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Welcome to Asylum Projects,
A historic asylum wiki anyone can edit.
2,187 articles and counting
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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

Harrisburg State Hospital

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The establishment of a hospital for the relief of the insane poor of the state claimed the attention of the philanthropic at an early date. The first movement was made by the citizens of Philadelphia, who adopted a memorial which they presented to the Legislature at the session of 1838-39. A bill authorizing the erection of a state lunatic hospital was prepared and passed both houses, but did not receive the sanction of the Governor. Subsequently an act was passed March 4, 1841, authorizing the Governor to appoint three commissioners to select a site and superintend a suitable building for the purpose. The spot selected was on the Schuylkill River, two miles from Gray's Ferry, below Philadelphia. Preparations were made for commencing the erection of the building, when operations were suspended.

The subject was not permitted to rest, but was kept before the public until, in 1844, Miss Dorothea L. Dix, having visited and examined the almshouses and jails throughout the state, presented to the Legislature a memorial setting forth the condition of the insane and urging upon the members the necessity and duty of providing some means for their treatment and proper maintenance. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

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The administration portion was entirely rebuilt upon a new design and made practically fireproof. An amusement hall was added, the general kitchen, a one-story structure, connecting in the rear, and beyond this a two-story structure, the basement containing a refrigerator, bakery and employees' dining room; the second story a sewing room and general store room. This reconstruction was completed and the first woman patient was received January 23.1883

Recent Message Board Posts


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.

Asylum Projects Facebook Page
If you have genealogical question here is an information page to help you.

Upcoming Events Calendar

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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.