This is another great project that concerns unmarked, anonymous graves. 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.
“A nonprofit charitable organization assisting families across the globe to relocate a diverse, international community of people who disappeared in the greater New York area…The City Cemetery occupies 101 acres in the Long Island Sound on the eastern edge of New York City. It is the largest tax funded cemetery in the world. Prison labor is used to perform the daily mass burials that number over 850,000. Citizens must contact the prison system to visit Hart Island. There is no map of the burials and no one is permitted to visit a specific grave. The Department of Correction restricts visitation to every third Thursday of the month and only to visit a gazebo near the ferry dock. Records at this location consist of intact mass graves since 1980. Many older records were destroyed in a fire on Hart Island in 1977. Some surviving records are available on microfilm at the Municipal Archives. The mission of the Hart Island Project is to make the largest cemetery in the United States visible and accessible so that no one is omitted from history. On September 27, 2012, The Hart Island Project testified before the New York City Council concerning updating the administrative code for operations on Hart Island.”
I always wondered where the patients of the New York City Asylums / Manhattan State Hospital were buried. I now believe that they were buried on Hart Island.