This survey was conducted in Dumfriesshire by Dr Mayer-Gross of the Crichton Royal Hospital and Marjorie Brown, who worked at the hospital as a psychiatric social worker and later became the Director of the School of Social Study at Edinburgh University in 1951. The survey was the first of its kind in Scotland.
Surviving records include over 5000 individual questionnaires about mental health arranged by geographical area. Each survey is accompanied by a brief summary which records the thoughts of local professionals such as teachers, doctors, police constables and church ministers on the individual concerned. While the survey took around 500 individuals who had been treated at the Crichton Royal Hospital as its starting point, the majority of those included had received no treatment nor formal diagnosis, and their inclusion is based purely on the observations of people in positions of authority.
The summaries, redacted versions of which have been transcribed into the online catalogue, include sexist, racist and ableist language, and display derogatory attitudes towards women, disabled persons and ethnic minorities. Behaviours that are accepted and embraced today are cited as evidence of mental illness, such as homosexuality and female promiscuity, as are neurological conditions such as epilepsy and dyslexia. Similarly, behaviours that are widely condemned were often condoned and excused by the professionals involved, in particular family violence.
The summaries also record information about about rural housing conditions, schooling, personal finance and leisure activities.
Dr Mayer-Gross wrote an article on the survey for The Eugenics Review in 1948.