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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
Callan Park Hospital for the Insane
The Colonial Government bought the whole 104.5 acres as a site for a new lunatic asylum to be designed according to the enlightened views of the American Dr Thomas Kirkbride. Colonial Architect James Barnett worked in collaboration with Inspector of the Insane Dr Frederick Norton Manning to produce a group of some twenty neo-classical buildings, completed in 1885 and subsequently named the Kirkbride Block, offering progressive patient care.
The asylum was the 'institutional linchpin' of moral therapy and the appropriate design of the building was crucial to the success of the therapy.  Pleasant surroundings and well designed, comfortable, small-scale buildings were imperative. These aims were embodied in a pavilion-type layout, where small buildings had all-weather connections and the spaces in between were landscaped as courtyards for outdoor activities. Manning chose Chartham Down because it was a pavilion-type layout in which separate ward blocks enclosed airing courts. Ultimately, the combination of Manning's understanding of moral therapy, Barnet's architecture, and the outstanding site at Callan Park, produced a design of a higher standard than Chartham.
Together they designed five male and five female wards, to accommodate approximately 600 patients. The wards were symmetrically arranged about the main cross axis on which the official buildings were planned. Eight of the lofty, airy wards, had large airing courts – some with a view to the Blue Mountains. The other two had high retaining walls caused by the slope of the land. A remarkable continuous covered veranda linked the buildings. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
On 31 July 1894 the buildings on the Kenmore Estate, Goulburn,
were appointed a Hospital for the Insane, on a site purchased for the purpose in 1879. By the end of 1894 temporary accommodation for 140 patients was ready, with hospital wards to be completed. Personnel were appointed to positions at Kenmore Hospital on 1 January 1895. Upon opening, 152 patients from other hospitals were transferred to Kenmore, with 146 male patients resident in the Hospital at the end of 1895. Although some wards were already occupied, it was anticipated that the hospital would be completed by June 1897, to provide services to the southern region of the State.
The following fifteen minute video documentary, created by SBS Dateline, is about New York City's Hart island, the history of the structures on it, and its massive potters field where over 700,000 people have been buried since 1868. It also features a few women who have worked to visit their still born children buried on the island. How these women and others have been working to get the island more accessible to those who want to visit the grave site.
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.
Asylum Projects Facebook Page
If you have genealogical question here is an information page to help you.