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Welcome to Asylum Projects,
A historic asylum wiki anyone can edit.
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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

Buffalo State Hospital


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The Henry Hobson Richardson Complex, or the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, as it was originally called, started construction in 1870 and was completed almost 20 years later. It was a state-of-the-art facility when it was built, incorporating the most modern ideas in psychiatric treatment. The design of the buildings as well as the restorative grounds, designed by famed landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, were intended to complement the innovations in psychiatric care practiced at this facility.

At the time Richardson was commissioned to design the complex he was still relatively unknown, but he was later to become the first American architect to achieve international fame. The complex was ultimately the largest building of his career and the first to display his characteristic style - what came to be known as Richardsonian Romanesque – and is internationally regarded as one of the best examples of its kind. Among many others, his genius also yielded the New York State Capital, the Albany City Hall, Trinity Church in Boston, and the Glessner House in Chicago.

The complex and grounds were originally built on 203 acres of largely undeveloped farmland. The V-shaped design consisted of the central tower building with five buildings flanking on each side, connected by curved corridors, branching out in a “flock of geese” formation. This design was representative of what was then known as the Kirkbride system, named after the physician who developed it. As a stage of development in the classification and treatment of mental illnesses, Kirkbride’s system was designed with a central administration building flanked by patient wards in a V-formation. This enabled patients to be gathered according to the type and level of their illness. Rooms were arranged along both sides of the corridor and the buildings were designed for maximum light, ventilation, and privacy, and a home like atmosphere Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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Constructed at a cost of $1.5 million, with the estimated yearly per capita cost of patients being $3,000 the hospital originally consisted of two main center buildings, housing the administration, with four radiating wings. The outer wings (A and J) housed the dangerous patients. The administration building measured 90 by 60 feet, with a tower 130 feet tall.

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Featured Video

The following is a forty minute video documenting the history of Camarillo State Hospital that had been created by the California Department of Developmental Services and was uploaded to youtube by PublicResources.org

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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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