University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Mental Health Resources

Resources about mental health can be difficult to locate in the archives. The language we use to describe emotional states and psychological conditions have changed dramatically over time. There has been long-standing stigmatization of emotional or mental health challenges leading to erasure of these materials in the historical record. In general, correspondence and diaries are good sources of information, even through inference, about mental and emotional well-being, though they might not be described with those terms attached to them. We have tried to include many different aspects of emotional and mental health, including conditions like shyness, anxiety, substance abuse and depression, as well as “nervousness” and the need for “rest,” which were more common terms in the 19th century. Many of the resources included are personal accounts of struggle with various aspects of mental health.

Archival Material

A. Carman Clark papers, 1917-2005

Clark began her writing career in 1959 when her articles began to appear in such magazines as Woman’s Day, Country Journal, and Farm Journal, as well as several local newspapers. She wrote avidly, both personally and professionally. Her professional writings centered on home, garden and country living, but her personal writings chronicled her struggle with alcoholism, divorce and other sensitive subjects. Her diaries and journals are rich resources that reflect a complex emotional life.

Isabelle Maria Hoffses diaries, 1862–1908

Six diaries written by Waldoboro teacher Isabelle Maria Hoffses between 1862 and 1908 primarily record her deep concerns about her spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical health.

Ruth Mendelsohn papers, 1969-1995

Journalist and freelance writer Ruth Mendelson moved to Maine in 1978 and worked for the Lewiston Daily Sun. Her chapbook, Sixteen Pastorals, won the first Maine State Commission on the Arts & Humanities’ poetry chapbook competition in 1982. Mendelsohn’s manuscript collection reflects her struggle with confidence as a writer and with depression, which eventully lead her to give up writing.

May Sarton papers, 1860-1994

May Sarton’s writing and personal correspondence opened up her internal life to readers, revealing emotional volatility, anger, despair and a deep need for silence and solitude. Sarton’s work Journal of a Solitude (1973) was a benchmark in American memoir, offering women a chance to see their own struggles reflected on the page. Sarton’s correspondence and photographs are a rich resource for insights into Sarton’s personal life.

Lucy C. Williams diaries, 1980-1998

Williams was born on February 18, 1913 and spent most of her life on the island of Vinalhaven. Her inner life, while often recorded in vague terms, is quite apparent as she struggles to cope with the trials of aging while supporting her family and community. Her diaries reveal a woman devoted to her extended family and to the multitude of friends she has both on and off Vinalhaven, but also paint a picture of isolation and depression, often giving the impression that she only shares these internal thoughts with the journals.