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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

St Elizabeths Hospital


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In November of 1852 a tract of land overlooking the Anacostia River was purchased for $25,000 from Thomas Blagden. Construction began almost immediately on the center building, a red brick fortress designed in Gothic revival style by Thomas U. Walter, who also designed the dome of the Capital Building. The hospital was built following the Kirkbride Plan, most of the construction of the center building was done by slaves. It opened in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane. The Hospital's early mission, as defined by its founder, the leading mental health reformer Dorothea Dix, was to provide the "most humane care and enlightened curative treatment of the insane of the Army, Navy, and District of Columbia." During the Civil War, wounded soldiers treated here were reluctant to admit that they were in an insane asylum, and said they were at St. Elizabeth's, the colonial name of the land where the Hospital is located. Congress officially changed the Hospital's name to St. Elizabeth's in 1916. By the 1940s, the Hospital complex covering an area of over 300 acres. At its peak, 4,000 people worked and 7,000 patients lived there. It was the first and only federal mental facility with a national scope. The first appropriation towards building the Government Hospital for the Insane was of $100,000, and was made by Congress in 1852 for the purchase of land. The organic act creating the institution and outlining the duties of its officers and providing for the admission of various classes of insane patients was not approved until March 3, 1855. The hospital, however, had been opened for the reception of patients on January 15,1855. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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The Freedmen’s Hospital was founded in 1862 in Washington, DC. It was the first hospital of its kind to aid in the medical treatment of former slaves. Later it became the major hospital for the African American community in Washington, D.C. The hospital was founded on the grounds of Camp Barker at 13th and R Streets in Northwest Washington. It remained in that location until a new building was completed in 1909 at Bryant and 6th Street. Through much of its history the hospital was managed by the U.S. government.

Featured Video

"A Wind Is Rising: Michigan Home for the Retarded" was a nineteen minute video filmed by local Flint Michigan station WJRT in 1962 and was a winner of a Peabody Award. The film discuses the institution, what it did, and its need for more resources.

Recent Message Board Posts

Hello,

In this space you normally would see our forum. This had been a hold over from earlier days before we had a Facebook page. Just prior to our server issues regular users had been barely using the forum with the majority of new posts from anonymous users asking genealogy questions or spammers. The old forum software does not work with our new version while the new forum software does not carry over old comments to the new forum. As a result, the forum will be discontinued in favor of our Facebook page. If you have questions or comments you can ask them there.

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If you have genealogical question here is an information page to help you.