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Preserving History: The Gould Farm Archive

The Archive Committee, Pictured L - R: Claudette Callahan, Bob Rausch, Barbara Swann, Stephanie McMahon, Lisanne Finston, Janet West, Katie Mendelsohn, and Ken Gleason. Not pictured: Virgil and Lis Stucker and Steve Snyder.

A window into the past

Gould Farm, a therapeutic community that has provided treatment for individuals with mental illness since its establishment in 1913, holds a significant place in the history of mental health treatment. Its enduring commitment to care has spanned over a century, leaving behind a wealth of knowledge and stories. The Gould Farm archive, a treasure trove of historical information, documents not only the history of the Farm but also the development of therapeutic communities. These archives serve as a window into the past, offering invaluable insights into the social, cultural, and medical aspects of bygone eras.

A handful of the thousands of items in the archive

Description of items pictured: A copy of "Community and Psychotherapy: A Study of Gould Farm" by sociologist Henrik F. Infield who spent his career researching and writing about cooperative communities; a photo of the living room in Main House; a photo of the Main House kitchen; a paper about Gould Farm by James Luther Adams, Harvard professor, minister, and theologian; a photo of the front of Main House in the early 1900s; Caroline Goodyear, sister of Agnes Gould, in the gardens; an unnamed Austrian cook in front of Main House in 1914; an unnamed farmer with a team of horses; one of many boxes of archive materials ready to be sorted.

Reconnecting and reinvigorating efforts

After a prolonged hiatus caused by the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gould Farm archive committee reconvened on May 9, 2023. Gathering together in the welcoming atmosphere of Gould Farm's dining room, the committee members enjoyed a convivial lunch before delving into a lively discussion about the current state of the collection. Since then, the committee has continued to meet, engaging in meaningful conversations to propel the project forward.

The committee's vision

The committee identified three key areas of focus during their recent meeting. First and foremost is the completion of organizing and cataloging the materials housed within the archive rooms. This meticulous process ensures that every item is accounted for, creating an organized and accessible resource for future researchers and interested individuals. Secondly, the committee is diligently researching options for safeguarding the original materials, ensuring their preservation for generations to come. Lastly, they are dedicated to developing a comprehensive finding aid/index, enabling wider access to the archives and facilitating a deeper understanding of Gould Farm's remarkable history.

Exploring partnerships and digital possibilities

Lisanne Finston, executive director, proposed a field trip to the Austen Riggs archives in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, offering the committee an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with archival professionals. In addition, the committee discussed the potential of talking with local organizations such as the Monterey Historical Society, Bidwell House, and other entities facing similar archival needs. Exploring digitization possibilities, the committee acknowledged the significance of organizations like Digital Commonwealth, which could provide resources and expertise for preserving and digitizing images and other valuable materials in the future.

Preserving the legacy and advocating for change

The Gould Farm archive committee approaches its work with a sense of honor and enthusiasm. The archive serves as a cornerstone for preserving the legacy of Gould Farm and its founders. With a long-term goal of digitizing the archive, the committee aims to make it more accessible to researchers, scholars, and future generations. By undertaking this ambitious project, the committee hopes to contribute to the advocacy for improved mental health policies and practices as well as a deeper understanding of the roots of the Farm.



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