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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
Kew Lunatic Asylum
The Kew Asylum was first opened in 1871 as a ward of Yarra Bend. For a short period Kew was also known as the "Metropolitan Asylum". Many of Kew's early patients were transferred from Yarra Bend and the Collingwood Asylum. In October 1872 Kew was proclaimed a separate institution from Yarra Bend.
After World War II there was a period of significant change in the treatment and prognosis for people with a mental illness. Drugs such as Lithium carbonate (discovered in 1948 by Australian psychiatrist Dr John Cade) and chlorpromazine (discovered in 1950's) lead to improvements in treatment. Thus many people with a mental illness could in many cases be treated in hospital for a shorter period and return to the community. The Mental Health Act of 1959 designated hospitals providing short-term diagnosis and accommodation as "psychiatric hospitals". Therefore any institution could have a section designated as a mental hospital for long-term or indefinite hospitalisation and a section designated as a psychiatric hospital for short term diagnosis and treatment of acute psychiatric illness.
In 1962 the decision was made to no longer house acute or short-term patients at Kew and therefore it was formally proclaimed a Mental Hospital under the Mental Health Act of 1959. Up until this time, Kew Mental Hospital was still colloquially known as 'Kew Asylum'. Click here for more...
Featured Image Of The Week
was the first permanent institution established in Victoria that was devoted to the treatment of the mentally ill. It opened in 1848 as a ward of the Asylum at Tarban Creek in New South Wales. It was not officially called Yarra Bend Asylum until July 1851 when the Port Phillip District separated from the Colony of New South Wales. Prior to the establishment of Yarra Bend, lunatic patients had been kept in the District's goals. New admissions ceased in 1924 with the Asylum officially closing in 1925. All remaining patients were transferred to the Mont Park facilities.
The following nearly sixty minute 1983 Academy Award nominated documentary video entitled "Children of Darkness" was filmed mostly inside South Beach Psychiatric Center. The film focuses on the children living in the facility and how they were treated.
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.
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If you have genealogical question here is an information page to help you.