric hospital in the United States, and one of the first mental hospitals to use moral treatment, which eschewed corporal punishment for the patients and advocated treating them with respect and compassion. Moral treatment at the Asylum included occupational and recreational therapy, and was deeply influenced by the founders' Quaker principles. Moral treatment was thought to be more effective in curing insanity than medical treatment, although the Asylum did also provide medical treatment on occasion. Early medical treatments at the Asylum included blisters and cold baths. In 1827, the hospital expanded, adding two new patient wings. In 1834, the hospital opened its doors to patients who were not Quakers, expanding the hospital's reach. In 1879, Friends Hospital built a greenhouse to facilitate horticultural therapy for the patients. By this point, medical treatment had increased in the hospital. In 1880, the hospital's capacity increased once again to allow 90 more patients. In 1885, the hospital opened a short-lived convalescent home, Gurney Cottage, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Friends Hospital was one of the first psychiatric hospitals to employ female doctors; in 1889, Anna Broomall, M.D., was appointed as a consulting doctor. A two year training school for nurses opened at Friends Hospital in 1894, providing certifications in general and psychiatric nursing. In 1911, Friends Hospital expanded its property once again, covering approximately 100 acres, and in 1916, a 326 acre farm in Trevose was added to the property holdings. On this farm, the Bensalem Mansion was opened to Friends Hospital patients as a convalescent home. In 1922, the Hospital built the Hygeia Building, which was used for hydrotherapy, a treatment which had been used in various ways since the Hospital's earliest years. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Bonsall and Tuke Buildings were added to the hospital grounds, which increased the patient capacity to 192, which remains the current capacity. Friends Hospital was accredited as a training site by the American Psychological Association in 1979. In 1980, the Greystone Program opened, composed of the Greystone house and, in 1989, the additional Hillside house, which provide long-term and sometimes permanent community residence to house and treat those living with severe and persistent mental illnesses. The hospital’s Eating Disorders program opened in 1996, and was one of the only programs of its kind in the area that treated both children and males. In 1998, Friends Hospital opened the Larkspur Crisis Response Center, which provides treatment for upwards of 6,000 patients per year. Friends Hospital was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1999, and in 2000 U.S. News and World Report ranked Friends Hospital as one of the top psychiatric hospitals in the country. This success continued in 2002, when six of the hospital’s psychiatrists were ranked among the region’s top doctors by Philadelphia Magazine. In 2010, Friends Hospital opened the first inpatient Recovery Oriented Unit in Philadelphia. Friends Hospital still operates under its original mission statement. (Information from Friends Hospital website, Carol Perloff's The Asylum, and Friends' Asylum for the Insane, 1813-1913).


17.6 linear ft. (25 boxes, 229 volumes)

Language of Materials



Records of Friends Hospital from before its founding in 1813 through the late 20th century. Records include administrative, financial, hospital, published, and visual information.


Materials are arranged in five series.

Series I: Administrative Records

Subseries I
Admission Committee Records
Subseries II
Annual Reports
Subseries III
Board of Managers Records
Subseries IV
Contributors Records
Subesries V
Corporation Records
Subseries VI
Subseries VII
Executive Committee Records
Subseries VIII
Foundation and Governance Records
Subseries IX
Planning Committee Records
Subseries X
Visiting Committee Records

Series II: Financial Records

Subseries I
Account Books and Ledgers
Subseries II
Accounting Information
Subseries III
Subseries IV
Bills and Receipts
Subseries V
Donations and Contributions Records
Subseries VI
Investment Records

Series III: Hospital Records

Subseries I
Admission Records
Subseries II
Buildings and Grounds
Subseries III
Case Histories
Subseries IV
Daily Records
Subseries V
Horticulture Program
Subseries VI
Medical Records
Subseries VII
Subseries VIII
Subseries IX
School of Nursing
Subseries X
Subseries XI
Superintendent Records

Series IV: Published Materials

Subseries I
Friends Hospital
Subseries II
Subseries III

Series V: Visual Materials

Subseries I
Audiovisual Materials
Subseries II
Subseries III


On deposit from Friends Hospital and the Scattergood Foundation, 1968 and 2015, and from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1976. Purchased from Robert Batchelder, acc. no. 5102.

Related Materials

  • HC.MC.962 includes extracts from the journal of Dr. Edward Taylor, a physician and superintendent at Friends Hospital, 1823-32
  • HC.MC.955 includes a map of property purchased as the site for Friends Hospital, n.d.
  • HC.MC.850 includes pictures of the buildings and grounds.
  • Published annual reports are available in Quaker and Special Collections at BX7640 .F77 A2. Books from the library of Friends Asylum are catalogued individually and noted as being from the institution.
  • is an online portal created by students containing essays and visual aids on the history of the hospital, daily life, and mental illness treatment.
  • HC.MC.1184 includes letters of a member of the Board of Managers, Caleb Cresson, to the superintendent of the York Retreat, asking about hospital business
  • HC.MC.1192 contains letters and diaries covering William Warder Cadbury's time as a doctor at Friends Hospital during World War II

Processing Information

Processed by Natalia Gutierrez-Jones; completed November, 2015. Revised by Abigail Corcoran; completed June, 2016. Collection reprocessed by project archivist Alison Sielaff in 2019 and 2020.

Friends Hospital records, 1812-2000
Under Revision
Natalia Gutierrez-Jones and Alison Sielaff
November, 2015; March 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • May 2022: by Nathaniel Rehm-Daly, Harmful Language Revision Project

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting repoductions from Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US