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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

Fulton State Hospital


In 1847, the Missouri General Assembly enacted legislation to establish an asylum for the insane in the central area of the state. This institution was to provide physical care for societal "lunatics." Several counties were encouraged to bid for this institution. Callaway County was able to produce $11,500 and 500 acres of land, thus winning the bid. Fulton State Hospital, the first public mental institution west of the Mississippi River in 1851, admitted its first 67 patients in December.

The original building was three stories high, excluding the basement and attic. It contained 72 rooms and housed the same number of patients. The center of the building was reserved for a patient dining area, and lodging rooms for officers, attendants, and laborers. All employees of the hospital were required to live on the grounds, and had to obtain special permission from the Superintendent in order to leave. The hospital was almost totally self-sufficient at this time. By maintaining sewing rooms, vegetable and straw houses, raising their own food, pumping water from underground wells and streams, and making their own soap, the hospital was similar to a small city, requiring few resources from outside its grounds.

According to State Biennial Reports, several probable causes of mental illness were determined in the first cases admitted. Among the more unusual causes were indigestion, religious anxiety, disappointed love, intense study, and jealousy. Epilepsy and tuberculosis were the two most common causes. As psychiatry was virtually an unexplored field, primary emphasis was placed on the physical needs of the individuals and maintaining a system of order within the hospital. The majority of individuals at this time were aged 20 to 40, and ranged in occupation from broom makers to lawyers. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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The hospital structure is composed of a main center building and three horizontal sections on each side, at right angles with the center, and connected by transverse wings parallel with the center, and extending back so that each horizontal section shall be fully open at both ends of the main hall. The center building is of four stories, the horizontal wings of three stories, and the transverse blocks of four stories.

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Featured Video

The following is a short video produced by WBEZ "Curious City" on the Chicago State Hospital cemetery.

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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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