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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

Lawrence Frick State Hospital

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From the State Web Page: The State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Cresson, which is located on Old Route 22, approximately one mile east of the town of Cresson in Cambria County, has a rich history of service to the health and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Beginning with the donation of the land by steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and prescribed by the Act of Assembly in June 1910, the Cresson Tuberculosis Sanatorium was opened in 1916. The location was considered as ideal due to the abundance of fresh air and the treatments used to combat the disease. The present administration building was built in the European style with gargoyles on the tower and the crests of Scottish clans cut into the sandstone as a reminder of Mr. Carnegie’s heritage.

With the introduction of new drugs and treatments for tuberculosis, the need for sanatoriums declined. In December of 1956 the facility was incorporated into the Lawrence F. Flick State Hospital being run by the Department of Public Welfare to treat the mentally retarded. The facility remained in operation until December 1982.

In 1983 the facility was converted into a state correctional institution under the Bureau of Corrections. Under Executive Order 1983-1, Governor Dick Thornburgh directed that the Bureau of Correction convert the facility to a state correctional institution. Total allocation for design and renovation was $20.6 million. First Lady Ginny Thornburgh, as an advocate of the mentally retarded, requested that the cemetery used by the facility since its inception be maintained as a memorial by the institution. Today the maintenance department and the inmates of SCI Cresson carry on this work. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

Arkansas State Hospital 1910.jpg
The Arkansas Lunatic Asylum was created by legislative act in 1873. In 1905, the name was changed to Arkansas State Hospital for Nervous Diseases; it was changed to Arkansas State Hospital in 1933. A facility known as the State Hospital still exists today, but what was historically encompassed by the “State Hospital” is now part of the Division of Behavioral Health Services of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, though many people still refer to it as the State Hospital

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Featured Video

The following fifteen minute video was created by Inside Story and Andrea Hall on the closing of Danvers State Hospital.

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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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