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Both the Greystone and Athens Kirkbride buildings are in danger of being partially or completely demolished.
Please click on the link above for more information and to see how you can help.

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

Harrisburg State Hospital

HSH Kirkbride Color 1855.jpg

The establishment of a hospital for the relief of the insane poor of the state claimed the attention of the philanthropic at an early date. The first movement was made by the citizens of Philadelphia, who adopted a memorial which they presented to the Legislature at the session of 1838-39. A bill authorizing the erection of a state lunatic hospital was prepared and passed both houses, but did not receive the sanction of the Governor. Subsequently an act was passed March 4, 1841, authorizing the Governor to appoint three commissioners to select a site and superintend a suitable building for the purpose. The spot selected was on the Schuylkill River, two miles from Gray's Ferry, below Philadelphia. Preparations were made for commencing the erection of the building, when operations were suspended.

The subject was not permitted to rest, but was kept before the public until, in 1844, Miss Dorothea L. Dix, having visited and examined the almshouses and jails throughout the state, presented to the Legislature a memorial setting forth the condition of the insane and urging upon the members the necessity and duty of providing some means for their treatment and proper maintenance.

Acting in accordance with these suggestions, the Legislature in the spring of 1845 appointed five commissioners as follows: Jacob M.Haldeman (who served until 1848 and then withdrew), Luther Reily, Hugh Campbell, Charles B. Trego and Joseph Konigmacher, to select and purchase a tract of land for a hospital site, of not less than 100 acres, situated within ten miles of Harrisburg, and not to cost more than $10,000; to contract for the building and furnishing of a hospital that should be plain and substantial, with all modern improvements, to accommodate 250 patients; for which building the sum of $50,000 was appropriated. The hospital was to be called the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital and Union Asylum for the Insane. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

Also once known as the Worcester Lunatic Asylum and the Bloomingdale Asylum, this psychiatric facility's history dates back to before the main building was built. On January 12, 1833, the old Worcester Insane Asylum opened, and was the first of its kind constructed in the state of Massachusetts. When overcrowding became a problem, a new hospital was to be built - a massive structure laid out in the Kirkbride plan, which is the one featured in these photographs.

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Featured Video

The following is a video history of Binghamton State Hospital created by

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Asylum News   (news you can edit!)


BERLIN, VERMONT – The nearly complete $38 million Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital is a state-of-the-art mental health facility that feels all but institutional.

January 27, 2014 A kinder approach: Former Allentown State Hospital CEO is recognized for reducing restraint tactics

The former CEO walks on the roof of the Allentown State Hospital. He is armed with his high-definition camera and decades of memories to provide context to what he sees. Each step on the roof frames a new perspective of the hospital he helped to transform. The rooms in the former psychiatric center are empty. It has been three years since the hospital closed. For Greg Smith, it is easy to reminisce. He can fill in the blanks, but there aren't many signs of what used to happen at the 100-year-old campus.

January 27, 2014 Taunton State Hospital again faces closure

The state's plan to close the inpatient unit at Taunton State Hospital reflects a philosophical shift that emphasizes community-based services over institutional care, a mental health official said Friday. For the third straight year, the state is proposing to move all inpatient beds from Taunton State Hospital to the new Worcester Recovery Center. In each of the past two years, the state faced staunch local opposition. As a compromise struck in the Legislature, 45 beds currently remain at Taunton State, which used to have about 170.

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