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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
Elgin State Hospital
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".
The man-made lake was added in 1886. It was 400 by 500 feet in area and was designed to create a tranquil atmosphere for the patients and employees, as well as provide extra water for fire protection. In 1949, the census was 6, 025. In 1955, the average daily census was 7,644, its peak number of patients. Through the years, the hospital was often involved with notable research in medical and behavioral advances and served as a training ground for many physicians and other disciplines as mental health services were coming of age. In the early 1950's, with the advent of major pharmacological treatment alternatives, the move to deinstitutionalize mental health services began and, by 1965, the hospital’s average daily bid census dropped to 5, 103. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
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.
Suffer The Little Children was an expose created in 1968 to expose the conditions at Pennhurst State Hospital. It was originally a five-part television news report anchored by local CBS10 correspondent Bill Baldini.
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.