Dorothea Dix Museum Collection of Asylum Reports

I just recently finished cataloging 178 reports from lunatic asylums, hospitals for the insane, and state hospitals that came to us from as part of the Dorothea Dix Museum Collection from the State Hospital in Harrisburg, Pa.  It really is an amazing set of documentation of the way we treated the mentally ill in instiutional care settings throughout the late 19th century.  A sample of the holdings include the …


“Annual report of the Central Kentucky Lunatic Asylum, Anchorage, Kentucky” for 1878, 1886, 1887


“Annual report of the State Homeopathic Asylum for the Insane at Middletown [New York] for the year ending November 30…” 1877-1879, 1884, 1886, 1888


“Annual report of the District Lunatic Asylum at Clonmel, comprising the North and South Ridings of the County of Tipperary [Ireland], for the year ending …”  1894 and 1898


“Annual report of the Eastern State Hospital of Virginia, for the fiscal year ending …” 1896-1898


“Annual report of the Somerset County [England] Pauper Lunatic Asylum.” 1878


“Report … of the State Lunatic Asylum, Austin, Texas” 1876, 1878-1880, 1886, 1888, 1893, 1896-1897


“Annual report of the Alabama Insane Hospital at Tuskaloosa [sic]” 1878, 1880


“Annual report of the Essex County Asylum for the Insane, Newark, N.J. for the year ending …”  1886-1888


“Annual report of the medical superintendent of the State Asylum for Insane Criminals [Auburn, NY]” 1886-1888


 “Biennial report of the Board of Trustees and Superintendent of the East Mississippi Insane Asylum to the Legislature of Mississippi for the years …” 1894/95, 1896/97


“Biennial report of the trustees and resident officials of the Dakota Hospital for the Insane. [ Yankton, Dakota Territory]” 1888


This is just a taste of what is in the 6 cubic feet of material.  The contents of the reports are actually fairly standardized, including: descriptions of the buildings and grounds (and usually the need for better funding to maintain them); medical reports describing treatment methodologies; summaries of coroner’s reports; statistical summaries of patient populations; and of the costs for food and other supplies.


The collection is especially strong in reports from Pennsylvania, New York, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  The collection also includes two reports (1884 and 1889) from the Bethlem Royal Hospital (London, England), the source of the word “bedlam.”


Search the State Library’s online catalog for call number 361.21 D642 to see a list of all the reports.

Published in: on 28 October 2008 at 9:59 am  Leave a Comment  

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