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The mission of this site is to archive both historical and current information on asylums across the United States and around the world.
This site is dedicated to the history of asylums in all forms. The term of asylum is applied to not only what is commonly thought of: mental hospitals, but can also be applied to sanatoriums, state training schools, reform schools, almshouses, and orphanages. These institutions have and continue to play a major part in today's society.
Everyone throughout the United States and in many other countries has in one way or another felt the touch of these institutions. These places have both directly and indirectly affected people and their families. They have shaped lives and created many popular myths about them.
With all that in mind, this site was created to help in the historical research of any institutions that can be classified as an asylum. It was created for both serious researchers, those who are doing genealogical research, and people with an interest in asylums.
Featured Article Of The Week
Rochester State Hospital
By a special law passed by the Legislature of 1873 and amended in 1874 a tax of $10 on all liquor dealers was assessed to raise a fund for the establishment of a state inebriate asylum which, when completed, was to be maintained by a continuation of the same tax. As soon as a sufficient fund was accumulated the Inebriate Asylum Board purchased a farm of 160 acres, within a mile and a half of the City of Rochester, for $9000, secured plans and began building in 1877. Strong opposition was raised by liquor dealers against this tax as discriminating and unjust. Test cases were tried in the courts and the constitutionality of the law was sustained. At the same time it became apparent and was admitted generally that additional room was much more urgently needed for the care of the rapidly increasing insane of the state than for the care of inebriates. The Legislature of 1878, in view of this and of the determined opposition to an inebriate asylum to be built and maintained on such a plan, repealed the act levying the tax and changed the inebriate asylum to the Second Minnesota Hospital for Insane, which title was later changed to the Rochester State Hospital (in 1883), with the proviso, however, that inebriates should be admitted and cared for and treated at the expense of the state on the same basis as the insane. Accordingly a separate ward was maintained for inebriates until the department was abolished by the Legislature in 1897.
The building was in an unfinished condition, and consisted of a center and small east wing, then only under roof, without inside finish, and without outbuildings, such as laundry and engine house. When the trustees examined the property they recognized its unfitness for the purposes of an insane hospital and the fact that it would necessarily require many changes to adapt it to this new use. Owing to these objections they hesitated to accept the transfer; but the urgency for room was so great they reluctantly concluded to do the best they could with it. An appropriation of $15,000 accompanied the transfer as a fund to be used to prepare the building for the accommodation of patients. This was in the summer of 1878. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
The St. Peter State Hospital
began in March 1866 when the Minnesota State Legislature responded to the need for an asylum by passing "an act for the establishment and location of a hospital for the insane in the state of Minnesota, and to provide for the regulation of the same." The act also created a board of trustees and appointed six commissioners responsible for recommending a permanent location for the state's hospital. A number of Minnesota communities vied for the facility and each claimed to be the most attractive village. However, on 1 July 1866, the commissioners made their recommendation.
Suffer The Little Children was an expose created in 1968 to expose the conditions at Pennhurst. It was originally a five-part television news report anchored by local CBS10 correspondent Bill Baldini.
Recent Message Board Posts
In this space you normally would see our forum. This had been a hold over from earlier days before we had a Facebook page. Just prior to our server issues regular users had been barely using the forum with the majority of new posts from anonymous users asking genealogy questions or spammers. The old forum software does not work with our new version while the new forum software does not carry over old comments to the new forum. As a result, the forum will be discontinued in favor of our Facebook page. If you have questions or comments you can ask them there.
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If you have genealogical question here is an information page to help you.