“On February 28, 1896, by act of the Legislature, the New York City asylums for the insane were transferred to state care, under the name of the Manhattan State Hospitals, with three divisions, namely: Manhattan State Hospital East (male department), Manhattan State Hospital West (female department), on Ward’s Island; and Manhattan State Hospital at Central Islip for both sexes. At that date there were 30 buildings at Central Islip. In 1912, not including a group of four in process of construction, there are 118.”
For some time now, I have heard the same talking points from the New York State Office of Mental Health about how the release of patient names of those who have been dead for over a hundred years may be offensive to some families, especially those “who live in small towns.” This is the dumbest statement I have ever heard considering that close to half of all the inmates who were incarcerated in insane asylums during the nineteenth century were newly arrived immigrants. Hopefully bill S2514-2013 will be become a law soon and will include provisions for a searchable database similar to those at The Hart Island Project. Maybe the Inmates of Willard, and the former patients of all New York State Hospitals and Custodial Institutions will finally be next.
I have created a page for each state hospital and custodial institution cemetery that I know of in the hope that some group: historical societies, former patients, concerned citizens, may be interested in forming their own cemetery restoration, beautification group in order to memorialize and honor the people buried in anonymous, unmarked graves. Of course, we need the names of these people to be released in order to memorialize them properly. There appears to be a group that is trying to memorialize former patients. The Central Islip Cemetery Restoration Project.