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Welcome to Asylum Projects,
A historic asylum wiki anyone can edit.
2,086 articles and counting
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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

Spencer State Hospital


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In 1885, the state legislature began hearings on the need for a Second Hospital for the Insane. The first hospital for the insane was built at Weston in 1859. Because of overcrowded conditions, it was determined that a second facility was needed. They appointed a commission to choose several sites and present their findings at the next session in 1887. John G Schilling, a Spencer attorney, was among the members of the commission.

One of the factors that would determine the final selection of a site was the willingness of the county government to purchase the necessary land and donate it to the state free of charge. Roane County was enthusiastic with the prospect of obtaining the hospital. The Roane County Court immediately issued an order stating that they would indeed be willing to meet this requirement.

The decision on the hospital's location was not made until the legislative session of 1887. Spencer was eventually chosen as the site of the new hospital. The legislature approved an appropriation of $10,000 to begin construction. The county was now required to provide the land for the facility. On February 10, 1888, the county court purchased 184 acres of land from William R. Goff for the sum of $9,200. Goff, after receiving this large sum of money began looking for a safe repository for his money. Goff and several other citizens joined together to form the Bank of Spencer. It opened for business in March 1891. The county's first bank was designated to handle the funds for the construction of the new hospital. It also later handled the state hospital's regular transactions. The building was 1/4 mile in length. It was sometimes referred to as the longest continuous brick building in America. Bricks for the hospital's Gothic structure were made on the grounds. Native Roane County stone hand cut by Henry Waldeck and Lee Kelley was used for facings and adornments. The slate roof was adorned with cupolas which were typical of the period. The administration building stood four stories high and was topped with two round towers. On each side of the administration building were the two three-story wards, one for men and one for women. The building was completed in 1893 at a total cost of $93,393. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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In the first years of its history the institution was encompassed with many difficulties. Not only were there financial troubles, but Confederate soldiers in a raid appropriated the blankets belonging to the patients, and in a second raid a ward was destroyed. The people of Weston very generously came to the rescue and contributed their own blankets to fill the temporary needs, public acknowledgment of which was made by the superintendent in his report. In 1868 the population of the hospital was 40; since that date there has been a continual increase in the number of inmates, and a corresponding increase in the appropriation for running expenses, until at the present time the population of the institution is 1023.

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.

Asylum Projects Facebook Page
If you have genealogical question here is an information page to help you.

Featured Video

The following documentary was shot over the course of twelve months within Bellevue. It gives an unprecedented access to the emergency department and numerous cases which come through it.

Upcoming Events Calendar

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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.