From Asylum Projects
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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
Dixmont State Hospital
The Western Pennsylvania Hospital was founded in Pittsburgh in 1848 as a general hospital that treated all types of illnesses and became the first institution in western Pennsylvania to offer treatment for the insane. When the Insane Department of the Western Pennsylvania Hospital was moved to a new building in Kilbuck Township outside of Pittsburgh in 1862 it was renamed the Western Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane at Dixmont to honor the memory of Dorothea Dix, an advocate for reforming the treatment of mental patients. The Dixmont Hospital was legally separated from the Western Pennsylvania Hospital in 1907 when it was individually incorporated as the Dixmont Hospital for the Insane. Supported by private contributions since 1852, it was primarily state appropriations that enabled the hospital to expand its facilities and care for an increasing number of mentally ill persons over the first nine decades of its existence. Despite receiving state appropriations, it nonetheless continued to operate as a private corporation until 1945 when it was taken over by the Department of Public Welfare. From that date, it operated under the name Dixmont State Hospital until it closed in July 1984.
The Western Pennsylvania Hospital was one of the earlier asylums built on the Kirkbride plan, with three crooked wings stretching to each side of administration; one wing for male and the other for female patients. By the end of the 1800's, the resident population grew to over 1,200 and a nursing school was established in 1895. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
The planning for a state hospital
for the mentally ill in Alabama began in 1852. The new facility was planned from the start to utilize the "moral architecture" concepts of 1850's activists Thomas Kirkbride and Dorothea Dix. Architect Samuel Sloan designed the imposing Italianate building after Kirkbride's model plan. The construction was an important source of employment in Reconstruction-era Tuscaloosa. The facility was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977..
The following twenty minute 1936 video entitled "On The Front Lines" was about the major scourge of the time, tuberculosis, and features Waverly Hills Sanitarium for most of its hospital scenes.
Upcoming Events Calendar
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.