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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
Tacoma State Hospital
In accordance with an act of the Territorial Legislature, entitled "An Act to Authorize the Purchase of the Government Buildings at Fort Steilacoom for an Insane Asylum," approved December 2. 1869, a Board of Commissioners, consisting of the Governor, Territorial Secretary and Territorial Auditor, purchased the buildings from the federal government on the 15th of January, 1870, for the sum of $850. Section 4 of this act provided that the buildings should be turned over to the commissioners for the care and custody of insane and idiotic persons, to be prepared and used by them as an insane asylum, at the expiration of the contract with Huntington & Sons on July 15, 1871.
In the meantime a contract was made by the territorial authorities with Hill Harmon, of Olympia, to clothe and to keep the insane for a period of five years, dating from August 19, 1871, at 91 cents per diem. After the necessary alterations of the buildings to adapt them to the purpose intended had been made 21 patients were transferred from Monticello on August 19, 1871, and Fort Steilacoom was formally opened as an insane asylum. Dr. Stacy Hemenway was appointed by the commissioners as resident physician.
From a report of the contractor to the Governor of Washington Territory, dated September 30, 1871, it was learned that the asylum building was 152 feet long and 54 feet wide, and was divided into two wards, one for males and one for females. The male ward was 96 feet long and 44 feet wide, containing a central hall and 20 rooms, 10 on each side. Under the same roof was a bathroom supplied with hot and cold water, a water closet and wardrobe. The central hall was 96 feet long and 14 feet wide, having one large window at each end and two skylights. On each side of this hall were 10 rooms, each 18 feet in length by 9 feet in width. These rooms, together with the central hall, accommodated about 40 patients. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
The first buildings were erected
in 1890 and consisted of a central administration building, with a wing on each side and a rear wing for the kitchen, engine room and laundry. The entire plant was made of brick, with a granite foundation, lathed and plastered inside. Each wing was three stories high and accommodated 150 patients.
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.