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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

Berkshire Hills Sanitarium


The Berkshire Hills Sanitarium was founded in 1877 by Dr. W. E. Brown and Son in North Adams, Massachusetts. The large, single building facility was founded as a specialized treatment center for cancer.

As a youth, Dr. William E. Brown experienced the removal of a cancerous growth on his palate. It was removed surgically, which proved unsuccessful, and after a second surgery, Brown's entire palate was removed. He studied dentistry, and opened his first clinic in 1854 in North Adams, MA. His son, Wallace E. Brown, joined his practice in 1878 at the age of 12. The practice moved its well known building on North and Veazie Streets. The practice's national advertising campaign resulted in a large increase in business, and a large addition was built onto the sanitarium. The structure was five stories "with sun parlors on every floor plus a six story observation tower, it contained offices, treatment rooms, a pharmacy, two dining rooms (a large one for most patients and a smaller one for those with facial tumors), a laundry, a kitchen with a thirty foot range and forty suites of guest rooms. It had an electric intercom system, electric lights, a passenger elevator and another for freight. It stretched from the corner of Veazie Street most of the way west to Williams Street, and then extended south, parallel to both streets."

After 31 years of establishment, the Berkshire Hills Sanitarium was a successful institute. There were several of its kind in the United States, and methods for cancer treatment were consistent among the facilities. Dr. Wallace E. Brown, of Berkshire Hills, boasted cancer treatment "without resorting to surgical procedure," in reference to the Nichol Escharotic Method. Perry Lewis Nichols, M.D., of the Dr. Nichols Sanatorium, founded a new method for cancer lesion therapy at his facility in Savannah, Missouri, in 1914. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

Penna Hospital 03.jpg
Pennsylvania Hospital was founded, in what is now Southeastern Philadelphia, on May 11, 1751 by founding father Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond, as the first medical hospital in the United States of America. New York Hospital in Manhattan would take the honor of being the second of such hospitals. Pennsylvania Hospital, also known as "Pennsy" locally, continues to treat both somatic medical conditions as well as an array of psychiatric disorders.

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Featured Video

The following eight minute history video on St. John's Hospital was created by LincolnshireTV.

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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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