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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

Central Islip State Hospital


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The Central Islip Psychiatric Center started out as a Farm Colony for New York City in 1889. The patients were transferred from the crowded city asylums on Wards, Hart, and Blackwell Island.

Eventually the asylum was taken over by the state and was renamed the Manhattan State Hospital. The campus consisted of 1000 acres and was the largest asylum by land area. Over 100 buildings were built, 2 of which were quite unique. One being several ward groups connected by corridors that stretched approximately one mile long. The elegant architecture and length of the building led to its name as the "String of Pearls." The other complex with a unique layout was called the "Sunburst," which resembled a spoked wheel - the spokes were treatment wards connected to a central hub, with a curved, circular corridor connecting them all. A fire department with 10 employees was created in 1907, and a large medical building and a secure unit were constructed in the middle of the century.

Therapy consisted in working in the farms or one of the many shops. The center had two rail spurs to serve the main power plant (north colony) and the string of pearls (south colony) and even had its own steam engine. Visitors would also arrive by train and the hospital had its own passenger station. The hospital, later renamed to Central Islip State Hospital and finally known as Central Islip Psychiatric Center, began to become severely overcrowded through the 1950s. It reached its peak population of about 10,000 patients in 1955. Lobotomies, various types of shock treatments, and finally drug therapy replaced the long-gone treatments from the 19th century. The population dwindled in the 1970s and 1980s as de-institutionalization took hold, until it finally closed in 1996. The beautiful String of Pearls was demolished for the shopping mall that now stands in its place, the large 1953 power plant was imploded for condominiums in 2006, and the large secure treatment building called Corcoran together with the wooden 1907 firehouse were demolished in 2008. A few buildings have survived, as some of the campus was sold to the New York Institute of Technology and the structures have found a new use by the college. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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Construction of Battey General Hospital started in March of 1943 to serve as a hospital for sick, wounded and disabled World War II servicemen. It was fully activated on September 1, 1943 with Col. D.B.Faust as its first executive officer. The hospital was named for Dr. Robert Battey of Rome Georgia, who was a nationally famed pioneer in the surgical treatment for ovarian cancer and who built a medical complex in downtown Rome.

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Featured Video

*The following fifteen minute video was created by Inside Story and Andrea Hall on the closing of Danvers State Hospital.

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Asylum News   (news you can edit!)

February 7, 2016 Clarinda struggles to fill former hospital

The 128-year-old former mental health institute in the small southwest Iowa city of Clarinda isn’t your typical real estate opportunity, and so far no one is rushing to move in. More than seven months after the state closed the Clarinda Mental Health Institute, much of the sprawling building remains empty, including entire floors that haven’t been used in decades.

February 1, 2016 Efforts continue to preserve other parts of former Peoria State Hospital grounds

Christina Morris happily remembers Sunday morning breakfasts with her grandparents, followed by visits to the peaceful cemeteries on the grounds of the Peoria State Hospital, where some family members are buried. “My interest with the state hospital started when I was about 7 years old,” Morris said in a recent interview. “When I would come onto the grounds (my grandfather) would say that this was a place of special people. (By special) I thought he meant giants, because these buildings were so big and beautiful and immaculate to me. I just was enamored by how beautiful it was.”

January 7, 2016 That Time The United States Sterilized 60,000 Of Its Citizens

Not too long ago, more than 60,000 people were sterilized in the United States based on eugenic laws. Most of these operations were performed before the 1960s in institutions for the so-called “mentally ill” or “mentally deficient.” In the early 20th century across the country, medical superintendents, legislators, and social reformers affiliated with an emerging eugenics movement joined forces to put sterilization laws on the books.

January, 6, 2016 Pa. hires firm to develop plan for Harrisburg State Hospital site

Harrisburg, PA-The state has hired a Lancaster planning company to help it figure out what to do with the former Harrisburg State Hospital, which closed 10 years ago. Since closing in 2006, the hospital complex has housed state workers from the state police, Department of General Services and the Department of Human Services. It is now part of the larger DGS Annex property, which encompasses 303 acres across Harrisburg and Susquehanna Township.







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