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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

Lincoln State Hospital

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This institution is located at Lincoln. As early as 1865, it was found necessary to make provision for the insane in the Territory of Nebraska. Four cases were already being cared for in an Iowa hospital. The legislature authorized the governor to make some arrangement with the State of Iowa, by which they received and cared for the insane at the expense of Nebraska. Under this arrangement fifty patients were sent at various times to the hospital at Mount Pleasant. Soon after Nebraska became a State the governor, secretary of State and auditor of public accounts were appointed a board of commissioners to locate a site for a State lunatic asylum near the city of Lincoln. The first building was completed at a cost of $137,000 in the fall of 1870, and the first patient was admitted November 26th of that year. Early in the following December, seventeen patients were brought over from Mount Pleasant to the new institution, and four were admitted who had been confined in the Pawnee county jail. Dr. N. B. Larsh was the first superintendent.

In April, 1871, the institution was destroyed by fire. Five patients were reported missing and were never afterwards accounted for. The remaining patients were taken to Lincoln and cared for in rented houses until a temporary building was erected on the asylum grounds. As there was no appropriation available, and the citizens of Lincoln were fearful lest the institution should be removed to some rival city, they advanced the funds necessary to build a temporary frame structure, which did service as a hospital until a new stone building was erected the following year. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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The hospital was established under Act No. 210,Public Acts of 1893. It appropriated funds for only 2 cottages & 1 industrial building. The first patients were received November, 1895. Plans for a completed institution were prepared and closely adhered to. They provided for 20 buildings arranged in a quadrangle, 17 designed for care and reception of patients, 1 as an administration building, another as an assembly hall and the other as a kitchen/dining hall.

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Featured Video

The following twenty-seven minute 1980's slide show of Kings Park State Hospital was compiled by S. Weber and the Kings Park Heritage Museum with music from Andrew Fortier.

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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.

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