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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

Agnews State Hospital


Today known as the world famous Sun Microsystems/Agnews Developmental Center, the campus-like setting of the former Agnews Insane Asylum consists of a grouping of numerous reinforced concrete, brick, stucco and tile buildings. They are constructed in large rectangular-shaped plans and designed in a Mediterranean Revival style. The buildings are formally placed within a landscaped garden of palms, pepper trees and vast lawns. The treatment of the insane in California dates from the earliest days of the Gold Rush. The first provisions for the insane were to lock them up with criminals in the ship Ephemia, purchased in 1849 by the City of San Francisco, and later to house them at the San Francisco marine hospital in 1850, used primarily for ailing seamen. In 1885 the Agnews Residential Facility was established by the California State Legislature as a neuropsychiatric institution for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Agnews, opened in 1889, was the third institution in the state established for the mentally ill. Twenty-one years later, the greatest tragedy of the 1906 earthquake in Santa Clara County took place at the old Agnews State Hospital. The multistory, unreinforced masonry building crumbled, killing over 100 patients.

The Institution was then redesigned in, what was then, a revolutionary cottage plan spreading the low-rise buildings along tree-lined streets in a manner that resembled a college campus. The Mediterranean Revival style buildings were constructed of concrete with tile roofs, decorative tile patterns, rustic wooden balconies, porch columns and banisters. Bands of decorative tile patterns reflect the Hispanic influence on the buildings. Now at the center of the Sun Microsystems/Agnews complex is the Clock Tower Building (formerly the Treatment Building) with its massive symmetrical clock tower. The auditorium is an outstanding building, which seems as beautiful today as it was in 1913. Agnews State Hospital was significant as the first modern mental hospital in California, and subsequently other State facilities, followed the example of Agnews. It embodied the distinctive characteristics of a progressive mental hospital in the early 20th century as it was intended to be a "cheerful" place with its decentralized specialized buildings for different treatment purposes and different types of patients. Its small, low-scale buildings were designed to bring light and air to patients. 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.

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Featured Video

The following documentary was shot over the course of twelve months within Bellevue. It gives an unprecedented access to the emergency department and numerous cases which come through it.

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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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