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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
The Dexter Asylum served as an institution for the care of the poor, aged and mentally ill of Providence from 1828 to 1957. The Asylum began through a bequest in the will of Ebenezer Knight Dexter (1773-1824), a wealthy citizen who had served on a town committee for poor relief. Dexter's gift to the town, though much needed at the time, later was seen as an anachronism--a walled and isolated "poor farm" in the midst of Providence's residential east side. Beginning in the 1920's, city officials, developers and assorted heirs made several attempts to change the conditions of the will, and in 1957, they finally succeeded. The Dexter Asylum property was sold to Brown University.
Ebenezer Dexter's will of 1824 left a property known as Neck Farm to Providence to be used for "the accommodation and support of the poor of said town... and for no other use or purpose whatever." The bulk of his estate was left to the city (then town) for the construction and upkeep of the asylum and the care of the poor. Dexter's will further called for the town to erect a stone wall around the property, forbade the town to sell Neck Farm, and specified that a town meeting of no less than "forty freemen" should be required for any action concerning the property.
Before Dexter's bequest, Providence had no institution for the care of the poor. Those unable to support themselves due to age or illness were cared for at town expense in private homes by caretakers who bid for the job. A committee formed soon after Dexter's death to oversee the donation, and town meetings from 1824 until the original building's completion in 1828 discussed the construction, operation and rules of the asylum. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
Eighteen frame buildings were constructed in 1870
, and that November 118 mental patients were admitted - 65 charity cases from Butler Asylum, 25 from town poor houses, and 28 from asylums in Vermont and Massachusetts where the state had sent them. The patients at the State Asylum were poor and believed beyond help, as is reflected in the evolution of names for the asylum. Initially, it was to be called the State Insane Asylum; in 1869 the Asylum for the Pauper Insane; and in 1870 the State Asylum for the Incurable Insane.
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
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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.
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If you have genealogical question here is an information page to help you.