2014 Glass Photo Negatives Discovered in Binghamton’s Historic Asylum

TREASURES OF THE TIER by Roger Luther is a column about Historic Locations in New York’s Southern Tier. Roger has also created nysAsylum a website that has countless photographs and historical information on Binghamton, Buffalo, Utica, and Willard State Hospitals.

Camera-Roger Luther

Camera-Roger Luther

The discovery of these rare, historical photographic dry plates tells us a few things. One, photographs do indeed exist of patients who lived and died at Binghamton State Hospital over one hundred years ago. It also tells us that the New York State Office of Mental Health never took the time to save and preserve these important artifacts and didn’t give a hoot about them until the finding was brought to their attention. As usual, now they are very concerned. I believe the burial ledger was also found among the piles of dirt, dust, and pigeon poop. It will be interesting to see if the OMH will let these photographs be released and viewed by the public, or if they will come up with some lame excuse as to why we are not allowed to view them. Thank You, Roger Luther and the volunteers of the Broome County Historical Society and the Greater Binghamton Health Center, for meticulously scanning, restoring, and preserving these historical artifacts!

Materials-Roger Luther

Materials-Roger Luther

The following article “Windows Into The Past-Thousands of Glass Photo Negatives Discovered in Binghamton’s Historic Asylum” by Roger Luther is reprinted with permission. Please click on the RED link below to view more photographs. Sorry friends, there are no photographs of patients.

Photographic Dry Plates-Roger Luther

Photographic Dry Plates-Roger Luther

“Sarah was led from her ward to a nearby building. Entering a small room she sat motionless in a chair facing a large strange-looking wooden contraption. In a flash, her photograph was taken. The man behind the camera told her to turn her head to the right and then… another flash. While Sarah was led away, the photographer removed a large wooden frame from the camera and inserted another for his next subject.

Later in his darkroom, a 5×7-inch glass plate was carefully removed from its wooden frame and washed in chemical baths revealing two black & white negative images of Sarah’s face and profile. The photographer then scribed Sarah’s name and a number on the back of the glass plate and placed it in a box with several others.

That was one hundred years ago, and according to the U.S. Census of 1900, at that time Sarah was listed along with 1,388 others as a patient at Binghamton State Hospital.

A century after her photograph was taken, preparations were being made to rehabilitate the long-vacant Main Building, known as the Castle, on the campus of the former Binghamton State Hospital. A small team of volunteers representing the Broome County Historical Society and the Greater Binghamton Health Center, took on the task of removing items of historical significance from the building, then relocating them to a controlled environment and cataloguing each of the artifacts. Early in the process an amazing discovery was made. A door at the back of the old asylum chapel opened into a small room piled high with various items and debris. Photographs, books, documents, and a variety of other items were mixed with pieces of fallen ceiling plaster, decomposed pigeon parts, and a thick mixture of dirt and dust.

Like excavating an archeological site, layer by layer the material was carefully removed. At one point a small stack of dusty glass plates was uncovered, each measuring 5×7 inches. Holding one of the plates up to a window, a negative image on the glass could be seen. These glass plates were in fact hundred-year-old photographic negatives. Soon, more plates were uncovered in a broken cardboard box, and the dig continued. At the bottom of the pile several more boxes were found. Ultimately, hundreds of glass plates were discovered scattered throughout the room, some broken, some cracked, and most covered with a layer of dirt and plaster dust. Finally a path was cleared to the back of the room where a tall wooden cabinet stood. The cabinet door was pried open and there it was… the mother lode. Over the next several days over 5,000 glass dry-plate photo negatives were removed from the room.

After relocating the glass plates to a controlled environment, a plan was established to carefully clean the plates and then package them in protective acid-free archival material. The next step would be to digitally scan and catalogue each image – an ongoing effort that continues to this day.

Taken over an approximate 25-year period during the early 1900’s, the photos show life at the StateHospital as it was in the earliest years. Subject matter includes hospital staff, buildings, farms, medical charts, and events – but by far, most of the photos are of patients.

As stated in the 1892 Annual Report of the Trustees of Binghamton State Hospital, “it is very desirable to preserve with the records of cases treated in the hospital, photographs of the individual patients.” The report goes on to say that “the modern dry-plate methods of photography are so simple that they are easily managed… the sum we should require to purchase the apparatus necessary would be $300.” Soon after that a camera was procured, and in 1894 one of the nurses at the hospital, Fred W. Ernie, took on the task as photographer along with his other responsibilities.

The trustees could not have known how significant their decision would prove to be. Thanks to their foresight, images were recorded representing thousands of lives-once-lived. Images, that according to Mark Stephany, Director of the Greater Binghamton Health Center, “restore a level of dignity to people long forgotten.”

Today, the images would be invaluable as a resource for historians and those researching family history, however, issues regarding possible public access cannot be addressed until the restoration and scanning effort has been completed. As stated by Darby Penney, co-author of The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic, “the discovery, rescue and conservation of this collection of 5,000 images from Binghamton State Hospital is an incredible feat of preservation and an invaluable contribution to the historical record.”

What happened to Sarah? Nearly 30 years after her listing on the 1900 census, while still a patient at the StateHospital she died and was buried in the hospital cemetery, her grave marked only by a number. But her story does not end there. Construction of an interstate highway in 1961 cut directly through the cemetery forcing the relocation of 1,504 of its nearly 4,000 graves to a nearby field. According to records released by the Department of Transportation at the time, Sarah’s grave was among those moved. Today the relocated cemetery appears as a large empty field, its numbered stone grave markers having long ago settled below ground.

Sarah’s existence, like many of the others on that census list, was one of obscurity. But unknowingly, she and the other patients left their mark for posterity. Like a century-old Facebook, the discovery of this 100-year old time capsule has brought their images to light – and as these faces from the past are being restored and preserved, so to is the dignity of people long forgotten.”

BINGHAMTON STATE HOSPITAL-Main Building-Removal of Artifacts.


1896 State Care System Complete


The Governor has approved the bill creating the Manhattan State Hospital and providing for the transfer of the lunatic asylums of this city and the care of their inmates to the State. Thirty days are allowed for carrying its provisions into effect, and then the system for the State care and maintenance of the dependent insane will be completed, save for perfecting the accommodations and facilities required.

Sixty years ago all the indigent insane in this State whose friends or relatives could not or would not take care of them were sent to the county poorhouses. The care they got and the condition of their wretched loves may be imagined. In 1836 the State hospital at Utica was established for the reception and treatment of acute cases of insanity only. Nearly thirty years later, in 1865, the movement originated by the State Medical Society for the State care of the chronic insane was carried to partial success by the establishment of the Willard State Hospital. That was a formal adoption of the State-care policy, and was followed by the opening of the Hudson River Hospital, at Poughkeepsie, and the Homeopathic Hospital, at Middletown, in 1871, the Buffalo State Hospital in 1880, and the Binghamton State Hospital in 1881.

Instead of fully carrying out the policy thus adopted, the Legislature began to exempt one county after another from the operation of the act of 1865 and to permit them to retain the milder cases. It caused a relapse in about a third of the counties of the State to the old poorhouse system, with all its horrors. This was deprecated by the State Board of Charities, the Commission in Lunacy, and the State Charities Aid Association, and many reports and recommendations were made in favor of completing the State-care system and transferring all the dependent insane to the State hospitals, whose accommodations and facilities should be enlarged correspondingly. It was in 1886 that the State Charities Aid Association took the first active steps in formulating a plan and preparing for legislation. Its first bill was introduced in 1888 and was defeated. It was defeated again in 1889, but in 1890 it had rallied public opinion to its support with so much effect that the State Care bill was carried through both houses, in the face of vigorous opposition from county authorities, and was approved by the Governor. The same year the St. Lawrence Hospital was completed.

The act of 1890 established the hospital districts and placed the administration of the system in charge of the Lunacy Commission and the first special appropriation f $454,850 was made in 1891. This was for enlarging the facilities of the existing hospitals and preparing for the reception of patients from the county asylums and poorhouses. The three counties of Monroe, Kings, and New-York had been exempted from the operation of the act because they had adequate institutions of their own, but provision was made for bringing them into the system by their own voluntary action upon the transfer of their asylum property to the State. Monroe County took advantage of this in 1891, and her asylum was reorganized as the Rochester State Hospital. The first appropriation for maintenance of the system by a special tax levy was made in 1893, and amounted to $1,300,000, and by the beginning of 1894 the transfer from poorhouses and the miserable “asylums” of counties was completed.

New-York and Kings still remained outside the State system, though they had to contribute their share of the special tax for its support. This payment was contested by New-York, but not by Kings, and last year the act was passed which took possession of the Kings County institution at St. Johnland and made of it the Long Island State Hospital. The bill effecting the corresponding result for this city would have become a law then also, except for the litigation over the unpaid arrears of State taxes and the condition imposed in the bill of their payment and the abandonment of the suit then pending on appeal. A short time ago the litigation was ended, and now the Manhattan State Hospital act is a law of the State. This will bring the dependent insane of the whole State, now numbering 18,898, under one uniform, enlightened, and effective system of care and maintenance.

For this gratifying result much credit is due to the State Charities Aid Association and the Commission in Lunacy, which worked persistently and zealously together for years, and the completion of the system will redound to the honor of the State of New-York.

SOURCE: Reprinted from The New York Times. Published January 30, 1896. Copyright @ The New York Times.

1893 New York State Asylum Directory



UTICA STATE HOSPITAL – Utica, Oneida County.
G. Alder Blumer, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
One mile from the New York Central, the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, and the Ontario and Western railway stations. Accessible, every fifteen minutes, by New York Mills or Whitesboro electric cars. Stop at Cross or Jason streets. Telephone, No. 118.

WILLARD STATE HOSPITAL – Willard, Seneca County. 
Theodore H. Kellogg, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible, from the east, by New York Central and Hudson River railway (Auburn branch from Syracuse to Geneva); from the west, via New York Central and Hudson River railway, from Rochester (Auburn branch) to Geneva, or via Philadelphia and Reading railway (Lehigh Valley division); from the north, Lyons to Geneva, via Philadelphia and Reading railway (Lehigh Valley division) and Fall Brook railway, from Geneva, via steamers of the Seneca Lake Steam Navigation Company, or by Philadelphia and Reading railway (Lehigh Valley division); from the south, via the Philadelphia and Reading railway (Lehigh Valley division), or by Seneca Lake Steam Navigation Company. Local telephone.

HUDSON RIVER STATE HOSPITAL – Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County.
C. W. Pilgrim, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
The hospital is located two miles north of the New York Central railway station at Poughkeepsie. Carriages may be procured at the station, and a public conveyance runs regularly to and from the hospital, connecting with the principal trains. The hospital may also be reached by the West Shore railway ferry from Highland station to Poughkeepsie, and by the Philadelphia, Reading and New England railway (Poughkeepsie Bridge route). Conveyances may be procured from Parker avenue station. Telephone call, “Hudson River State Hospital.”

Selden H. Talcott, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Middletown is sixty-six miles from New York city, and may be reached by the following railways: New York, Lake Erie and Western; New York, Ontario and Western, and New York, Susquehanna and Western. The hospital is reached by several omnibus lines. Public carriages may also be had at the station. Telephone No. 41.

BUFFALO STATE HOSPITAL – Buffalo, Erie County. 
J. B. Andrews, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
The institution is three and a half miles from the New York Central railway station, and is accessible by street cars, namely trolley line on Niagara street, trolley line on Main street, of horse cars through Elmwood avenue. Telephone No. 1235 D.

BINGHAMTON STATE HOSPITAL – Binghamton, Broome County.
Charles G. Wagner, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Located on the lines of the Erie, Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, and Delaware and Hudson railways. Electric cars leave corner of Court and Washington streets, near all railway stations, every fifteen minutes, between 6 A. M. and 10 P. M. Telephone No. 553.

ST. LAWRENCE STATE HOSPITAL – Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County. 
P. M. Wise, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Located three and one-half miles from center of Ogdensburg, on the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg and Central Vermont railways. Accessible by omnibus from Seymour house, four times daily. Public carriages may also be obtained at railway stations. Telephone call, ” State Hospital.”

ROCHESTER STATE HOSPITAL – Rochester, Monroe County. 
E. H. Howard, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Two miles from railway stations. Accessible by electric cars of the South and Lake avenue line. Telephone No. 124 I.

MATTEAWAN STATE HOSPITAL – Matteawan, Dutchess County.
(For insane criminals only.)
Post-office and railroad station, Fiskill-on-the-Hudson.
H. E. Allison, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Fifty-eight miles from New York city, on the New York Central and Hudson River railway. It is also accessible by the West Shore railway and the Erie, to Newburg; thence by ferry to Fiskill-on-the-Hudson. The institution may be reached by an electric railway, which runs within three-quarters of a mile from the Hudson River railway station; also public conveyances at the station. Telephone call, “State Asylum.”


A. E. MacDonald, M. D., General Superintendent New York City Asylums.
Post-office address, Station F, New York city.
All official communication with regard to the New York City Asylums for the Insane, should be addressed to the general superintendent. Ferry tickets and railroad tickets (at reduced rates, to those entitled to same) and permits for admission can be obtained only at the office of the Department of Public Charities and Correction, 66 Third Avenue, cor. Eleventh street.

W. A. Macy, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by department boats, from foot of East Twenty-sixth street, 10.30 A. M.; also by steam ferry, on even hours, from foot of 115th street. Telephone, 420-18.

E. C. Dent, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by department boat from foot of East Twenty-sixth street 10.30 A. M.; also by ferries from foot of Fifty-second and Seventy-eighth streets, running hourly. Telephone 1028-18.

Geo. A. Smith, M. D., Acting Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by department boats from foot of East Twenty-sixth street 11.30 A. M.

CENTRAL ISLIP ASYLUM – Central Islip, Long Island.
(Branch of New York city asylums.)
H. C. Evarts, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by trains on the Long Island railway; surface and elevated roads from Grand Central station to Thirty-fourth street ferry, connecting with Long Island City station of Long Island railway. No telephone. Telegraph Central Islip, L. I.

W. E. Sylvester, M. D., General Superintendent.
Three miles from Brooklyn; accessible by street car from East Twenty-third street and Fulton ferries. Telephone No. 68, Flatbush. All official communications with regard to the Kings County Asylums should be addressed to W. E. Sylvester, M. D., General Superintendent, Flatbush, L. I.

KINGS COUNTY FARM – Kings Park, Long Island.
(Branch of Kings County Lunatic Asylum).
Oliver M. Dewing, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Forty-five miles from New York city; accessible by trains on the Long Island railway; surface and elevated roads from Grand Central station, New York, to Thirty-fourth street ferry, connecting with Long Island City station of the Long Island railway; also from Flatbush avenue station, via Jamaica, Long Island railway. No telephone. Telegraph, Kings Park, one mile distant.


BLOOMINGDALE ASYLUM – One Hundred And Seventeenth Street, New York City. Between Amsterdam avenue and Boulevard.
S. B. Lyon, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by Boulevard cars, or Elevated railway, to One Hundred and Fourth street and Amsterdam avenue cars. Number of patients 300. This institution receives and treats, gratuitously, a small number of indigent insane of New York city, and receives a considerable number of acute and hopeful cases, which pay only part of their expenses. It will be removed to “White Plains before October, 1894. Telephone No. 714, Harlem, New York City.

PROVIDENCE RETREAT – Buffalo, Erie County.
Under the charge of the Sisters of Charity.
Floyd S. Crego, M. D., Consulting Physician.
Harry A. Wood, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Located on Main street, corner of Steele. Distance from Union railway station, four miles. Accessible by electric street car line. Number of patients limited to 125. Minimum rate for care and treatment of private patients, six dollars per week. Telephone No. 791, M.

MARSHALL INFIRMARY – Troy, Rensselaer County.
J. D. Lomax, M. D., Physician in Charge.
One mile from Union Railway station. Accessible by electric street car, from Congress street. Number of patients limited to 130. Minimum rate for care and treatment of private patients, five dollars per week. Telephone call, “Marshall Infirmary.”

LONG ISLAND HOME – Amityville, Long Island.
O. J. Wilsey, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Thirty-two miles from New York. Accessible by Montauk division of Long Island railway; ferry from East Thirty-fourth street, New York. Only a short distance from railway station. Number of patients limited to 114. Minimum rate ten dollars per week. No telephone.

BRIGHAM HALL HOSPITAL – Canandaigua, Ontario County.
D. R. Burrell, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Situated on Bristol street, one mile from the New York Central and Northern Central railway station. Accessible by public carriages, always to be found at the station. Number of patients limited to seventy-eight. Minimum rate, ten dollars per week. Telephone No. 35, or “Brigham Hall.”

ST. VINCENT’S RETREAT – Harrison, Westchester County.
H. Ernst Schmid, M. D., Attending Physician, White Plains.
John J. Lewis, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Under management of the Sisters of Charity; for women only. Fifty minutes from New York on the New York and New Haven railway. Trains leave the Grand Central station, New York city, for Harrison, every hour from 9 A. M. to 7 P. M. Number of patients limited to sixty. Minimum rate, $10 per week. All official communications should be addressed to the physician in charge. Telephone No. 30, White Plains.

WALDEMERE – Mamaroneck, Westchester County.
E. N. Carpenter, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Forty minutes from New York on the New York, New Haven and Hartford railway. Trains leave Grand Central station, New York, every hoar for Mamaroneck. Waldemere is one mile from station, where public carriages may be found. Number of patients limited to eighteen. Minimum rate, $25 per week. No telephone.

SANFORD HALL – Flushing, Long Island.
J. W. Barstow, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Willett S. Brown, M. D., Assistant Physician.
Institution situated about one-half mile from Long Island railway station and accessible by public carriage. Going from Brooklyn, take Greenpoint or crosstown street car to Long Island City, thence on Long Island railway. Number of patients limited to thirty-six. Minimum rate, $25 per week. Telephone, Flushing 17 A.

BREEZEHURST TERRACE – Whitestone, Long Island.
D. A. Harrison, M. D., Physician in Charge.
John A. Arnold, M. D., Assistant Physician.
Accessible from New York city from East Thirty-fourth street ferry, via Long Island railway. Trains run every hour to Whitestone; time, thirty minutes. May also be reached by driving, via East Ninety-ninth street ferry to College Point, from which place it is about one and one-half miles. Going from Brooklyn, take the Greenpoint or crosstown street car to Long Island City. In taking patients from Brooklyn it is better to drive, as it only requires a little more than one hour via Grand street to Newtown, thence through Flushing to Whitestone. Number of patients limited to nineteen. Minimum rate, $20 per week. No telephone.

945 St. Maek’s Avenue, Brooklyn.
Between Kingston and Albany avenues.
T. L. Wells, M. D., Physician in Charge.
The Sanitarium may be reached by the Bergen street car line, the Atlantic avenue railway or elevated railway from Brooklyn bridge. Stop at Albany avenue station of elevated road. Number limited to sixteen women patients. Minimum rate $10 per week. Telephone No. 69, Bedford.

Sing Sing, Westchester County.
R. L. Parsons, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Location, one mile from New York Central station. Public carriages may be hired at the station. Number limited to twelve. Minimum rate, $75 per week, which includes all extras. No telephone.

Pleasantville, Westchester County.
G. C. S. Choate, M. D., Physician in Charge.
One mile from Pleasantville station on Harlem railway, and two miles from Whitsons station of New York and Northern railway. New York Central trains stop at Tarrytown, six miles distant. Pleasantville is thirty miles north of New York city. Number limited to ten. Minimum rate, $75 per week, including all extras. No telephone communication.

Wood Haven, Long Island.
H. Elliott, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Best reached by Brooklyn elevated trains, from Brooklyn bridge, or East Twenty-third street ferry to Ridgewood, thence by Richmond Hill surface car to Flushing avenue, Wood Haven. Sanitarium two minutes walk to the right. Also easily accessible from Brooklyn, by carriage, via Myrtle avenue, to Flushing avenue, Wood Haven. One mile from Wood Haven Junction station, on the Long Island Railway. Number of patients limited to thirty-four. Minimum rate $10 per week. Telephone No. 7,1, East New York.

GLENMARY – Owego, Tioga County.
J. T. Greenleaf, M. D., Physician in Charge.
E. E. Snyder, M. D., Consulting Physician.
Three-fourths of a mile from railway stations, where public carriages may be obtained. Accessible by New York, Lake Erie and Western and by Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railways, and Southern Central Division, Lehigh Valley railway. Number of patients limited to fifty. Minimum rate, ten dollars per week. Telephone call, ” Glenmary.”

FALKIRK – Central Valley, Orange County.
James F. Ferguson, M. D., Physician in Charge.
David H. Sprague, M. D., Associate Physician.
One mile from Central Valley station, on Newburg branch of New York, Lake Erie and Western railway, forty-seven miles from New York city. Number of patients limited to thirty-four. Minimum rate, twenty dollars per week. Telephone, “Falkirk.”

VERNON HOUSE – Bronxville, Westchester County.
William D. Granger, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Post-office and telegraph, Bronxville. Accessible by the New Haven railway, to Mt. Vernon, or by Harlem railroad to Bronxville. Public carriages may be obtained at railway station. Number of patients limited to sixteen. Minimum rate, thirty-five dollars per week. No telephone.

THE PINES – Auburn, Cayuga County.
Frederick Sefton, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Accessible by the Auburn branch of the New York Central and Hudson River railway, and the Southern Central division of the Lehigh Valley railway. A little over three hours by rail from Rochester, four from Albany and Buffalo, seven from New York city. Number of patients limited to twelve. Minimum rate, twenty dollars per week. Telephone No. 261.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the Department of Mental Hygiene, State Commission In Lunacy, Fifth Annual Report, October 1, 1892, to September 30, 1893, Transmitted To The Legislature April 27, 1894, Volume 5, Part VII., Chapter 32, Asylum Directory, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer 1894, Pages 675 – 685.

1914 Destroy Bad Food Of State Asylums

Shocking Conditions Found by Federal Inspectors in a Sweeping Inquiry.
Condition “Bordering on Savagery” at Binghamton
Milk from Tubercular Cows at Poughkeepsie.
Special to The New York Times.

ALBANY, May 8. – For eighteen months, according to information received to-day by Commissioner John H. Delaney of the Department of Efficiency and Economy, the insane patients of the Hudson River State Hospital at Poughkeepsie were supplied with milk from tubercular cows belonging to the institution and purchased with the State’s money. Mr. Delaney learned that in that period twenty-three gravely afflicted milch cows of the hospital’s own herd were condemned.

An investigation at once will be made by Commissioner Delaney to ascertain whether the animals were suffering from tuberculosis when they were purchased or whether the disease developed among them after they became the property of the institution.

The State Hospital Commission, which is responsible for the management of the State Hospitals for the Insane, has as yet made no official answer to the accusations contained in the reports of Inspectors of the Department of Efficiency and Economy. It was learned to-day, however, that when an inspection of the food supply at the various institutions was made some weeks ago by experts from the Bureau of Animal Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture, the Hospital Commission started to make some inquiries about conditions at the fourteen institutions under its supervision.

According to information obtained to-day complaints were received from several institutions regarding the quality of the beef after the commission contracted for a three months’ supply of Argentine beef. Inspector Phillips then urged the commission to have an inquiry made by two Federal Inspectors, and his advice was followed.

The reports of these inspectors have been in the hands of the State Hospital Commission since early in April, but have not been made pubic. The inspectors reported deplorable conditions at nearly every institution they visited.

At the Utica State Hospital the Federal inspectors were compelled to order the destruction of a large quantity of lard used in the making of bread because it was rancid. The bakery at the institution, they said, was “unclean beyond belief.” The floor and walls they found “in a vile state.” Conditions, they said, were “a grave menace to employes and inmates of the institution.”

They found 500 pounds of pork and seven carcasses of mutton which were unfit for food. After discovering that forty dozen of eggs out of a total supply of seventy-five dozen were decayed, they were informed by the kitchen employes that it had been the practice to feed the patients with such eggs.

At the Buffalo State Hospital the Inspectors ordered the destruction of meat unfit for human consumption; at Central Islip they condemned eggs and 200 pounds of beef; at Willard a barrel of fat, intended, it was asserted, for cooking purposes, was condemned.

Similar conditions were reported at the Binghamton State Hospital. A condition described as “bordering on savagery” was found by the Federal Inspectors in the storeroom of the Mohansic State Hospital at Yorktown Heights. At the Rochester State Hospital the inspectors ordered the entire supply of eggs on hand, 320 dozen, destroyed as unfit for food. A supply of bacon and beef in the storeroom, the inspectors said, should not be used for food. Employees at the Middletown State Hospital told the inspectors most of the eggs used for the patients at the institution were decayed.

Commissioner Delaney said to-day that reports from investigators of this department who have been inquiring into conditions at the Long Island State Hospital in Flatbush show “dreadful” conditions at that institution. The investigation of the Efficiency and Economy Department thus far has been confined to the mechanical equipment of the hospital, but Federal Inspectors have made inquiries regarding the food.

The Federal Inspectors report that many of the eggs at this institution are classified in the trade as “rots” and “spots” and “weak and cloudy” eggs. Employes said that the grade of eggs furnished to the institution was extremely poor. The Federal Inspectors found 200 pounds of moldy bacon and two tubs of rancid lard.

An engineer employed by the Department of Efficiency and Economy found the floors and ceilings of the institution in a bad and dangerous condition. The menace to the inmates in case of fire, the engineer said, was very grave, owing to a defective fire alarm system and improperly marked stairways and exits. The sanitary conditions of the institution the expert called “a mockery” of conditions that should obtain.

SOURCE: The New York Times, Published: May 9, 1914, Copyright @ The New York Times

Binghamton State Hospital & Cemetery

Binghamton Asylum for the Chronic Insane was the second New York State Asylum for the “Chronic Insane” ONLY that opened on October 19, 1881; Willard was the first opening on October 13, 1869. In 1890, ALL NYS Insane Asylums became “state hospitals” and accepted both chronic and acute patients. Binghamton State Hospital served the counties of Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schoharie, and Tioga. 

1916 Binghamton State Hospital
Binghamton State Hospital History – nysAsylum – Roger Luther
Binghamton State Hospital – You Tube
Binghamton Asylum Cemetery Records – 1,500 Patient Names.
2014 Roger Luther – Glass Photo Negatives Discovered in Binghamton’s Historic Asylum – 2.18.2014.

Roger Luther has done a fabulous job with photographing many of the abandoned New York State hospitals and cemeteries. Please visit his website at: nysAsylum.com.

Binghamton Cemetery by Roger Luther

Binghamton Cemetery by Roger Luther

Chap. 280. AN ACT to abolish the New York State Inebriate Asylum, and to establish the Binghamton Asylum for the Chronic Insane, and to provide for the management thereof. Passed May 13, 1879; three-fifths being present.

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. The institution heretofore established, and now known as the New York State Inebriate Asylum, at Binghamton, is hereby abolished; and all the property and privileges belonging to this State, and now managed and administered by the managers of said inebriate asylum, are hereby transferred and intrusted to the care and management of the Binghamton Asylum for the Chronic Insane, which is hereby established. The governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, shall appoint nine citizens of this State as a board of trustees of such asylum for the insane, who shall be divided into three equal classes – the first class to hold office for two years; the second class four years, and the third class six years, from and after the passage of this act, and until their successors are appointed and enter upon the discharge of their duties. The governor is hereby authorized, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, to fill all vacancies hereafter occurring in said board of trustees, either by reason of the expiration of the term of service, or for any other cause.

§ 2. Immediately after the passage of this act, the managers of said inebriate asylum shall begin their preparation to close up the affairs of begin to the same, and shall give free access and opportunity to the agents, mechanics and laborers to be employed by the trustees of said asylum for the chronic insane, to enter upon said property for the purpose of preparing the same for the uses of such insane asylum; and upon the expiration of thirty days from and after the passage of this act, the said managers, their officers, agents, employes and servants, shall vacate such property, and leave the same to the possession, control, and management of the trustees appointed under the first section of this act.”…

SOURCE: Laws of the State of New York, Passed at the One Hundred and Second Session of the Legislature, Begun January Seventh, and Ended May Twenty-Second, 1879, In the City of Albany, Albany: A. Bleecker Banks, Publisher, 1879, Page 368.

Binghamton Cemetery 2 by Roger Luther

Binghamton Cemetery 2 by Roger Luther

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO They’re Buried Where? by Seth Voorhees

THE BAD NEWS: Thousands Remain Nameless! 6.15.2015.

THE GOOD NEWS: One Man Is Remembered! 6.14.2015.

1901 New York State Hospitals


By 1901, there were thirteen state hospitals for the insane in the State of New York. All these hospitals buried their dead in anonymous, unmarked graves. Some had their own cemetery like Willard State Hospital; others used city and county cemeteries like Rochester State Hospital. Most of these state hospital cemeteries are unmarked, unkempt, and forgotten. None of the thousands of former psychiatric patients’ names have been released to the public. Considering that in 1870, the first patient was buried in the Willard Cemetery, which in the year 2012 covers a span of five or six generations, these people have waited long enough to be remembered. When you release the names, you remove the stigma. The following is a list of most of these long-closed state hospitals; there are more.

1. Utica State Hospital – Counties of Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Saratoga, Schenectady and Warren.

2. Hudson River State Hospital – Counties of Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Putnam, Richmond, Rensselaer, Washington and Westchester.

3. Middletown State Hospital – Counties of Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster.

4. Buffalo State Hospital – Counties of Erie and Niagara.

5. Willard State Hospital – Counties of Allegany, Cayuga, Genesee, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tompkins, Wayne and Yates.

6. Binghamton State Hospital – Counties of Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schoharie and Tioga.

7. St. Lawrence State Hospital – Counties of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, Onondaga,Oswego and St. Lawrence.

8. Rochester State Hospital – Counties of Monroe and Livingston.

9, 10. Long Island State Hospital – (Kings Park and Flatbush, Brooklyn) – Counties of Kings, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk.

11, 12. Manhattan State Hospital – (Manhattan and Central Islip) – Counties of New York and Richmond.

13. Gowanda State Homoeopathic Hospital (Collin’s Farm) – Counties of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Wyoming.

Additional State Hospitals:

14. Pilgrim State Hospital – Brentwood, Suffolk County, New York

15. Mohansic State Hospital – Yorktown, Westchester County, New York

State Hospitals for the Criminally Insane:

16, 17. Mattaewan and Dannemora State Hospitals