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Robina Addis (1900-1986): archives

  • Addis, Robina, 1900-1986.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


These papers reflect many different areas of Robina Addis's life and work, including her training and research; her involvement with both British and international societies and associations in the mental health field; visits abroad; lecturing, teaching and writing. After her official retirement she continued her involvement with the National Association for Mental Health, but was also able to extend her interests by working for the Save the Children Fund and other organisations, and these activities are also reflected in the collection.

There are, however, many gaps in the papers. While RSA's early training and research are covered, her pre-War work in child guidance and during the Second World War are represented mainly by lecture notes and publications. Her long career in the NAMH is chronologically well covered from 1950 onwards, but the quantity of material is not great and it can be assumed that most of the papers were retained in the Association's internal filing system. With certain exceptions most of the papers representing RSA's other activities date only from the 1960s onwards and it is impossible to say what proportion of the total survives. The sequences of lecture notes and publications, do, however, seem to be fairly comprehensive.



Physical description

26 boxes


The collection is divided into sections as follows:

A. Personal and biographical 1942-1986

B. General correspondence 1962-1983

C. Training and early career

1. London School of Economics 1932-1933

2. Research 1933-1935

3. Child Guidance c.1930-1936

4. Northampton 1939-1940

D. National Association for Mental Health (later MIND) 1946-1984

E. Societies and Associations

1. Semaines Internationales d'Etudes pour l'Enfance Victime de la Guerre 1945-1951

2. World Federation for Mental Health 1948-1986

3. Family Welfare Association 1960-1984

4. International Association for Suicide Prevention 1967-1977

5. Inter Clinic Conference and Child Guidance Trust 1970-1981

6. Save the Children 1971-1986

7. Professional Social Work Bodies 1961-1986

F. Visits and other activities

1. Nigeria 1961-1985

2. The Philippines 1964-1965

3. Other activities c.1933-1985

G. Teaching and examining 1953-1976

H. Lectures 1933-1975

J. Writings 1935-1977

K. Notes, subject files, collected publications and reports

1. Notes c.1942-c.1977

2. Subject files 1938-1970

3. Collected publications and reports 1917-1985

L. Photographs c.1950-c.1975

Acquisition note

These papers were given to the Wellcome Library in April 1987 by David Addis, Robina Addis's nephew (accession 259; 353).

Biographical note

Robina Addis was one of the earliest professionally trained psychiatric social workers in Britain, qualifying in 1933. She went on to have a varied career, first in child guidance and then for the National Association for Mental Health, from which she retired in 1965.

A biographical outline follows:

1900 Born, April

1914-1918 Educated at St Felix School, Southwold

1920-1922 Read Modern History at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford for 2 years; interrupted by illness

Year in China

Research for Charles Singer, medical historian [for 5 years]; assisted in the production of Catalogue of Latin and Vernacular Alchemical Manuscripts in Great Britain and Ireland: dating from before the XVI century, by Dorothea Waley Singer (Brussels: M Lamertin, 1928-1932)

[At some stage did voluntary work in the East End on behalf of the Invalid Children's Aid Society and ran a St Pancras Nursery group and a play group for epileptic children: exact dates unknown]

1929 Training course in Mental Health set up at LSE

London Child Guidance Clinic founded

1932-1933 RSA attended LSE course in Mental Health: tutor Miss Clement Brown; fieldwork at the Maudsley with Margaret Ashdown; practical childrens placement at the Child Guidance Clinic with William Moodie; qualified with distinction as a psychiatric social worker

c.1933-1934 Awarded American Commonwealth Fund Fellowship for research into enuresis

c.1934 Appointed to the staff of Canonbury Child Guidance Clinic [worked with William Moodie and John Bowlby]

1938 William Patterson Brown set up the North Western Child Guidance Clinic [Willesden] and asked RSA to help

1939 When war broke out, London Child Guidance Clinics closed

Following the recommendations of the Feversham Committee three of the voluntary associations working in the mental health field (Central Association for Mental Welfare, National Council for Mental Hygiene and the Child Guidance Council) amalgamated to form the Mental Health Emergency Committee

1939-1945 RSA sent to Northampton by the Mental Health Emergency Committee: Welfare Officer to child evacuees; started a child guidance service; ran various hostels for maladjusted children, the physically handicapped, blind and expectant mothers; after Dunkirk, cared for adults billeted in the Northampton area who were psychiatric casualties

1942 Mental Health Emergency Committee became the Provisional National Council for Mental Health, divided into 13 areas, based on Civil Defence Regions

1942 Oct RSA became Regional Representative of National Council for Civil Defence Region XII (Kent, Surrey and Sussex)

1945 Became British representative of SEPEG; attended conference in Switzerland

1946 Provisional National Council for Mental Health re-constituted on a peace-time basis; became the National Association for Mental Health

1948 WFMH founded

1951 Moved to London and became Head of NAMH Social Services Department

1952 Gave paper at the WFMH Annual Meeting in Brussels

1954-1965 Deputy General Secretary of NAMH

1956-1959 On Working Party on Social Workers in the Local Authority Health and Welfare Services [the Younghusband Working Party]

1957 European Office of the Technical Assistance Administration of the United Nations: member of the working party on the inter-country adoption of children in Europe

1960 Became Deputy General Secretary of MIND

1961 Became member of the Board of the World Federation for Mental Health

Visited Nigeria and gave a paper at the First Pan-African Conference on Mental Health

1964 Attended International Conference on Social Work and International Congress of Schools of Social Work, Athens

Invited to Malta to make a study of the possibilities of a child guidance service

1965 Officially retired

Became Vice-President of MIND

Awarded OBE

Spoke at the Philippine Mental Health Association Conference in Manila

Carried on with informal advice and counselling throughout her life

1979 Child Guidance Trust founded

1986 Died, September

Related material

In the Wellcome Library: Many of Robina Addis's books have been given to the Modern Medicine collection of the Wellcome Library. The papers of Charles and Dorothea Singer are held as PP/CJS. In other repositories: The papers of Robina's father, Sir Charles Addis (1861-1945), are in the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Copyright note

Copyright assigned to the Wellcome Trust. Anyone wishing to publish extensively from the papers (i.e. if a profit were to be made) must obtain permission from the Addis Trust.

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.

Appraisal note

The arrangement of the collection is largely the result of an imposed order. Many of the papers were in labelled files and, where one of these has been retained, the original file title has been indicated in inverted commas in the list. However, many of the files overlapped significantly in content or contained a diverse accumulation of material and therefore they have been split, weeded of duplicate or ephemeral items, and their contents have been refiled where appropriate. The files themselves were in no easily discernible order. During cataloguing, material relating to different stages in RSA's career or her involvement with different organisations, was grouped together. The remaining files fell into three main categories: those containing correspondence of a general nature, those relating to projects with which RSA was involved and subject files containing both published and unpublished papers collected together and relating to a particular topic. Although RSA did not seem to make any clear distinction between these categories in the way in which she ordered her papers, some guidance was given in the original file title which was often (although not always) of an individual (for correspondence), an organisation, or a topic and it was felt that division of the files along these lines would be appropriate. Other elements of RSA's record-keeping practices which were more apparent, such as her grouping of lectures and writings into series of chronologically divided files, have been retained.

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