The Victor Larco Herrera Hospital in the centre of Lima, Peru, was closed in 1917. Its archives, dating back to 1859, consist of medical documentation as well as administrative reports. They enrich our understanding of the history of psychiatry in the region and across South America.
The history of psychiatry in Peru has not yet been written. The academic work in this field is limited, and the history of 19th-century asylums remains understudied in Latin America. The documentation digitised in this project offers exceptional insight into the birth of "alienism" and into the influence of the "mental hygiene" movement in the country.
The archive is endangered due to environmental factors. The highly humid environment and inadequate archiving facilities put the material at risk. Moreover, the Hospital suffers from a lack of funding, and the survival of the institution is unclear. If the Hospital were to close, the material would be lost.
The project digitised seven collections of documents describing the administrative history of the Lima Asylum. These are the result of the organisation and classification of eight books and three medical files amounting to approximately 4,500 text documents. The project increased awareness of the archive's value in the Institution, and trained all members of the team in archival practices, digitisation and metadata creation. Copies of the files are available in the Victor Larco Herrera Hospital, at the University of San Marco, and in the Lugar de la Memoria, la Tolerancia y la Inclusión Social.