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
Elgin State Hospital
On December 28,1869, the Board of Trustees met to examine the nine plans that had been submitted from various architects for the new asylum. The Board had enlisted the aid of two prominent superintendents to act as advisers. One was Dr. Andrew McFarland, M.D., the Superintendent of the state hospital in Jacksonville. The other was Dr. Richard J. Patterson, M.D., former superintendent of state hospitals in Indianapolis, Indiana and Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Interestingly, the building design of the Jacksonville hospital was largely based on that of the Indiana State Hospital, and is an example of the increasingly common practice of copying designs from one hospital for use at another.
The original name of the Elgin Mental Health Facility (its current name) was The Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane. The doors opened in 1872, however, construction of additional buildings continued until 1874. A rumor circulated for year, and still exists that the State of Illinois approached the City of Elgin with plans to construct a mental institution and a college and offered Elgin one or the other. As the rumor goes, Elgin took the mental institution, De Kalb took Northern Illinois University. As Elgin Historian and celebrated Elgin History author, Bill Briska points out the rumor, "...is totally false" He goes on to state that, "The state hospital was founded in 1869 and the college in 1892. (there are) No connection between the events". Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
The constantly increasing number of insane cases in the wards of the poorhouse
soon made manifest the necessity of providing separate and suitable quarters for this class of county charges. Accordingly in 1870 the insane asylum was built. This institution was erected on the county far, a little over a block northeast of the infirmary, on the ground dotted with forest trees and gradually sloping to an artificial lake. L. B. Dixon, of Chicago, was the architect.
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.