Blog Posts - Dr. Harry Hummer



A Favorite Project

Dr. Harry Hummer, superintendent of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, almost continually made and implemented plans to expand the facility. One building that he especially wanted and never received was a separate cottage for epileptics. Though it...

A Look Inside Hummer’s Home

Dr. Harry Hummer, superintendent of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, made sure that he and his family got the choicest rooms in the asylum for their living quarters. His selfishness in the matter of living arrangements contributed to a divisive...

A Home of One’s Own

Many people in today’s workforce complain that it’s difficult to get away from the job–they’re available to their employers through phones and email almost constantly. Superintendents and other staff at insane asylums were als...

No Consequences

Anyone following the inspections and various reports made on the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians might well feel amazed that Dr. Harry Hummer managed to continue as superintendent there. Several inspectors suggested outright that he be dismissed fro...

He Didn’t Even Try

By the end of what might be called the “asylum era,” most superintendents or administrators were buried under mountains of paperwork. Almost all public facilities were overcrowded and understaffed, which meant poor care and  more problem...

Social Interests

Throughout history, social ties have been important. Citizens in small towns certainly kept tabs on their neighbors, but even in large cities, prominent people were reported on in the “society pages.” Many small-town newspapers kept tabs...

Inspection Details

When insane asylums were inspected, nearly anything going on was fair game for examination. During St. Elizabeths’ 1906 investigation, Dr. Harry Hummer, who later became superintendent at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians gave testimony conc...

Building Plans

In 1915, the 47 patients at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians filled the building to capacity. Both the present superintendent, Dr. Harry Hummer, and the previous one, Oscar Gifford, had made requests for additional buildings. The buildings were n...

Other Ills at the Asylum

Though there is no mention of any smallpox epidemics at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, the threat of this terrible disease was very real. Smallpox had devastated Native American communities once Europeans arrived, since native peoples had no i...

Material Improvements

For such a small institution dependent on government funds, the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians had a surprisingly robust building program. Dr. Harry Hummer constantly requested new buildings, upgrades to old ones, new farm acreage (and then new out...

Where Do You Go?

Nearly every patient in an insane asylum wanted out. Asylum superintendents often put up roadblocks to this when they didn’t feel a patient was well enough to go home; there are many accounts of clashes between the asylum’s medical staff...

Gender Inequality

Treatment for mental disorders was generally hit-or-miss in most insane asylums, and many superintendents embarked on experimental procedures simply because there weren’t any reliable ways to help patients. Some treatments were more bizarre tha...

Gender Inequality

Treatment for mental disorders was generally hit-or-miss in most insane asylums, and many superintendents embarked on experimental procedures simply because there weren’t any reliable ways to help patients. Some treatments were more bizarre tha...

Dr. Hummer’s Review

Peter Thompson Good Boy was sent to the Government Hospital for the Insane (St. Elizabeths) even though he lived in South Dakota and should logically have been sent to the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians. (See last two posts for this case study.) Ex...

Dr. Hummer’s Review

Peter Thompson Good Boy was sent to the Government Hospital for the Insane (St. Elizabeths) even though he lived in South Dakota and should logically have been sent to the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians. (See last two posts for … Continue rea...

Another Sad Twist

The argument can certainly be made that very few patients at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians were what might be called “classically insane,” with complete disassociation from reality, a complete change in personality, or a complete i...

Reply in Kind

Until much later, inspections of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians tended to focus on its physical assets rather than the patients (see last two posts). When Inspector Breid made his detailed comments about the state of the asylum’s floors &...

New Year, New Problems

New years may imply fresh starts, but for the superintendent of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, a new year often meant the same old–or brand new–problems to deal with. The asylum was inspected by Supervisor Jacob Breid in January, &...

Importance of Asylum Gardens

Asylum gardens provided occupational therapy of a sort for patients who were physically able to work in them. Some patients truly enjoyed working in a small flower garden perhaps, or even an hour or two in a vegetable garden. However, because some su...

And More Cereal

Cold, flaked cereals were not a part of traditional Native American diets, but many Native Americans on reservations doubtlessly ate them. So did the patients at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians. Both Sylvester Graham and John Harvey Kellogg (see...


Trending Topics

Close