The collection was gathered over an extended period of time by the former head librarian of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Jeremiah A. O’Mara. The WPIC placed its historical collection of books and journals on permanent loan in the Falk Library in 1974. In early eighties it was evaluated, re-classed, relocated and incorporated into Historical Collections at Falk. It was further expanded by the addition of books identified as materials of historical significance during the liquidation of WPIC Library in 2009. Today, it is an integral part of the Falk Historical Collections, complemented by archival materials from the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and an extensive circulating collection of current materials in psychiatry maintained by the Falk Library.

Our broad historical psychiatry collection consists of primary and secondary studies in psychiatry and neurology. It covers early works on insanity, hysteria and other mental diseases. It includes books on the mind, phrenology, physiognomy, and early concepts of psychotherapy (hypnotism). It carries voluminous materials on the hospital care of mentally ill including the unique collection of Insane Hospital Reports (Ms 9) and Foreign Insane Hospital Reports(Ms 11).

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Earliest texts


Many interesting books in psychiatry are newer therefore classed and easily discoverable in our historical collections via online catalog, including works of Sigmund Freud and other works on psychoanalysis. Worth noticing are early publications on animal magnetism in the collection including a rare and unique pamphlet by Brack (1784) as well as following works:

Battie, William. A treatise on madness. London 1758 – seminal work on psychiatry and the first specifically on madness promoting the idea of it as “manageable disease” and institutionalization of the sick not for the safety of the society but for the therapeutic benefits to the mentally ill.

Pemell, Robert. De morbis capitis. London 1650 – scarce early text in English on mental diseases

Bowen, Thomas. An historical account of the origin, progress, and present state of Bethlem Hospital, founded by Henry the Eighth, for the cure of lunatics, and enlarged by subsequent benefactors, for the reception and maintenance of incurables. London 1784 – an early account providing a positive image of the Bethlem Hospital, the first and oldest institution for mentally ill. It does not say much about the treatment, for which hospital earned wide spread criticism and the nickname “Bedlam.” It rather focuses on its long history and operations in order to help administrators to appeal to charitable public to raise funds.

Search Pittcat to find all the books on the subject including the late 19th and early 20th century historical materials and current works from the circulating collection.