Freudenberg, Rudolph Karl (1908-1993) and Freudenberg, Gerda (née Vorster) (1906-1995)

  • Freudenberg, R. K.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


These papers relate to psychiatric practice at Netherne Hospital, Freudenberg's involvement with various professional bodies, and his writings on psychiatry, 1930s-1970s.

A. Rudolph Karl Freudenberg's Personalia

1 Personal papers and correspondence
2 Offprints and publications
3 Unpublished general papers
4 Conferences
5 Files of rough notes
6 Films

B Netherne Hospital

1 Published articles and reports
2 External reports on Netherne
3 Unpublished articles on Netherne (excluding training)
4 Material for training
5 Netherne Magazines
6 Committees and meetings
7 Printed guides
8 League of Friends and other voluntary help
9 General planning and memoranda
10 Day hospitals and hostels
11 Occupational and industrial therapy
12 Rehabilitation (wider than purely industrial)
13 Questionnaires and forms
14 Censuses
15 Art
16 Other directly Netherne material
17 Photographs and slides
18 Audio tapes 19 Films
20 Related material - not specifically Netherne

C Department of Health and Social Security

D Local bodies

1 Cheshire Home, Wimbledon
2 Schizophrenia Research Fund
3 Surrey Council for Mental Health
4 Surrey Group of National Schizophrenia Fellowship
5 Reigate and District Association for Mental Health
6 National Association of League of Hospital Friends
7 Disablement Income Group, Godalming
8 Share Community Ltd
9 Surrey Resettlement Ltd
10 West Lambeth Community Health Council
11 Industrial Therapy Organisation (Epsom) Ltd
12 London Borough of Sutton: review of Health and Welfare Services
13 Orpington Mental Health Association

E Other bodies

1 King Edward's Hospital Fund
2 Mental Health Research Fund
3 National Association for Mental Health
4 Royal Medico-Psychological Association, later Royal College of Psychiatrists
5 Medical Research Council
6 General Nursing Council
7 The Council for Music in Hospitals
8 Council of Europe
9 World Health Organisation

F General offprints



Physical description

62 boxes

Acquisition note

This collection was given to what was then the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, by Freudenberg's sons, Christopher, Michael and Sebastian Freudenberg in 1998

Biographical note

Rudolf Karl Freudenberg

A full summary and appreciation of Freudenberg's work is given in T Becker and D Bennett, 'Rudolf Karl Freudenberg - from pioneer of insulin treatment to pioneering social psychiatrist', History of psychiatry, Vol. 11, pt. 2, no. 42 (Jun. 2000), pp 189-211. Obituaries in The Times May 13, 1983, and the British Medical Journal .

1908 11 May Rudolf Karl Freudenberg born, son of an industrialist

Studied medicine at the Universities of Kiel, Munich and Freiburg

1932 Qualified MD; Became house officer in surgery in Berlin; Married Gerda Vorster

1935 Lost job on account of Jewish background; Obtained job at University Neuro-histological Institute, Vienna

1936 Did work on physiology of insulin coma treatment

1937 Invited to join the staff of Moorcroft House, a private psychiatric hospital in Hillingdon, Middlesex, and moved to England

1939 Obtained British medical qualifications (Scottish Triple)

During World War II was involved in primate research on leucotomy

1945 Obtained Diploma in Psychiatric Medicine

1947 Became consultant and Deputy Superintendent at Netherne Hospital, Surrey

1951-1973 Physician Superintendent at Netherne

1957 Presented important paper on effects of physical and social treatment; Made significant developments in modernisation of practices at Netherne

1961-1964 Senior Principal Medical Officer and Head of Medical Mental Section at the Ministry of Health

1965-1966 President of Psychiatry Section, Royal Society of Medicine

1969 Establishment of Netherne Postgraduate Medical Centre (later the Freudenberg Centre)

1973 Retired from Netherne

1973-1977 Senior Principal Medical Officer and Chief Advisor on Mental Health Research at the Ministry of Health

1983 Apr 18 Died at his home in Reigate

Gerda Freudenberg

Biographical information supplied by family, supplemented by material from article and obituaries on Rudolf Karl Freudenberg. She appeared in the Medical Directory from 1950 onwards.

1906 26 June Born Gerda Vorster

1932 Qualified MD at Freiburg

1933 Worked in medical posts in Berlin; Married Rudolf Karl Freudenberg

1935 Lost job in Berlin on account of Jewish background

1936 Found jobs in Vienna, and later Berne

1938 Joined her husband in England, with their first son

1947 onwards Worked with League of Friends of Netherne Hospital; Voluntary work for the Council for Music in Hospital

1950 Qualification for UK medical practice

1995 27 Feb Died

Related material

At other repositories:

Items of RK Freudenberg's scientific equipment have been placed in the Science Museum, London.

Memoirs written by Dr Walter Freudenberg (RK Freudenberg's father) of his First World War service have been placed in the Imperial War Museum, London.

Copyright note

Copyright has been retained by the family: anyone who wishes to publish must seek their permission.

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.

Location of duplicates

A digitised copy is held by Wellcome Collection as part of The Mental Health Archives digitisation project.The following copy photographs are held by Wellcome Images: Two paintings done as art therapy (probably at Netherne Hospital), and two papers for Art Therapy Exhibition, 1968 on "Art as an Aid to Treatment," L0049349-50

Ownership note

The archive is far from complete. Some items had been destroyed by the family prior to transfer, and the surviving material had been stored in several places. Some material received was so mould-damaged that it had to be destroyed immediately. The papers had become jumbled long before transfer, with many original files broken up, and the original order had in any case not been firm. There were, for instance, different file series at different stages, but none of them either clear-cut or complete. It was therefore entirely impossible to recover an original structure. The archive was Freudenberg's own, but included many files and papers created as part of his official positions at Netherne and the Department of Health and Social Security. The archive has been divided into categories which reflect the various facets of Freudenberg's work and interests, but these categories have been imposed on the material. Within each category, original files have usually been retained and file titles given.


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Accession number

  • 760