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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

Stockton State Hospital


Constructed as the Insane Asylum of California at Stockton in 1853, the complex was situated on 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land donated by Captain Weber. The legislature at the time felt that existing hospitals were incapable of caring for the large numbers of people who suffered from mental and emotional conditions as a result of the Gold Rush, and authorized the creation of the first public mental health hospital in California. The hospital is one of the oldest in the west, and was notable for its progressive forms of treatment. The hospital is #1016 on the Office of Historic Preservation's California Historical Landmark list, and today is home to California State University Stanislaus.

In 1865 the first section of new facilities for the female patients was completed. The entire structure was not completed, however, until 1874. Total cost was $249,500. It was constructed on the east side of North American Street, between East Vine and East Magnolia streets. The story has persisted down through the years that at that time a branch of the Stockton Channel terminated near California and Flora streets and that the bricks for this first section of the building were unloaded onto the asylum grounds from barges.

This three and four-story structure had a capacity of 325 patients. As overcrowding became a problem. chairs and beds were placed in the narrow hallways. Patients were often strapped into these chairs and they sat in semi-darkness. The entire building contained only two chimneys. On each floor marble fireplaces served the visiting rooms, the employee sickroom, and the wards located in both wings of the building. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

Victor Cullen Sanitarium.jpg
The Victor Cullen Center is located in a rural area outside of Sabillasville, in Frederick County. The facility, originally named The Hilltop State Hospital, was built in 1907. It was the first state funded tuberculosis sanatorium in Maryland. It later became a State hospital and in 1965 became a reform school for boys. In 1967 the Cullen Academy was transferred and placed under the direction of Maryland’s Juvenile Services.

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Featured Video

The following is a forty minute video about the closing of Philadelphia 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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