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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
Trenton State Hospital
The following is from a 1916 treatise entitled The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada. The necessity of erecting an asylum for the care and treatment of the insane was advocated by Dr. Lyndon A. Smith, of Newark, in an address read before the Medical Society of New Jersey in 1837, on the occasion of his taking the chair as president of the society. This was the first appeal for the state to assume its duty to this class of unfortunates. The interest of the medical men being aroused by this address, they made their influence felt in the various communities, which resulted in an appeal being made to the Legislature in 1839. A joint resolution was accordingly passed by the Legislature authorizing the Governor to appoint commissioners to ascertain as accurately as practicable the number, age, sex and condition of lunatics in the state; and if, on such investigation being made, a lunatic asylum should be thought the best remedy for their relief, then to ascertain the necessary cost of the establishment of such an institution, the locality for the same, etc. An appropriation of $500 was made to defray the expenses of the investigation. Governor Pennington appointed as commissioners Doctors Lyndon A. Smith, of Newark; Lewis Condict, of Norristown; A. F. Taylor, of New Brunswick; C. G. McChesney, of Trenton, and L. Q. C. Elmer, Esq., of Cumberland County. The fact that four out of five of the commissioners were medical men, one of whom was Dr. Lyndon A. Smith, who first advocated this public measure when president of the State Medical Society, indicates clearly that the Governor was strongly impressed with the idea that the medical men were the most earnest advocates of the movement.
The commissioners met at the office of Dr. Smith in Newark, and Dr. Condict was appointed chairman. They apportioned among themselves different duties and different portions of the state for investigation. They visited the various counties of the state and made careful personal investigation of all cases of insane persons and the manner in which they were cared for by their friends or in the county institutions. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
In just four years after Greystone opened
, it was already accommodating around 800 patients in a facility designed for 600. By 1887, the exercise rooms and attic space were converted to dormitories to create extra rooms for the influx of new patients. In an attempt to relieve the further overcrowding, the Dormitory Building was built behind the Main Building in 1901. It, however, wasn't enough to ameliorate the problem and thus in the same year the dining rooms on each floor had to be converted into dormitories as well. 13 years later, in 1914, the facility housed 2,412 patients, but now had an absolute maximum capacity of 1,600.
The following is a forty minute video documenting the history of Camarillo State Hospital that had been created by the California Department of Developmental Services and was uploaded to youtube by PublicResources.org
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.