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Welcome to Asylum Projects,
A historic asylum wiki anyone can edit.
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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

Maine School for Feeble Minded


From 1907 when the Maine Legislature decided to establish a school for "idiotic and feeble-minded" children until 1996 when that institution closed its doors, doctors, social workers, parents, legislators and community advocates discussed and debated the nature of the problem of developmental disabilities in children and adults and the best way for the state to care for those individuals. The enabling legislation passed in 1907 specified that the residents of the new facility would be between ages 3 and 21. When the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded opened, the "patients" lived at Hill Farm on the New Gloucester property. As the population of the facility grew rapidly, so did the building of large dormitories. Gray and Staples halls were the first dorms. Planners had thought residents would live in small units, but that was not practical due to the ever-growing number of residents.

The population grew rapidly for several reasons. First, some medical personnel and caregivers had a goal of sending all developmentally disabled persons to institutions. Also, judges sometimes send people to the facility because they were poor or orphans with no one to care for them. In one well-known case, the state removed residents of Malaga Island off Phippsburg from the island in 1912. Many of the residents were mixed race and some, when removed from the island, were sent to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded. Graves in the cemetery at Malaga were dug up and reinterred at the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded cemetery.

At times the residents of the institution were largely forgotten by most people in Maine. At other times, they and the facility were closely scrutinized. The history of Pineland offers insights into Maine's treatment of persons with disabilities and a window into national movements and beliefs about such care over nearly a century. Further, the institution never kept to the original legislation specifying that it would serve those ages 3-21. Older persons were residents and few people left at any age, at least legally. Over the years, many residents escaped from the facility, some permanently. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

At its peak in the 1950s, Bartonville housed 2,800 patients. The hospital remained in operation until 1972. After its closing, the buildings remained unused and were auctioned off to anyone who would demolish them. Due to the bankruptcy of the intended buyer, however, the buildings are now the property of Winsley Durand, Jr., who has converted most of the structures into office space.

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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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