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The mission of this site is to archive both historical and current information on asylums across the United States and around the world.
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
Chicago State Hospital
The constantly increasing number of insane cases in the wards of the poorhouse soon made manifest the necessity of providing separate and suitable quarters for this class of county charges. Accordingly in 1870 the insane asylum was built. This institution was erected on the county far, a little over a block northeast of the infirmary, on the ground dotted with forest trees and gradually sloping to an artificial lake. L. B. Dixon, of Chicago, was the architect.
The asylum building had a frontage to the east of 272 feet and was divided by a center building, in which the offices were situated; the two wings were divided into wards. Each ward was 116 feet long from north to south. The central building had a frontage of 50 feet. At each extreme end of wings was a projection 20 feet to the rear for bathroom, water closets and stairs to the yards. The building was of brick, with cut stone trimmings, and was three stories high above the basement. Each wing had a center corridor 13 feet wide, with three windows on each end. The patients' rooms were on each side of the corridors. Especial pains were taken to secure a thoroughly efficient system of warming and ventilation. The heating was by high pressure steam, and ventilation was forced by two double-bladed iron fans, eight feet in diameter. The water closets were at the end of each ward. The bathrooms were adjoining at the end of each wing. There was a soiled clothes drop from each bathroom to a room in the basement. There were two bathtubs and three water closets on each floor. Each wing had a dining-room on each floor with attendants' each room adjoining. A dumb waiter extended to the basement from each dining-room. There was a linen room for each story of each wing near the attendants room. At the end of each wing there was a separate stairway with separate exits into yards for inmates. Click here for more...
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The original name of the Elgin Mental Health Facility
(its current name) was The Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane. The doors opened in 1872, however, construction of additional buildings continued until 1874. A rumor circulated for year, and still exists that the State of Illinois approached the City of Elgin with plans to construct a mental institution and a college and offered Elgin one or the other. As the rumor goes, Elgin took the mental institution, De Kalb took Northern Illinois University. As Elgin Historian and celebrated Elgin History author, Bill Briska points out the rumor, "...is totally false" He goes on to state that, "The state hospital was founded in 1869 and the college in 1892. (there are ) No connection between the events".
Recent Message Board Posts
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.