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Welcome to Asylum Projects,
A historic asylum wiki anyone can edit.
2,089 articles and counting
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Click here to see current and past preservation alerts and how you can help.

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

Connecticut State Hospital

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Mrs. Catherine Winslow, the first woman employed at the Maine Insane Hospital, was appointed matron when the asylum opened in 1840. The asylum was the product of a collaborative effort between the state and two private citizens, Reuel Williams of Augusta (married to Sarah Cony) and Benjamin Brown of Vassalborough. While early mental health institutions may fall far short of present-day standards for treatment for mental illness, the establishment of such places in the early nineteenth century was based, in part, on reforming care for the mentally ill.

Prior to mental health hospitals, the mentally ill were the responsibility of their families, and if their families could not cope, they were either put in poor houses, put out on the streets, or locked away in jail. Mental health reformer Dorothea Dix (1802-1887), a native of Hampden, Maine, worked closely with the second superintendent of the Augusta asylum, Issac Ray (appointed in 1841). The building was state-of-the-art when constructed. All parts had ventilation, lighting, heating, and water. Men and women had separate wings.

Over its 162 years of service, the hospital has carried a number of names and today it is called the Augusta Mental Health Institute. Many buildings on the campus now serve as state offices. A new hospital,Riverview Psychiatric Center, was opened in 2004 to replace the facility. Click here for more...

Featured Image Of The Week

Thirteen buildings were erected for patients during the next eight years and in 1913 with a population of 998, an administration building, three cottages for physicians, a carpenter and maintenance shop, a main kitchen, garage, laboratory, staff house, and an employees’ club house had been erected and the inebriate farm and the Colony had been established.

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.

Featured Video

The following fifteen minute video documentary, created by SBS Dateline, is about New York City's Hart island, the history of the structures on it, and its massive potters field where over 700,000 people have been buried since 1868. It also features a few women who have worked to visit their still born children buried on the island. How these women and others have been working to get the island more accessible to those who want to visit the grave site.

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.