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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

National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers


The National Soldiers Home Historic District, in Milwaukee, is the birthplace of federal veteran care in America and is a soldiers’ recuperation and living settlement established just after the Civil War. This 90-plus acre district rests on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee between what is now National Avenue and Bluemound Roads, directly west of Miller Park.

The National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, as it was originally named, was established in 1865. The establishment of a system of National Soldiers Homes, including Milwaukee, was one of the last pieces of legislation signed by President Lincoln before his assassination. In his second inaugural address, President Lincoln had asked the nation “to care for him who shall have borne the battle.” These words and the persistence of many citizens including women from Milwaukee’s Soldiers Aid societies, mark the beginning of the mission of the present-day Department of Veterans Affairs.

It was the ladies of Milwaukee’s West Side Soldiers Aid Society—already operating a hospital on Plankinton Avenue in Milwaukee—who led, and paid a big portion of the way toward Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home. Inspired by President Lincoln’s charge, the ladies organized a 10-day fair in June 1865 to raise money for a permanent Wisconsin Soldiers Home. They raised more than $100,000 and were persuaded to turn their assets over to the federal government. The women stipulated that the Milwaukee property would not have exclusions and, specifically, would admit federal veterans from all conflicts to a home that would be used solely for the care of soldiers. In May 1867, the first 36 soldiers moved into what came to be known as the “Old Soldiers Home.” Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

USNaval Asylum 04.jpg
The Naval Asylum stands on the site of "The Plantation," one of the country residences of the prominent Philadelphia Pemberton family. The property was purchased by William Pemberton from John Kinsey, who in turn purchased it from Thomas Masters, who purchased it from the Penns. It was under the protection of the British forces while they occupied Philadelphia during the Revolution, and following the Revolution it passed to Thomas Abbot.

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Featured Video

The following eight minute history video on St. John's Hospital was created by LincolnshireTV.

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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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