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Clifford W. Beers papers

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Creator: Beers, Clifford Whittingham, 1876-1943

Date: 1903-1955

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Menninger Historic Psychiatry Coll., Beers, Box 1-4

Unit ID: 223254

Abstract: Beers' papers largely consist of handwritten and typed incoming and outgoing letters, as well as some correspondence about Beers. Correspondents include some family members, such as Clara's parents and Clifford's brother George, but mostly include friends and acquaintances, such as Erua Geuil Perriu, Marie O.Ley, Paul "Mac" McQuaid, Elizabeth Warner, Louise Gaffney, Dr. and Mrs. Toulouse, Mary Louise Bok, William and Alice James, and others. The subjects of the letters mostly concern Beers' efforts toward bettering the lives of patients with mental illnesses and the publication of his book, A Mind that Found Itself. The materials also include Beers' courtship letters to Miss Jepson (parts of which were removed by Clara before she donated them to the Menninger Foundation, as she deemed them too personal) and letters he wrote to her after they were married. Some letters are in French.

Also in the sub-collection are news clippings about Beers, brochures and other materials from the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, a 1903 handwritten newspaper by Beers and his first drawing from 1880, obituaries and letters about him after his death, materials related to a play based upon Beers' book and life, written by Nora Stirling and Nina Ridenour, and other miscellaneous materials. Also includes correspondence regarding the acquisition of Beers' papers by the Menninger Foundation. The materials are largely organized chronologically; the bulk of the papers date from 1907 to the 1930s.

Summary: Beers' papers, largely, consist of handwritten and typed incoming and outgoing letters, as well as some correspondence about Beers. Correspondents include some family members, such as his wife Clara's parents and Clifford's brother George, but mostly include friends and acquaintances, such as Erua Geuil Perriu, Marie O.Ley, Paul "Mac" McQuaid, Elizabeth Warner, Louise Gaffney, Dr. and Mrs. Toulouse, Mary Louise Bok, William and Alice James, and others. The subjects of the letters mostly concern Beers' efforts toward bettering the lives of patients with mental illnesses and the publication of his book, A Mind that Found Itself. The materials also include Beers' courtship letters to Miss Jepson (parts of which were removed by Clara before she donated them to the Menninger Foundation, as she deemed them too personal) and letters he wrote to her after they were married. Some letters are in French.

Space Required/Quantity: 2.00 cubic feet

Title (Main title): Clifford W. Beers papers

Titles (Other):

  • Correspondence

Part of: Menninger Foundation Archives. Historic Psychiatry sub-collection.

Language note: English, French.

Biography

Biog. Sketch (Full): Clifford Whittingham Beers, born in 1876 in New Haven, Connecticut to Ida and Robert Beers, attended Yale University and began a career in the insurance industry. In 1900, after a failed suicide attempt that involved leaping out of a fourth-story window, Beers was institutionalized in a mental hospital.

There followed a three-year period during which Beers was moved between private and public mental institutions. He suffered a great deal during this period, both due to his illness and due to the inhumane treatment he received in the various institutions in which he was confined. Beers was finally released in 1903 and able to return to his career, but he began advocating for patients with mental illnesses.

In 1908 Beers wrote the book A Mind that Found Itself, establishing him as an important reformer for mental health institutions. He began the Connecticut Committee for Mental Hygiene that same year, a national committee the following (now called Mental Health America), and the first outpatient clinic in the United States in 1913.

Beers married Clara Louise Jepson in 1912, following a long courtship.

Clifford W. Beers retired in 1939 and died in 1943.

Scope and Content

Portions of Collection Separately Described:


More separate components

Portions of Collection Not Separately Described:

  1. Beers, Clifford, 1963-1970 (Box 1, folder 1)
  2. Beers, Clifford Undated (Box 1, folder 2)
  3. Beers, Clifford Undated (Box 1, folder 3)
  4. Beers, Clifford Undated (Box 1, folder 4)
  5. Beers, Clifford Undated (Box 1, folder 5)
  6. Beers, Clifford Undated (Box 1, folder 6)
  7. Beers, Clifford Undated (Box 1, folder 7)
  8. Beers, Clifford Undated (Box 1, folder 8)
  9. Beers, Clifford Letter Undated (Box 1, folder 9)
  10. Beers, Clifford June 4 (?) (Box 1, folder 10)
More components

Locators:

Locator Contents
078-02-01-01 to 078-02-01-04   
980-18-00-00  Mostly small landscape paintings done by Beers; also some photographs and copies of sketches 

Related Records or Collections

Associated materials: Clifford Whittingham Beers papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.
MSS 121: Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic Records, 1902-1980, New Haven Museum.
Clifford Beers papers, Oskar Diethelm Library, Weill Medical College's Institute for the History of Psychiatry, Cornell University.

Index Terms

Subjects

    Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene
    National Committee for Mental Hygiene
    Beers, Clara Louise Jepson, 1874-1966 -- Correspondence
    Beers, Clifford Whittingham, 1876-1943 -- Correspondence
    Mental health education -- United States -- History -- 20th century
    Mental health planning -- United States
    Mental health services
    Mental health -- United States -- History -- 20th century
    Mental illness -- History -- 20th century

Creators and Contributors


Agency Classification:

    Organizations/Corporations. Menninger Foundation Archives. Historic Psychiatry. Individuals. Clifford Beers.

Additional Information for Researchers

Ownership/Custodial Hist.: Nina Ridenour of the Ittleson Family Foundation facilitated the donation of Beers' papers to the Menninger Foundation in the early 1960s, acting on behalf of Clara Beers, Clifford's widow.