New publication explores the life and works of Robert Baillie

The Institute of Scottish Historical Research is delighted to announce the publication in the St Andrews Studies in Scottish History series of Alexander D. Campbell’s The Life and Works of Robert Baillie (1602-1662) Politics, Religion and Record-Keeping in the British Civil Wars.

9781783271849_1From 1637 to 1660, the Scots witnessed rapid and confused changes in government and violent skirmishing, whilst impassioned religious disputes divided neighbours, friends and family. One of the most vivid accounts of this period may be found in the letters of the Glaswegian minister, Robert Baillie; but whilst his correspondence has long featured in historical accounts of the period, the man behind these writings has largely been forgotten.

Based on the first, systematic reading of Baillie’s extensive surviving manuscripts, comprising thousands of leaves of correspondence, treatises, sermons, and notebooks, this biography draws together for the first time an analysis of Baillie’s career and writings, establishing his significance as a polemicist, minister, theologian, and contemporary historian.

Alexander D. Campbell is Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Post-Doctoral Fellow, Queen’s University, Canada.

The Life and Works of Robert Baillie (1602-1662) Politics, Religion and Record-Keeping in the British Civil Wars is available now from the Boydell and Brewer website.

Exploring the History of Psychiatry

The first of two series of weekly podcasts on the History of Psychiatry in Britain since the Renaissance, recorded by ISHR’s Rab Houston, has just been launched. This first series covers England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland during the last 500 years, looking at continuities and change in how mental illness was understood and treated, and at the radical shifts in systems of caring for those who were either ‘mad’ or mentally handicapped during the last two centuries.

The coverage is broad, ranging from how mental problems were identified and described in the past, through changing ideas about their causes and contemporary therapeutic practices, to important themes such as the reasons behind the emergence of psychiatry as a profession and the rise and fall of asylums as a location of care.

The series explores the history of suicide, madness in the media, psychiatry and the law, relations between medical practitioners and patients, and it assessing evidence that the incidence of mental illness has changed over time. It begins and ends with discussion of the value of history and the vital lessons that can be learned by studying the past.

The series is available free of charge and without registration, and comprises 44 podcasts of between 8 and 16 minutes each, which will be released on the website and on Soundcloud each week. The podcasts are grouped around 13 big questions or topics in the history of psychiatry; you can find these and the titles of individual podcasts on the website, along with some brief suggestions for both background and further reading.

You can access the podcasts through the project website and on SoundCloud.

A second series of podcasts, entitled ‘The voice of the mad in Britain from the Renaissance to the present day,’ will start broadcasting early in 2017. Using extracts from the writings of those with mental problems or from their reported speech, this second series will explore a range of mental disorders ranging from autism and depression to schizophrenia and obsessive stalking.