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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

Embreeville State Hospital


On September 29, 1938 the commonwealth took total control of the facility as part of their new state-wide legislation, known as the "Full State Care Act". The legislature (Act #53) assumed responsibility for eight of the thirteen existing county public mental hospitals, the other five hospitals were closed. This same piece of legislation would transform sites like Philadelphia City Farms into Philadelphia State Hospital. It was designated that Embreeville would serve Lancaster and Chester County in Pennsylvania as part of their catchment area. Embreeville was cited by the American Psychiatric Association as one of three "model hospitals" in the country. Dr. Arthur Hecker, the hospital superintendent, upon hearing this honor stated "We're naturally quite proud to be so honored by our peers... but we're even more pleased about a fact that helped make it possible. We have 100 percent turnover of beds each year."

In 1971, a juvenile detention center was place within a few buildings at the hospital site for six years, before finally moving on to better physical accommodations. By 1979, the total statewide state hospital census was reduced to 10,573 patients, and resulted in the closure of several smaller state hospitals. Embreeville was the second state facility in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to close its doors, in 1980, following that of Hollidaysburg State Hospital. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

RocklandSHPC 01.jpg
Construction began in 1927 on a 600-acre rural campus, Rockland State Hospital, as it was then known, initially had 5,768 beds. With a working farm, its own power plant and industrial shops staffed by patients who manufactured everything from mattresses to brooms and furniture, Rockland was then considered among the best-planned psychiatric hospitals in the world. In 1931 the hospital opened to 60 male patients, all transfers from Manhattan State Hospital.

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Featured Video

The following video entitled "Greystones Last Stand - Extended Preview" was created by Antiquity Echoes.

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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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