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Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American Asylums and Hospitals

Postcards, Public Perception, and Purpose

by Alma Wynelle Deese, Cathy Faye

Pages: 144; Size: 8.5" x 11"
Series: Center for the History of Psychology Series

ISBN: 978-1-937378-73-8

Price: $29.95

The process of American psychiatric care started with the development of lunatic asylums during the early nineteenth century. There were 122 state supported lunatic asylums opened in the United States before 1900. Most histories of early asylums have been lost except for the significant or unusual ones. Tracing the history of these early institutions, which emphasized care for the common patient, will allow current researchers to understand the actions and attitudes that previously doomed such programs, saving time and money.

This book reveals through old postcards how the early asylums appeared to the public, how they were advertised, what activities and buildings were created for specific purposes in the process of caring for the insane of society, and how patients were transported to the facilities. In order to give a broader sense of place, images of the asylum's entrances or gates, the grounds, inside views, and staff housing of these facilities are detailed.

The book is divided into five sections. Section one covers, in sequential order, the first sixteen state supported lunatic asylums. Section two gives an overview of the 29 different asylums in sequence of their openings from 1854 to 1902. Sixty-five categorized postcards make up section three. Section four is small collection of postcards that make fun of the asylums. The final section summarizes the practices and trends that were revealed throughout the book about the early asylums.

About the authors

Alma Wynelle Deese

Alma Wynelle Deese graduated from Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, and the University of Mississippi Graduate School. She worked as a psychologist at several institutions, including Eastern State Hospital, for thirty-four years.  Retired, she now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Cathy Faye

Cathy Faye is the assistant director of the Center for the History of Psychology at The University of Akron.

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