He is what we would call a very good attendant, who would not run away or flinch from any patient, but would try to have his orders carried out if possible. Such was the view of William Coady, attendant to the insane in the British settler colony of Victoria, Australia in the 1870s.
This book is a history of William Coady's occupation, a history asylum work and workers in nineteenth-century Australia. It considers not only who attendants were and why they worked in the asylum, but also how they and others variously defined the very good attendant.
Colonial asylum advocates imagined the attendant as an archetype, drawing on ideas from Britain about the nature of insanity and its treatment. In exploring the articulation of these ideas in a specific colonial context and their effect on the colonial asylum workplace, Lee-Ann Monk makes an important contribution to the international history of the asylum. She also opens new dimensions in the history of this occupation, on which the fate of patients very much depended, by analysing attendants' efforts to construct an occupational identity and give meaning to their work, thus providing new insights into their sense of themselves and their occupation.
Lee-Ann Monk is an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow (Industry) in the History Program, La Trobe University, Australia, where she is writing a history of Kew Cottages, Australia's first purpose-built institution for people with learning disability, as part of an interdisciplinary research team funded by an ARC-Linkage Grant.
Acknowledgements Abbreviations Introduction 1 `An Asylum for the Safe Custody and Proper Treatment of the Insane' 2 `A Proper Man to Have Charge of Lunatics' 3 `We Have Always Conducted Ourselves Independently' 4 Artisans of Reason 5 Proper Instructions: Excellent Attendants 6 `A Different Class of Attendants' 7 `You Have to be Firm and Determined with Them' 8 `Some of Us are Married Men and Have Families' 9 `I Would Not Give an Ounce of Practical Experience for a Pound of Theory' Select Bibliography Index