Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders


IDENTITY STATEMENT
Reference code(s): GB 0102 LH
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies Library
Domain: archival
Title: Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders
Date(s) of contents: 1896-1997
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium: 17 boxes

CONTEXT

Name of creator(s): Lebanon Hospital for the Insane
Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders

Administrative/Biographical history: The Lebanon Hospital for the Insane, Asfuriyeh, was founded in 1898 by Dr Theophilus Waldmeir (1832-1915), a Swiss Quaker, to provide care for the mentally afflicted of the Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East.

On 17 April 1896, a public meeting was held at Dr Henry Jessup's house in Beirut, to announce the plan for founding 'the first Home for the insane in Bible Lands'. The campaign was launched, Waldmeier travelled to Europe and the USA to collect funds, and the Beirut Executive Committee was founded. The first meeting of the London General Committee (LGC) was held at the Bethlem Royal Asylum on 11 March 1897 and its Medical Superintendent, Dr Percy Smith, was elected as Chairman. The Asfuriyeh estate was purchased in April 1898, six miles from the centre of Beirut. The Hospital opened on 6 August 1900 with 10 patients. The Hospital's Constitution and Rules were formally drawn up in 1907. Under the Constitution, the Beirut Committee officially became the local executive committee in Beirut of the London General Committee, which retained overall authority over the Hospital.

In 1912 the property became a 'Wakf' , i.e. it was dedicated as a religious foundation under the code of law prevailing in the Lebanon, to be held by the Chairman of the London General Committee (who became the 'Trustee' or 'Mutawalli'). This set down the responsibilities of the 'Trustee' and his agents (in this case the Beirut Executive Committee) for managing the property. It was made a condition that the Hospital should be international and interdenominational.

The Lebanon Hospital for the Insane gradually expanded, and there was reportedly accommodation for 150 people by 1924; 350 by 1935; and 410 by 1936. By 1949, 14,000 patients had been treated since the opening of the Hospital. In 1938 the Hospital was renamed the Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders.

In addition to clinical work, the Hospital contributed to training in the field of psychiatry. In 1922 it was affiliated with the American University of Beirut and became the Psychiatric Division of the University Hospital. In 1939 it was recognised by the Royal Medical/Psychological Association as a Training Centre for the Mental Nursing Certificate. In 1948, it opened a School of Psychiatric Nursing, the first of its kind in the Middle East, and which was subsequently used by the World Health Organisation for the training of specialised personnel. Treatment at the Hospital followed world-wide medical advances, and included Insulin Coma Therapy, Cardiazol Convulsion Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Electric Convulsion Therapy. Chemotherapy was introduced in 1952.

Between 1941 and 1946, a large part of the Hospital had to be handed over to the British Military Authorities, then in occupation of the Lebanon, to house their 43rd General Hospital. In the post-war climate, the Hospital's financial status never fully recovered, and by 1972 the Hospital was experiencing real financial difficulties. It was decided to sell the existing site and buildings and to re-build the Hospital on a more modern plan. A new site was chosen at Aramoun, near Beirut Airport. Asfuriyeh was sold in April 1973. The building programme was brought to a halt by the Lebanese Civil War (April 1975 - November 1976), and construction did not resume until summer 1977. The need for replacement materials and inflated prices meant that by the end of 1977, the Hospital was on the point of bankruptcy.

Despite appeals for funds, by early 1981 negotiations had commenced between the London General Committee and the Beirut Executive Committee to close the Hospital and to dispose of the property in accordance with the legal terms of the 'Wakf'. The Hospital at Asfuriyeh was officially closed on 10 April 1982. Aramoun continued to operate, although extensively damaged during the Civil War and occupied by the Israeli Army until 17 October 1982.

The LGC eventually resigned control of the Hospital itself to the Beirut Committee. However, in accordance with its continued responsibilities for trust funds established in the Hospital's name and held in the UK, it retained several of its members as London Trustees of the Lebanon Hospital for Nervous and Mental Disorders and established a scheme for the administration of these funds under charitable status. The Trustees continue to operate.

The Hospital's founder, Theophilus Waldmeier, was born in 1832 in Basle, Switzerland. He attended the missionary college of St Crischona, near Basle, and went to Abyssinia as a missionary in 1858. He left in 1868 and went to Syria, settling at Beirut in connection with the British Syrian Mission founded in 1860. In 1873, he started the Friends' Syrian Mission at Brummana, where he was superintendent, and founded Brummana High School. He relinquished his position in 1896 in order to promote his plan of providing a home for the insane. He travelled extensively to appeal for funds. Returning to Beirut in 1898, he purchased the site at Asfuriyeh. He became business superintendent at the Lebanon Hospital and retired in 1915, the year of his death. He published The Autobiography of Theophilus Waldmeier, Missionary, being an account of Ten Years' Life in Abyssinia and Sixteen Years in Syria (1886).

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: This collection was presented to SOAS by Lawrence Naish, on behalf of the London Trustees of the Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders, on 20 July 1998.

CONTENT AND STRUCTURE

Scope and content/abstract: Records, 1896-1997, of the London General Committee of the Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders (formerly Lebanon Hospital for the Insane), comprising:
papers, 1907-1983, relating to the Hospital constitution, financial and legal postition, and closure, including copies of the constitution, 1907, 1965, and photocopies of the Wakf Deed (1912);
minutes of the London General Committee, 1897-1982, and Sub-Committee, 1910-1920;
copies of minutes of the Beirut Executive Committee, 1950-1982;
accounts and balance sheets, 1941-1982, including some auditors' reports from 1953 onwards;
ledgers, c1950-1982, recording transactions, investments, funds and expenses;
cash book, 1977-1981, recording transactions and investments;
correspondence and papers, 1896-1916, of and relating to Theophilus Waldmeier in connection with the Hospital, including correspondence with the London General Committee and Treasurer, and Waldmeier's progress reports written for donors and subscribers, the subjects including building and equipping the Hospital, patients, treatment and recovery, fundraising and financial matters, also including press cuttings and obituaries on Waldmeier, 1915-1916;
general files of correspondence and papers relating to Hospital administration, 1902-1997, the subjects including staffing, trust funds and endowments, appeals for funds and other financial matters, and closure, including some correspondence of Sir Geoffrey Furlonge (Chairman of the London General Committee), 1971-1981, and correspondence with the Charity Commission, 1984-1997;
annual reports, 1899, 1956-1974 (incomplete series);
publicity material, c1897-1971, including speeches, texts of radio broadcasts, various publications, and autobiography of Theophilus Waldmeier;
photographs, 1909, 1956, 1974, including the hospital at Asfuriyeh and the site at Aramoun;
miscellaneous papers, 1898-c1992, including undated list of Chairmen of the London General Committee (1906-1970), reports on visits to the Hospital, 1964-1965, reports and photographs of damage to Aramoun, 1991-c1992, and ground plan of Asfuriyeh, revised 1907.

System of arrangement: Arranged in sections as indicated in 'Scope and content'.

ACCESS AND USE

Language: English, French, German and Arabic

Conditions governing access: Unrestricted, except for Box 17 (correspondence and papers containing sensitive personal data from the general files), which is closed until 2045.

Conditions governing reproduction: No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids: Unpublished handlist and database.

ALLIED MATERIALS

DESCRIPTION NOTES

Archivist's note: Compiled by Joanne Ichimura. Revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: National Register of Archives; British Library OPAC; Brummana High School website: http://www.bhs.edu.lb/history.html

Date(s) of descriptions: Apr 2002


INDEX ENTRIES
Subjects
Accounting
Agricultural economics
Associations
Autobiographies
Broadcasting
Broadcasting programmes
Charitable organisations
Charities
Christians
Deeds
Documents
Finance
Financial administration
Financial statements
Health
Health services
Hospital administration
Hospital finance
Hospital management
Hospitals
International conflicts
Land economics
Land tenure
Life sciences
Literary forms and genres
Medical personnel
Medical profession
Medical sciences
Medical treatment
Medicine
Mental diseases
Mental health
Missionaries
Newspaper press
Organizations
Patients
Personnel management
Photographs
Plans
Press
Press cuttings
Programme content
Prose
Protestant nonconformists
Protestants
Psychiatry
Psychopathology
Quakers
Radio
Radio programmes
Religious groups
Therapy
Visual materials
War
War damage

Personal names
Furlonge | Sir | Geoffrey Warren | 1903-1984 | Knight | diplomat
Waldmeier | Theophilus | 1832-1915 | Swiss missionary

Corporate names
Charity Commission
Lebanon Hospital for the Insane x Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders

Places
Aramoun
Asfuriyeh
Beirut
England
Lebanon
London
Middle East
UK
Western Europe