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Both the Greystone and Athens Kirkbride buildings are in danger of being partially or completely demolished.
Please click on the link above for more information and to see how you can help.

Mission Statement

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The Mission

The mission of this site is to archive both historical and current information on asylums across the United States and around the world.

The Statement

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

Bolivar State Hospital

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Western State Mental Hospital, located near Bolivar, was the last state mental hospital to be constructed and habitually the one least funded. In December 1885 the site commissioners chose the farm of Paul T. Jones as the location for the proposed facility.

The institution's patient population grew from a few hundred in the 1890s to over 2,000 in the 1960s as patients remained hospitalized for decades. Many were crowded into large dormitories and had little privacy. With a limited number of doctors and attendants and a large patient population, many were simply "warehoused."

Patients at Western received the treatments available in their period of institutionalization. These treatments ranged from hydrotherapy and insulin shock therapy to lobotomies and electric shock therapy. With the severe staff limitations, however, patients were fortunate to receive ten minutes per week with a psychiatrist.

The system for securing financing for patient care limited the operating budget. In Tennessee, there were three classes of patients: the state-pay patients, the county-pay patients, and the private-pay patients. State agencies agreed to pay for one patient out of a population of one thousand. Once this portion of the payment had been satisfied, the county was responsible for additional costs. The county payments consistently lagged behind, and superintendents had to engage in deficit spending to keep the hospital operating. The two most influential superintendents, Dr. Edwin Cocke and Dr. Edwin Levy, often faced political pressure from state officials, but both managed to make some improvements in the care offered at Western. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

While the hospital was originally established to provide residential treatment and care to the mentally ill and the criminally insane, its functions expanded to include a training program for nurses in 1889 and a pathological research laboratory in 1895. In the 1890s, Dr. Charles Page, the superintendent, declared mechanical restraint unnecessary and harmful in cases of mental illness. By the 1920s the hospital was operating school clinics to help determine mental deficiency in children.

Recent Message Board Posts

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What building is this? 9 55 Wed 26th 3:29 pm - DThomas
Asylum Postcard Corner 8 226 Tue 25th 11:02 pm - Kirkbridian
Anything New? 5 137 Thu 20th 5:22 pm - Thomasp94
Green County, Wisconsin, Poor ... 1 2 20 3896 Wed 19th 12:58 am - Salsdodge
Looking for information on a f... 1 208 Mon 17th 4:56 pm -
Update on Worcester State Hosp... 15 211 Mon 17th 4:14 pm - WSH
Montgomery County Alms House 0 39 Sun 16th 11:04 pm - Cambigdog
St John's Orphan Asylum Utica ... 1 67 Thu 13th 12:52 pm -
Former St. Elizabeth's State H... 0 54 Thu 13th 6:27 am - Squad546
my dad & his siblings were pat... 4 1215 Tue 11th 5:15 am -
Project Kirkbride 15 2313 Mon 10th 12:36 am -
Topeka State Hospital Admin. t... 9 1562 Thu 6th 11:48 pm -
Woodville State Hospital Pa 0 59 Mon 3rd 11:41 pm -
Julia Sinkey former patient 0 63 Sun 2nd 9:57 pm -
grandmother: Mary Isabelle Fla... 0 65 Fri 31st 10:11 pm - Connie1948

Featured Video

The following sixth-eight minute documentary entitled "If these walls could talk stories behind Toronto's psychiatric patient built wall" is about the Queen Street Mental Health Centre. It was created by Toronto filmmakers Naomi Berlyne and Sibyl Likely.

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Asylum News   (news you can edit!)


BERLIN, VERMONT – The nearly complete $38 million Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital is a state-of-the-art mental health facility that feels all but institutional.

January 27, 2014 A kinder approach: Former Allentown State Hospital CEO is recognized for reducing restraint tactics

The former CEO walks on the roof of the Allentown State Hospital. He is armed with his high-definition camera and decades of memories to provide context to what he sees. Each step on the roof frames a new perspective of the hospital he helped to transform. The rooms in the former psychiatric center are empty. It has been three years since the hospital closed. For Greg Smith, it is easy to reminisce. He can fill in the blanks, but there aren't many signs of what used to happen at the 100-year-old campus.

January 27, 2014 Taunton State Hospital again faces closure

The state's plan to close the inpatient unit at Taunton State Hospital reflects a philosophical shift that emphasizes community-based services over institutional care, a mental health official said Friday. For the third straight year, the state is proposing to move all inpatient beds from Taunton State Hospital to the new Worcester Recovery Center. In each of the past two years, the state faced staunch local opposition. As a compromise struck in the Legislature, 45 beds currently remain at Taunton State, which used to have about 170.

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