My Callan Park Project

I am currently working on a brochure covering aspects of Callan Park’s mental treatment history. The Friends of Callan Park have kindly offered to guide me, fund the printing costs and promote the brochure. This post is coming quite late in my research cycle, as the final project – part of the History Beyond the Classroom unit at the University of Sydney – is due at midnight on November 20. I am intending to continue my research after this date and post my findings here. After that, the sky is the limit! New stories. New characters. And a new bunch of motley extras.

I intend to frame Callan Park as open, often tranquil and fundamentally humane. Where there are fissures – no perceived history – I intend to fill the gaps with informational grit. Where misleading beliefs exist, I intend to redefine them. My scope is therefore holistic and broad. I hope to paint a vivid picture of patients’ everyday lives, writing a brief (sometimes sensorial) history that conveys their humanity, utilises past and present photography and contains quotes from inmates’ jottings and the oral histories preserved at Leichhardt Library. This wide range of sources is entirely necessary. Callan Park’s history cannot be reduced to what is visually obvious through the maps and plans developers so often consult. I aspire (probably too audaciously) that future developers will take note. This is particularly important today considering the potential sale of the Kirkbride complex, if Sydney University ultimately vacates the premises.

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