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Committee Of The Connecticut Asylum For The Education And Instruction Of Deaf And Dumb Persons (1817)

The founders of the Connecticut Asylum—like most educators of the deaf during the antebellum years—saw their primary goal as saving the souls of deaf children. This goal reflected the influence of the Second Great Awakening and, in particular, religious reformers’ hope that social reforms would help to bring about the Millennium. This is an Abridged Text of the Report.Continue Reading »

Eighth Report Of The Directors Of The American Asylum For The Education And Instruction Of The Deaf And Dumb (1824)

“During the first half of the nineteenth century, deaf educators saw their primary goal as ensuring that deaf students learned the Christian gospel. Like educators of blind children and those labeled as idiotic, teachers of deaf children had several other goals, including teaching basic academic skills and providing vocational training. This report also discusses some of the challenges faced by educators of deaf children and their counterparts at schools for blind and idiotic children…”Continue Reading »

Hindrances To The Welfare And Progress Of State Institutions (1883)

Presentation at the Ninth Annual Conference of Charities and Corrections 1883 by Michael Anagnos. “…public institutions for the poor and the perverse, the halt and the criminals, the blind and the deaf, the idiots and the insane, are established by law, and are supported by means raised by general taxation. This policy, admirable and beneficial as it evidently is in most respects, is not free from grave disadvantages and certain dangers…”Continue Reading »

Moral Treatment of the Insane: 1847

That some cases of insanity require medical treatment we believe, but we also believe that a large majority of the patients in Lunatic Asylums do not. There is much analogy between many of the patients found in all such institutions, and the passionate, mischievous, and what are called bad boys in a school, and there is about as much propriety in following the example of Mrs. Squeers, and physicing and medicating the latter as the former, in order to cure them or to change their propensities. Rational hopes for the improvement of either, should we believe, be founded on moral management alone.Continue Reading »

Moral Treatment

Written by Dr. James W. Trent, Jr., Gordon College. “Moral treatment was a product of the Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century. Before then people with psychiatric conditions, referred to as the insane, were usually treated in inhumane and brutal ways.”Continue Reading »

Three Years In A Mad House (1851)

“Astounding Disclosures! Three Years In A Mad House,” by Isaac H. Hunt, 1851. Hunt, a former patient at the Maine Insane Hospital published a scathing attack on his treatment by the institution’s attendants and doctors. Isaac Hunt describes all sorts of abuses and mistreatment. His account makes people wonder whether or not the asylum offered conditions better than those uncovered in local almshouses and jails by the investigative reports of Dorothea Dix. Out of Hunt’s complaints came an investigation by the Maine Legislature into conditions at the asylum.Continue Reading »

Listening to Patients: The Opal as a Source

The Opal, which was “dedicated to usefulness,” is a ten volume Journal that was written and edited by the patients of the Utica State Lunatic Asylum, (1851 – 1860). The more than 3,000 pages of material in The Opal includes political commentary, humor, advice, and theory on insanity in the form of articles, poetry, prose, cartoons, plays, and literature.Continue Reading »

Tewksbury Almshouse Investigation

As can be seen in this excerpt from the Lowell Weekly Sun’s coverage of the Tewksbury investigation, people with disabilities made up a significant proportion of the population of poorhouses. By the 1860s, many states had established institutions to educate deaf, blind, and cognitively disabled children and people deemed temporarily insane. People with other impairments—and especially disabled adults—whose families could not support them had no recourse other than the poorhouse. Moreover, conditions within almshouses often proved disabling or even deadly.Continue Reading »

Poor Relief and the Almshouse

Written by Dr. David Wagner, University of Southern Maine. “Poorhouses (almshouses were simply the same thing with the old English word “alms” for charity used) started out rather small, sometimes in private homes, and at first were scattered in America. But in the 1820s, when America ceased being a completely agricultural society and began to receive more immigration, reformers such as Josiah Quincy in Massachusetts and John Yates in New York led a drive to build almshouses or poorhouses in every town and city. Their purposes were deeply steeped in a desire to not only save money but also to deter the ‘undeserving poor.””Continue Reading »

Over The Hill To The Poor-House (1872)

Poem written by Will Carleton in 1897. Continue Reading »

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