CAHG logo archive of the year'Archive of the Year' 2013

'Most Impactful' Archive 2011


Patron of the Archive and Study Centre: Professor Barbara Gold Taylor



During the course of the 1980s the Trust identified a major deficit in the sources and resources available for research, study, communication and training in relation to the history, practice and public understanding of therapeutic work with children, young people and adults, particularly in residential therapeutic settings. Having ascertained that these needs were not being met elsewhere, the Trust set out an ambitious programme to provide a facility where they were.

In 1989 it established the Archive and Study Centre, in order to create a permanent, professional home for the memory of the field - the records, objects and experiences making up the heritage of therapeutic communities, therapeutic environments, and progressive/alternative/democratic education. Because of their success, the Trust commissioned the Barns Conference Centre, which opened in 2002 with the explicit aim of extending the provision available to support the field and the work of the Archive and Study Centre by creating residential accommodation for researchers, and facilities for day and residential seminars, conferences, meetings, and events.

What we have:


We hold  several hundred archive collections of individuals, organisations, societies, schools, units and other places related to group and therapeutic environments and progressive/alternative/democratic education.

Go to Archives.


We have a comprehensive walk-in library of books, dissertations, periodicals, offprints and grey literature related to therapeutic community and planned environment therapy, group therapies, and progressive/democratic/alternative education, supported by substantial collections on intentional communities, prisons, legal systems and penal reform, psychology and psychotherapy, medical and child care history, the history, theory and practice of education - and more. Many of the items we hold are rare, unique, or hard to find:  from an original copy of the 1945 Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic which announced the term "therapeutic community" to the world, to a set of storybook audiocassette tapes of Enid Blyton's Naughtiest Girl in the School.

On our wesbite we host a variety of theses and dissertations, specially commissioned monographs, articles and other publications.

Go to Library.

Oral history and audio/video recordings

With over 2,000 audio and video recordings, including oral history interviews, recordings of talks and events, copies of commercial and archival films, videos, and audio recordings, we are a major resource for the history and practice of therapeutic environments and progressive education. Our collection of rare gramophone records was recently used in a BBC Radio 4 broadcast on the work of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott.

Go to Oral history/audio-video.

What we do

Take in and look after material: The Archive and Study Centre takes in and looks after records, objects, ephemera, publications, and recordings related to therapeutic communities, therapeutic environments, and progressive/alternative/democratic education. If you know of people, organisations or institutions looking for a home for items or collections related to the field, please let them know of us. And please let them know that it is better to be safe than sorry - when in doubt, don't throw it out; we can help you decide.

Projects, involvements, support and contributions to the field: We also actively reach out to, involve, and work with people, organisations and communities which are concerned and involved with therapeutic environments and progressive/democratic/alternative education, past, present and future. 

Go to Involvements, outreach, and contributions to the field


Commercial users and broadcast media excepted, access to the collections is free, although donations are gladly accepted.

Staffing levels are restricted, so arranging a visit in advance is essential. Having said which, with enough advance notice, we can generally accommodate groups and individuals wishing to visit at most times on most days.

The Archive User's Room is on the ground floor, and there is good disabled access. There is a special disabled toilet in the accommodation building. 


For further information: