Blog Posts - St. Elizabeths Hospital



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...

A Case of Insanity

Alienists had many interesting theories about insanity and what caused it, and frequently had to explain their views to the public. Court cases involving an insanity defense could create heated debate on the topic, and an article in the October, 1866...

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...

Inspection Results

The two federal institutions for the insane (St. Elizabeths and the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians) were investigated several times. In 1926, the comptroller general of the United States listed his findings concerning the investigation into St. Eli...

Asylum Comparisons

St. Elizabeths and the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians were investigated a number of times during the early twentieth century. Both were federal insane asylums, but they were also quite different. St. Elizabeths was very much a medical facility, whi...

A Cost Analysis

Interested parties (mainly in South Dakota) wanted an asylum established exclusively for insane Indians, and tried to make a case for it. They met with a complete lack of support from the superintendent (William W. Godding) of the only other federal...

Canton Asylum Given Much Thought

Though the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians had many problems throughout its operation, the facility itself had been the subject of much consideration before its construction. When Senator Richard F. Pettigrew, Chairman of of the Committee on Indian...

Grimes Was Not Impressed

When Dr. John Maurice Grimes inspected mental institutions in the U.S. (see last two posts), he discovered that the federal asylum in Washington, DC, (St. Elizabeths) was overcrowded. It had a rated capacity of 3,700 patients and an actual patient po...

Grimes Was Not Impressed

When Dr. John Maurice Grimes inspected mental institutions in the U.S. (see last two posts), he discovered that the federal asylum in Washington, DC, (St. Elizabeths) was overcrowded. It had a rated capacity of 3,700 patients and an actual patient po...

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...

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...

More Odd Decisions

After being accused of horse theft, Peter Thompson Good Boy met an Insanity Commission in South Dakota and was adjudged insane. Oddly, he was sent to the government hospital in Washington, DC instead of the much closer Canton Asylum in SD. (See last...

More Odd Decisions

After being accused of horse theft, Peter Thompson Good Boy met an Insanity Commission in South Dakota and was adjudged insane. Oddly, he was sent to the government hospital in Washington, DC instead of the much closer Canton Asylum in … Contin...

Beyond Reason

Many patients at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians did not receive a formal hearing or doctor’s examination before being sent to the asylum. Authorities at least went through the motions with Peter Thompson Good Boy. He was accused of …...

Searching for Canton Asylum Patients

This is an out-of-schedule post to ask for information about Canton Asylum patients transferred to St. Elizabeths in 1933, for a projected memorial. If you have any information about them, particularly about their lives before they were in Canton Asy...

Searching

This is an out-of-schedule post to ask for information about Canton Asylum patients transferred to St. Elizabeths in 1933, for a projected memorial. If you have any information about them, particularly about their lives before they were in Canton Asy...

How to Help

Dr. Harry Hummer, superintendent of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, was not inclined to an active, hands-on approach to helping his patients overcome mental illness. In addition to his own weakness in this area, he may have found it nearly impo...

Keeping Up

Like most people, Dr. Harry Hummer, superintendent of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, had a number of contradictory traits. Though he was accused of poor record-keeping on his patients and of a failure to institute any kind of mental health pla...


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