1896 New York State Commission in Lunacy

Before you read The New York Times Article, I have given a brief explanation of what the New York State Commission in Lunacy was and who it was responsible for. It eventually morphed into the present day New York State Office of Mental Health. Instead of a president, the head of the OMH is the commissioner.

“The commission is composed of a physician, who is its president, a lawyer and a layman, aiming thereby to secure due attention to the medical, the legal and the material or business matters which concern the insane and the institutions for their custody and care. The commission collectively and individually is invested with a wide range of powers and is charged with a corresponding extent and variety of duties.”

“The commissioners are paid for their services as follows: To the medical member, $5,000 per annum; to the legal member, $3,000 per annum; to the lay member, $10 per day for each day of actual service; and to each member an allowance of $100 per month in lieu of all expenses for travel or other purposes.”

“Under the amended constitution of the State which took effect on January 1, 1895, the commission is raised from a legislative to a constitutional body, and made a permanent branch of the State government. It is endowed with sole and exclusive jurisdiction over the insane and over all institutions, public or private, for their custody; but it has been relieved from all connection with or charge of the idiotic, the epileptic and feeble-minded, or other defective and dependent classes. Its present composition, on the threefold basis above referred to, is calculated to insure efficiency in performance and success in administrative results in a larger measure than could be attained by perhaps any different arrangement.”

SOURCE: Report of the Investigation of the State Commission in Lunacy, and the State Hospitals for the Insane, by the Subcommittee of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees. Transmitted to the Legislature May 10, 1895, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1895, Pages 4,6,7.

O.M.H. Police Patch-Wikipedia

O.M.H. Police Patch-Wikipedia

President MacDonald of the State Commission Ridicules the Idea that the Patronage of the Hospitals for the Insane Will Go to Politicians –
He Expects Gov. Morton to Make Good Appointments Under the Horton Act.

Dr. Carlos F. MacDonald, President of the State Commission in Lunacy, yesterday ridiculed the notion that the patronage of the State hospitals for the insane would be transferred to politicians through the operation of the Horton act, which was signed by Gov. Morton on Wednesday.

The Governor is empowered by the act to appoint new Boards of Managers for all the State hospitals for the insane except the Homeopathic Hospital at Middletown. The number of managers in each case is to be seven, to be appointed at first for terms of one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven years, and afterward for the full term of seven years.

“I am quite sure” said Dr. MacDonald to a reporter for THE NEW-YORK TIMES, “that Gov. Morton will appoint men and women as managers whose character and standing in the community will be a guarantee of their efficiency and uprightness.

The State Commission in Lunacy is an absolutely non-political body in the performance of its duties, and if it were otherwise I should not be connected with it. While the clause in the Horton act removing the present Board of Managers was not suggested or approved by the Lunacy Commission, I do not believe that the appointment of new boards will make any serious changes in the system at present in vogue.

“Under the act passed in 1893, the Lunacy Commission has large powers of audit and supervision over the various State hospitals for the insane. No expenditure can be incurred by any Board of Managers without its sanction. This rule applies to small things as well as to great ones. No repairs to buildings can be made until the Lunacy Commission has given its consent to the work and to the price which is to be paid for it.

“Most of the staple articles – such as meat, clothing, milk, and so forth – are obtained through contracts, tenders being invited for three, six, or twelve months at a given price, the articles to be supplies as required. These contracts must be submitted to the Lunacy Commission, which sees that there is no serious inequality in price between the tenders from different districts. In some cases the commission uses its powers so as to make several districts combine to purchase their supplies of certain staples from one particular contractor, selected by open competition, to insure the reduction in price which comes from buying goods by the wholesale.

“Supplies for each hospital are now ordered by its steward with the approval of the Medical Superintendent, and therefore the Board of Managers has no power to increase such orders. The appointment of all subordinates in each hospital rests with the Medical Superintendent, under carefully regulated and rigorously observed civil service rules, so that this important branch of the service is not open to the attack of politicians.

“The Medical Superintendent of each State hospital for the insane is, indeed, only after competitive examination, open only to those who have served five years as medical assistants in one the State hospitals for the insane. This is an excellent provision, as it insures promotion for those who devote their abilities to the study of insanity. The Medical Superintendents cannot be removed except for cause.

“The list of managers appointed by Gov. Morton for the Manhattan State Hospital on Ward’s Island is an indication of the class of men and women he will appoint for all the hospitals. These are now Henry E. Howland, George E. Dodge, Mrs. Eleanor Kinnicut, John McAnerney, Isaac N. Seligman, Miss Alice Pine, and George S. Bowdoin.”

The State hospitals for the insane whose managers will go out of office by the terms of the Horton act are the Manhattan State Hospital, the Long Island State Hospital, in Brooklyn; the Hudson River State Hospital, at Poughkeepsie; the Buffalo State Hospital, the Rochester State Hospital, the Binghamton State Hospital, the Utica State Hospital, the St. Lawrence State Hospital, at Ogdensburg; the Willard State Hospital, at Ovid, Seneca County, and the Collins Farm, in Erie County.

The total annual expenditure for these hospitals is upward of $4,000,000. There were 18,269 insane persons confined in the public hospitals of this State on Oct. 1, 1894. These required 3,304 medical and ordinary attendants.

The improvement which has taken place in the State management of the insane in recent years is due in large measure to the increased powers of audit and supervision given to the State Lunacy Commission as a result of disclosures of mismanagement in the Hudson River Hospital and elsewhere in 1892.

Francis R. Gilbert, Deputy Attorney General, was directed by Gov. Flower to make an investigation of the affairs of the Hudson River State Hospital in February, 1893. It was proved that one dealer had had a monopoly of supplying this hospital with meat for the preceding twenty-one years, getting from 2 to 2 ½ cents a pound more than the market price.

It was also shown that the price paid for coal was excessive, and the quantity used extravagant. The attention of the public was directed to this mismanagement chiefly through the columns of THE NEW-YORK TIMES, and the consequence was the introduction of reformed civil service methods in the administration of all the State hospitals for the insane.

SOURCE: The New York Times. Published May 15, 1896. Copyright@The New York Times.

1891 Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital

This is a very lengthy Letter to the Editor of The New York Times written by MEDICUSThe Medicus – A Journal for the Busy Practitioner, of the nineteenth century. What MEDICUS was basically stating among other things was: After 1890 with the passage of THE STATE CARE ACT, all New York State Hospitals accepted both CHRONIC and ACUTE patients from their corresponding districts so that the patients would be able to remain in their hometown area. There were no longer asylums specifically for the CHRONIC INSANE as in WILLARD and BINGHAMTON State Hospitals. However, if an asylum became overcrowded, the state would transfer patients to another state hospital out of the patients’ district. The main point that MEDICUS made was: If New York State was transferring patients out of their district to another state hospital, why couldn’t the State pay for the transportation of patients whose family and friends wanted them to receive HOMEOPATHIC medical care as opposed to ALLOPATHIC medical care? They eventually won their case. There were two STATE HOMEOPATHIC HOSPITALS for the Insane: MIDDLETOWN located in Middletown (1874), Orange County, New York; and GOWANDA (1898), located in Collins, Erie County, New York.

“HOMEOPATHY: a system of medical practice that treats a disease especially by the administration of minute doses of a remedy that would in healthy persons produce symptoms similar to those of the disease.

System of therapeutics founded in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann on the principle that ‘like cures like.’ That is, substances that in healthy persons would produce the symptoms from which the patient suffers are used to treat the patient. Hahnemann further stated that the potency of a curative agent increases as the substance is diluted. When it was introduced, homeopathy was a mild, welcome alternative to heavy-handed therapies such as bleeding, but it has since been criticized for focusing on symptoms rather than causes. With the rise of alternative medicine, it has seen resurgence.”

“ALLOPATHY: a system of medical practice that aims to combat disease by use of remedies (as drugs or surgery) producing effects different from or incompatible with those produced by the disease being treated. 2. a system of medical practice making use of all measures that have proved of value in treatment of disease.”
SOURCE: Merriam Webster.com

Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital 1896

Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital 1896

THE MIDDLETOWN HOSPITAL. It’s History And The Laws Which Govern It.
How It Is Affected By The State Care Of The Insane Act –
How Proposed Legislation Would Affect The Insane Poor.

 To the Editor of the New-York Times:

The State Homeopathic Hospital, or, as it was formerly called, the State Homeopathic Asylum, was established by act of the Legislature of 1870 and was opened in 1874. The friends of homeopathy, in order to secure an asylum for the insane in which the treatment should be exclusively of the homeopathic order, entered into an agreement with the State substantially to contribute $100,000 for each $100,000 which the State should furnish. This agreement was carried out to only a very limited extent.

The utmost claim put forth by the friends of homeopathy as to the extent of the carrying out of the agreement on their part is this – that they contributed a few hundred acres of land and the sum of $50,000 in cash. The State was induced to waive the carrying out of the remainder of the agreement, and the institution was fully organized and equipped as a State institution in all respects whatsoever, differing in no regard from the other hospitals of the State, with the exception of the insertion of a special clause in the statute which provided that the treatment should be wholly of the homeopathic order. Subsequent legislation was obtained providing that the acceptance of the office of Trustee should amount to a pledge on the part of such officer that the principles of homeopathy should be maintained. A reference to the organic act will show that, with the above exception, it was placed precisely upon the same footing as the other, at that time, so-called “acute” asylums for the insane, said act of 1870 providing for the doing of that which had been and might be done without its passage, namely, that to the extent of its capacity courts and Judges should have the power to commit such pauper and insane poor from any part of the State as might desire to secure homeopathic treatment. The right to receive private or pay patients was also conferred upon the MiddletownStateHomeopathicHospital in the same manner and to the same extent only as was conferred upon the UticaStateHospital, which is the governing act of all the State hospitals in the State.

This act provided that such private or pay patients might be received whenever there were vacancies. From the foregoing it will readily be seen that the Legislature unquestionably intended that, while the treatment given should be purely of the homeopathic order, in all other respects the hospital should be conducted under the same laws and in the same manner as all the other State insane asylums.

By the passage of this act and the erection of this asylum the Legislature of 1870 did what had never before been done in the history of its dealings with the dependent insane, to wit, recognize a particular school of medicine-a distinction which to this day no other school has sought or had-yet, so far as a study of the statutes reveals, it was indisputably intended that the corporation of this asylum should be held to as strict a measure of legal accountability as any one of the other State asylums, an that it should enjoy no other or greater privilege than was possessed by all of them.

This institution, from the time of its erection down to the time of the passage of the State Care act, had always been regarded in the same light as the other State asylums of the State. It received appropriations from the Legislature and its capacity was enlarged from time to time, the laws under which it was governed remaining the same as when established, except as modified by the State Care act, which was prepared, it is understood, by Theodore W. Dwight, the distinguished Warden of the Columbia College Law School-than whom a more just or equitable man never lived-provided, as is well known, for the division of the State into as many districts as there were State asylums for the insane, and provided that the insane poor of any particular district should be sent to the hospital situated within said district. But the author of the statute, no doubt having in view the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital and the special treatment given there, provided that, if a patient or his friends elected so to do, he might be received into an asylum beyond the limits of the district in which he lived upon the following conditions:

First – That there shall be a vacancy in the hospital in which the patient desired treatment.

Second – That the consent of the Superintendent of the hospital and the consent of the Chairman of the State Commission in Lunacy shall be obtained.

Third – That the patient’s friends or relatives should pay the expense of transportation beyond the limits of the district in which the patient resides.

It would not have been necessary to impose any condition upon the free choice by a patient of a hospital in which he might desire treatment, had it not been for the fact that, except for some such condition, Superintendents of the Poor, for the sake of the increased mileage and emoluments which could be derived from traveling long distances, might frequently take patients to asylums situated a long distance from the place in which the patient lived. In fact, but for this reason it perhaps might not have been necessary to have established any districts whatever, as, if the element of greed could have been eliminated, convenience, accessibility, and the desires of the patients and their friends might safely have been trusted to regulate the whole matter. It was necessary, however, that some check should be imposed, in order that patients may not be obliged to travel greater distances than are absolutely necessary; and, therefore, on of the conditions named was that of requiring the consent of the President of the State Commission in Lunacy. But inquiry at the office of the commission shows that since the State Care act went into effect on the lst of October, 1890, less than thirty applications to go beyond the limits of the district have been received, thus clearly showing that a comparatively small number of people have any choice or care anything whatever as to what particular institution their insane relatives of friends shall be cared for in.

The legal rights heretofore enjoyed by the Middletown Hospital have not been interfered with in any way by the passage of this law except in the manner herein indicated. The right to receive private or pay patients under the law is precisely the same to-day as it was at the time the hospital was first opened, namely, the right to receive that class of patients when vacancies exist. The passage of the State Care act did not in any other manner whatever change existing laws upon the subject. But upon the taking effect of the State Care act on the 1st of October, 1890, it was found that there were about two thousand more insane poor to be provided for than could be accommodated in all the State hospitals in the State, and, of course, there ceased to be any vacancies for the admission of private or pay patients in the State hospitals. The State Commission in Lunacy, to which is confided the execution of the laws of the State so far as they affect the insane, were compelled to enforce the law in regard to the admission of private patients. It did not, however, enforce the law as rigorously as it might have done. It held that, at least within the spirit and intent of the law, private patients whose means are limited to the extent of being able to pay but a small sum per week might be admitted, and such patients have been admitted without objection from that time to this: That it declined to permit the admission of wealthy or high-priced private patients on the ground that the admission of such patients was not provided for by the statute, and that they could be provided for in the private asylums of the State, of which there are a large number representing the two principal schools of medicine, or equally open to both.

The bill which has passed the State Senate, if it becomes a law, will for the first time in the history of the State establish a principle which has been justly regarded as foreign to the spirit of our institutions, namely, the principle of paternalism in government – the duty of the State to provide for a class of its citizens able to provide for themselves. Moreover, it places at the disposal of one of the schools of medicine in the State a great hospital for the insane, which has cost in round numbers a million of dollars, and practically discriminates against all the other schools of medicine. This bill, which many have believed to simply restore the law as it existed prior to the passage of the State Care act, not only does this, but goes very much beyond it, as it provides for the admission of the indigent and insane poor from any part of the State, and also for the admission of “private patients” of whatever grade and upon such terms and conditions as may be fixed by the Trustees of the institution. In fact, the words “private patients” are for the first time recognized in the statutes of the State. The words “when vacancies exist” are wholly eliminated, so that it becomes a pure matter of discretion in the Trustees of a State institution, which is owned and controlled by the State and supposedly erected for the benefit of the insane poor now in the poorhouses or the wealthy private or pay patients. This is the really objectionable and dangerous feature of the bill. No matter how pressing may be the necessities of the insane poor, the rich who are able to provide for themselves may have the preference if the Trustees choose to give it. Singularly, too, no restrictions have surrounded the question of the determination of who desire homeopathic treatment. Upon the mere say-so of the patient or his friends, which would be sufficient to a Superintendent of the Poor, a patient may be transported hundreds of miles across the State to this institution simply for the purpose of adding to the fees and emoluments of a Superintendent of the Poor.

The right of the indigent insane for whom homeopathic treatment is desired to free admission to the Homeopathic Hospital from any part of the State might, perhaps, be conceded without any intervention or concurrence on the part of the Lunacy Commission, although in practice, as already stated, the occasion for such concurrence seldom arises. And incidentally, it may be added at the Lunacy Commission office the fact is freely admitted that they would, personally, be glad to be relieved of all connection with the matter, provided that some other efficient safeguard against imposition and abuse in the matter of transportation charges were suggested.

It is claimed by the friends of the Middletown State Hospital that medical liberty has been encroached upon by the passage of the State Care act. It is difficult, however, to see wherein this effect has been produced. The free and unrestricted right of the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital to give homeopathic treatment has not been abridged in any manner, nor, so far as it is known, is it claimed to have been abridged. But while by the passage of the bill under discussion this liberty demanded in the name of homeopathic profession will have been extended even further than as it was held before the State Care act became law, an equal measure of the same liberty is practically denied to all other schools of medicine.

The laws of the State of New-York, with the exception above indicated, have never recognized any particular school of medicine whatsoever, and do not do so now. The rules and regulations of the Civil Service Commission, so far as they relate to schools of medicine, place them upon an equality, and always have done so. The right of any particular school of medicine, so far as the method of treatment in the other State hospitals is concerned, is not abridged in any way. A homeopathic physician may secure appointment in any of the other hospitals in the State, and enforce such medical treatment as he believes in, without let or hindrance. But, if medical liberty is to be enjoyed by one school of medicine, it is difficult to see why it should be denied to the others; in other words, why a wealthy private patient who desires homeopathic treatment should be afforded by the State magnificent opportunities for its enjoyment at Middletown, while another patient who, for example, desires allopathic treatment in the Buffalo State Hospital or the Utica State Hospital, should be denied an equal privilege. It is hard to conceive how the State can thus discriminate against its citizens, can thus patronize one school of medicine at the expense of another, can place a great hospital, with all the prestige which such an institution commands, at the exclusive disposal of one school of medicine, without conferring a like privilege upon other schools; how, for instance, the eclectic school of medicine be denied the same privilege of the use of a State Hospital wherein only the eclectic method of treatment shall prevail.

The effect of the passage of such an act could not fail to be most pronounced upon State care of the insane, for it can hardly be denied that if this privilege is extended without restriction to the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital it will ultimately, if not immediately, be claimed for and must be given to all other State hospitals of the State. This would, in practical effect, destroy the distraction system, would greatly embarrass the operation of the law, and would necessitate making large additional provisions for the insane poor, since the amount of space for the insane poor, since the amount of space occupied by the wealthy private or pay patients is out of proportion to that occupied by the insane poor. Frequently it is as high as six to one, sometimes as high as twelve to one. Over and beyond the question of the recognition of one particular school of medicine by the State to the exclusion of the others, the broad question remains of how far the State is to make provision for of its citizens as are able to make provision for themselves, how far it is willing to compete with the efforts of private individuals, who are permitted and in fact encouraged by law to operate and maintain private insane asylums.

Let it be repeated that the passage of this bill will confer privileges which the institution never before enjoyed, and which an examination of the statutes heretofore enacted will clearly show were never intended to be given. It hardly seems credible that the great body of the homeopathic medical profession desire to be relieved from their share of the responsibility of caring for the insane, or to be given privileges which cannot be exercised in an equal degree by the other medical schools of the State.  MEDICUS.
BUFFALO, Sunday, April 12, 1891.

SOURCE: Reprinted from The New York Times. Published April 19, 1891. Copyright @ The New York Times.

1894 Attendant Suspended at Buffalo State Hospital

Another Story of Alleged Cruelty at the Buffalo State Hospital.

BUFFALO, N.Y., May 26. – John J. Clifford, an attendant at the Buffalo State Hospital, has been suspended by the Board of Managers pending the action of Acting District Attorney Kendrick in the Felton case.

Clifford is the man whom Attendant Mahoney swore to have seen in Killen’s company just before Felton was assaulted. Mahoney swore before the State Lunacy Commission that Killen went into the next ward and got Clifford; that they came back together, and shortly after he heard Felton crying: “Boys, what have I done?”

Mrs. Jacob Loeb has a sad story to tell regarding the treatment of her son Fred at the hospital. He was confined in July. When taken to the hospital he was a tall, powerfully-built young man, whose mind had been unhinged by misfortune. A few days after his incarceration he was confined to his bed, where he remained in a deplorable condition for months. For a long time his friends were not allowed to see him, and when at last they gained access to his bedside they say they found him a mass of bruises and helpless as a babe. “They hung me up with a towel and pounded me,” he told his mother. Since his release he has spoken but a few words. Several times, however, he has said, when complaining of pains in his chest: “They used me hard out there.”

Buffalo State Hospital

Buffalo State Hospital

SOURCE: The New York Times. Published May 27, 1894. Copyright @ The New York Times.

Photo – City of Buffalo, New York Website

1881 Brutal Attendants At Buffalo State Hospital

A Story Of Cruelty From The State Asylum At Buffalo.

BUFFALO, Feb. 6. – A story of terrible cruelties practiced upon patients at the new State Insane Asylum here has been made public to-day, for which Frank P. Churchill, of this city, formerly a keeper, is responsible. He claims to have resigned on account of these practices, and says they were carried on by two men names Jones and McMichael whom Dr. Andrews, Medical Superintendent, brought with him from Utica. He says that John Turney, a monomaniac, was choked with towels so severely tha they had to blow in his mouth to restore consciousness. Being noisy one day while bathing, McMichael held his head under water until he was almost drowned, and pounded him on the stomach until a bunch was raised as large as a hen’s egg. They would go into his room at night and pound and kick him for the slightest disturbance. At one time Jones pressed both thumbs against his windpipe and jammed him into a chair with such violence that the back of the chair made two large holes in the wall. Another object of cruelty was Abraham Vedder, who was apt to be fractious at times. As a result of their attentions, he appeared on day with one eye blackened, the skin peeled off his throat, and the pit of his stomach black and blue. A railroad conductor named White, who was harmless, but so nervous as to be unable to keep quiet, was pounded by McMichael until he cried out, “My God, my God, don’t kill me.” If a man was slow in entering the dining-room he would be knocked down, kicked, and cursed in the vilest manner. A man named Vedder, from Alden, went to Jones and threatened to report if the abuse did not cease, and Jones frightened him from telling, by threatening to pound him to death. None of these things were done when Dr. Andrews was about, but Churchill claims to have frequently reported these things to him, and that the Doctor said he must be mistaken, as he had the fullest confidence in Jones and McMichael.

SOURCE: Reprinted from The New York Times. Published February 7, 1881. Copyright @ The New York Times.

Commissioner Ordronaux
Recommends The Discharge Of The Accused Attendants.

BUFFALO, March 2. – The State Commissioner in Lunacy has rendered the following decision in regard to alleged abuses in the Buffalo State Insane Asylum:

To the Managers of the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane:

Gentlemen having been requested by your board to make inquiry into the truth of certain allegations of Frank P. Churchill, late an attendant at your asylum, charging that two fellow-attendants, named Robert H. Jones and J.F. McMichael, had, to his personal knowledge, habitually maltreated patients confided to their care, the Commissioner submits herewith the findings and conclusions to which he has arrived after a careful consideration of the same. The organic act of the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane lodges in its Board of Managers the original power of control over all the property and concerns of the institution not otherwise provided for by law, and it is made their duty to take charge of its general interest, and to see that its great design be carried into effect and everything done faithfully according to the requirements of the Legislature and the by-laws, rules, and regulations of the asylum. Among these prerogatives is the power of employing and discharging servants, prescribing their duties, and otherwise regulating the domestic service of that institution. A request on your part to the Commissioner in Lunacy for an inquiry into this service is to that extent a surrender o the territory of your proper jurisdiction. Moreover, no formal complaint having been made to the Commissioner against any department of your administration, and no evidence having been laid before him furnishing any ground for his further official interference, the action of the Commissioner in the premises and under these circumstances becomes, strictly speaking, advisory rather than judicial.

The publicity of this inquiry, added to the fact that the evidence received is spread before the public in the files of the daily press, renders it unnecessary for the Commissioner either to refer to it in detail of to weigh its probative force under the rules regulating the value of legal proofs. Besides which this evidence, by reason of its conflicting character, presents no preponderance in favor of either side, and the charges remain not sufficiently established to warrant any affirmative decision upon their truth. It is manifest, however, from the very nature of the guardianship exercised over lunatics in asylums, that attendants who are in constant and immediate appendance upon patients should be free from any taint of suspicion. In these peculiar positions of trust the character of every person implicated in allegations of this kind and brought into the field of public inquiry, although sufficient proof has not been adduced to justify a conviction, yet suffers in public estimation from the fact alone that the evidence is conflicting. Where such evidence, therefore, leaves the presumptions equally in question the effect nevertheless operates to the public discredit of the parties concerned and their services should, in the Commissioner’s judgment, be dispensed with for prudential reasons. I am, very respectfully yours, John Ordronaux, State Commissioner in Lunacy.

SOURCE: Reprinted from The New York Times. Published March 3, 1881. Copyright @ The New York Times.

Buffalo State Hospital

Buffalo State Hospital


BUFFALO, N.Y., March 18. – The Assembly sub-committee appointed to investigate the charges of abuse at the State Insane Asylum arrived here and was in session to-day. The testimony of Dr. Andrews was taken, and a visit made to the asylum. All the evidence given before Dr. Ordronaux’s investigation will be reviewed, as the members of the committee express themselves determined to get a the bottom facts of the case.

SOURCE: Reprinted from The New York Times. Published March 19, 1881. Copyright @ The New York Times.

Kirkbride Buildings – Buffalo State Hospital

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.

1915 State Charities Aid Association News

The State Charities Aid Association, S.C.A.A., was founded in 1872. The S.C.A.A. inspected all charitable institutions that included all New York State Hospitals, Custodial Institutions for the Feeble-Minded, Prisons, Tuberculosis Hospitals, County Poor Houses, Polio Clinics, Houses of Refuge, and Orphanages. Charity Organization Societies (COS), were part of the “scientific charity movement” that began in the late nineteenth century. S.C.A.A. News, Volumes 3-11, 1915 through 1923 is a TREASURE TROVE of information and photographs!











“Brief Facts About State Charities Aid Association:

The object of the State Charities Aid Association, which is a voluntary body of citizens of New York State, is to improve conditions in public institutions and to promote public health and child care.

It is an incorporated body, State-wide, but without State aid.

Its budget is about $329,000 a year, and is met by voluntary contributions.

It has 12,000 members; it has local committees in every county. Its volunteer visitors visit and inspect all public institutions. The Association employs abut 95 persons in its Central Office, and about 20 in the field. It devotes itself to the following objects:

Finding homes for destitute or orphaned children.

Assisting mothers with babies.

Preventing mental disorders and securing better care for the mentally sick and defective.

Visiting public institutions in order to improve conditions, to promote with welfare and comfort of patients and inmates.

Helping to provide suitable occupations for sick persons in hospitals and institutions.

Assisting in securing wise laws about public health, care of the sick, institutions, and the expenditure of public funds for these purposes.”
SOURCE: S.C.A.A. News, Published Monthly by The State Charities Aid Association, 105 East 22nd Street, New York, N.Y., Volume X, No. 9, June, 1922, Page 13.

1872 Miss Louisa Lee Schuyler – The State Charities Aid Association.



















1893 State Hospital Cadavers

For those of you looking for ancestors buried in Anonymous Graves at Unmarked State Hospital and Custodial Institution Cemeteries, you may never find them.

Chapter 661, Laws 1893. Sec. 207. CADAVERS.
The persons having lawful control and management of any hospital, prison, asylum, morgue or other receptacle for corpses not interred, and every undertaker or other person having in his lawful possession any such corpse for keeping or burial may deliver and he is required to deliver, under the conditions specified in this section, every such corpse in their or his possession, charge, custody or control, not placed therein by relatives or friends, in the usual manner for keeping or burial, to the Medical Colleges of the State authorized by law to confer the degree of Doctor of medicine and to any university of the State having a medical preparatory course of instruction and the professors and teachers in every such college or university may receive any such corpse and use it for the purpose of medical study. No corpse shall be so delivered or received if desired for interment by relatives or friends within forty-eight hours after death, or if known to have relatives or friends; or of a person who shall have expressed a desire in his last illness that his body be interred, but the same shall be buried in the usual manner. If the remains of any person so delivered or received shall be subsequently claimed by any relative or friend, they shall be given up to such a relative or friend for interment. Any person claiming any corpse or remains for interment as provided in this section may be required by the persons, college, university or officer or agent thereof, in whose possession, charge or custody the same may be to present an affidavit stating that he is such relative or friend, and the facts and circumstances upon which the claim that he is such relative or friend is based, the expense of which affidavit shall be paid by the persons requiring it. If such person shall refuse to make such affidavit, such corpse or remains shall not be delivered to him but he shall forfeit his claim and right to the same. Any such medical college or university desiring to avail itself of the provisions of this section shall notify such persons having the control and management of the institutions and places heretofore specified, and such undertakers and other persons having any such corpse in their possession, custody or control in the county where such college or university is situated, and in any adjoining county in which no medical college is situated, of such desire, and thereafter all such persons shall notify the proper officers of such college or university whenever there is any coipse in their possession, custody or control, which may be delivered to a medical college or university under this section, and shall deliver the same to such college or university. If two or more medical colleges located in one county are entitled to receive corpses from the same county or adjoining counties, they shall receive the same in proportion to the number of matriculated students in each college. The professors and teachers in every college or university receiving any corpse under this section shall dispose of the remains thereof, after they have served the purposes of medical science and study, in accordance with the regulations of the local board of health where the college or university is situated. Every person neglecting to comply with or violating any provision of this section, shall forfeit to the local board of health where such non-compliance or violation occurred, the sum of twenty-five dollars for every such non-compliance or violation, to be sued for by the health officer of such place, and when recovered to be paid over, less the costs and expenses of the action, to such board for its use and benefit.”
SOURCE: Contributions From The Pathological Institute Of The New York State Hospitals, Volumes I and II, 1896-1897, State Hospital Press, Utica, New York, 1898, Pages 127-128.

1856 Insanity As A Defense

The Trial of Charles B. Huntington, spelled Huntingdon by The New York Times, is interesting because it was one of the first trials where insanity was introduced as a defense. Drs. C.R. Gilman and Willard Parker, were called to testify on behalf of the accused. With 27 indictments from the grand jury, Mr. Huntington was charged with forgery, duping a half million dollars or more from Wall Street Investors. His defense counsel, James T. Brady and John A. Bryan, admitted his guilt but stated that he suffered from “Moral Insanity,” which was “an insanity developed in reference to the moral nature, rather than the purely intellectual processes.” The defense went on to state that, “Whether the intellect may be generally intact and yet the affections, emotions, or will be impaired, is a question about which learned investigators differ. But none of those who deserve or enjoy any reputation doubt that insanity-as a physical disease of the brain-may be manifested, exclusively, in developments affecting the moral part of our nature.” (1)

The two expert witnesses, Alienists, an old term for modern-day Psychiatrists, examined Mr. Huntington and stated that he suffered from Monomania, a term that is no longer used, but in today’s terms might be compared to Obsessive Compulsive Behavior, which is basically an obsession with one idea, thing or subject. The Prosecution for the State of New York, District Attorney A. Oakey Hall, with William Curtis Noyes, rejected this line of defense saying that Mr. Huntington was a career criminal. Elisha S. Capron, City Judge of New York City Court, presided over the trial. The jurors were: Charles H. Groves, Morris L. Samuel, William Holme, John Nicholson, George Lazarus, Robert T. Newcomb, Henry Pincus, Joseph Cristadoro, William H. Kipp, William Wood, William H. Dayton, and James P. Kinsey. They found Mr. Huntington guilty of forgery and he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Included below are the links to many of the original newspaper accounts. They are quite lengthy. The descriptions of people and their actions in “Mr. Huntingdon’s Effects Under The Hammer” and “More Insanity” are very entertaining. Some of the words and dollar amounts used in these articles were illegible and some I simply didn’t understand in which case, you will see a question mark next to the word or dollar amount.

NEW-YORK CITY. Mr. Huntingdon’s Effects Under The Hammer.
The costly collection of Dresden China vases, Parian marble groups and statuettes, ormolu ornaments, bad pictures with ponderous gilt frames, immense pier glasses, elegantly carved rosewood furniture, beautiful service of plate, general ginercrackery?, and a considerable quantity of household goods, with which MR. HUNTINGDON (that celebrated financier who forgot prudence in success, and consequently found himself suddenly stowed away one fine morning in a cell in the Tombs) had crammed his late residence, No. 86 East Twenty-second-street, were sold in an auction yesterday by HENRY H. LEEDS. The notice of the sale attracted a large crowd of people. Everybody seemed anxious to obtain a souvenir of the distinguished though fallen operator. The natural consequence of this was a very brisk competition, especially for the merely ornamental articles. The crowd was always greater in the parlors and drawing-rooms than in the bed-rooms or kitchen. The moment the auctioneer announced his intention to proceed to sell the goods in one of the former a horrific rush to it occurred, and it was crammed almost to suffocation before he could reach the door. The throng crushed, and pushed, and elbowed, and shouldered, and squeezed one another in utter defence of all the rules of polite intercourse and conventional gallantry. In one corner you might observe an old lady of remarkable rotundity-(that being a very frequent characteristic of the female contingent of the assemblage)-flattened against the wall by a lank young gentleman with very red eyes, her bonnet crushed to one side and her face red as a lobster, in the vain struggle to push him aside. Elsewhere, a slim female of dubious age and very long nose, on which her gold spectacles were set ludierously awry, would request, in a tone of studied calmness, the stout gentleman tramping on her toes, to move off, and, in a loud voice, express her astonishment that people who had no business there would insist on forcing themselves in places where they were not wanted. Here a weak-minded gentleman, prompted in all his bids by his wife and daughter, who held him a close prisoner, would writhe about in torment when the solid crowd, in its irregular heavings, caused his nearest neighbors to trample on his corns. There, a careworn-looking young man, just about to commence housekeeping, would be thrust against a young lady who had been separated in the universal crush from her “pa” or “ma,” and would apologize with a sickly smile? for his inevitable trespass. Here, a thin-legged swell in pursuit of the marble Venuses in puris naturalibus for which the brilliant HUNTINGDON was supposed to have an excessive penchant, would cast contemptuous glances through his quizzing glass on the heavy? old bachelor beside him, who made a bid for everything, and would have had no hesitation, if HUNTINGDON had been hung, in paying $1,000 for the rope. In another corner a stern dowager, in black, would figet about at every shove she got, and anxiously slip? her hand on her pocket to find if her porte-morale had been abstracted.

The sale began at 10 1/2 o’clock and lasted until six. The articles of least use brought comparatively the highest prices. A towel rack, for instance, sold at $1 121/2?, a China foot tub for $4, a pair of excellent window-shades for 62 1/2? cents each, and an admirable velvet carpet for $1 321/2? cents a yard, whereas an ormolu vase and shad was knocked down at $35, and a parlor suite of furniture, consisting of a sofa, a tete-a-tete, two arm and four parlor chairs, at $390. A carved open-work center table with marble top, went at $90, a rosewood etagere at $250, a rosewood encoignure? at $70, a mantel glass at $120, a bronze gas chandelier at $49, an indifferent painting of “The Deer by the Lake,” at $75, a small rosewood bookcase by BELTES, richly carved, at $160, and a pair of China spittoons at $330?…”
To read the rest of this article: NEW-YORK CITY. Mr. Huntingdon’s Effects Under The Hammer, November 5, 1856, Published November 6, 1856

Trial of Charles B. Huntingdon for Forgery. Extraordinary Phase of the Huntingdon Trial. – Our criminal report, this morning, opens one of the most extraordinary chapters in the whole history of criminal jurisprudence. The counsel of HUNTINGDON, on trial for forgery, concede the fact of his guilt,–acknowledge everything alleged in the indictment,–exaggerate to the greatest possible extent the criminal acts of their client,–and swell the amount of his forged paper to the incredible sum of Twenty Millions of Dollars,–for the purpose of setting up the plea of–Insanity!

We publish a verbatim report of the speech of the prisoner’s counsel in entering upon this novel and most extraordinary line of defence. It has evidently been prepared with care, and is the result of deliberate and protracted consultation on the part of the eminent lawyers who are acting for the defence. Indeed, Mr. BRYAN states, in the speech, that this line of argument was adopted only as a last resort:–that, after studying the whole case, his counsel told HUNTINGDON that there was no possibility of his escape,–that the proof was too clear, and too overwhelming, to leave the remotest chance of an acquittal, and that the best thing he could do would be to plead guilty, and throw himself on the mercy of the Court. This, however, he refused to do, and persisted in the declaration of his innocence and of the certainty of his acquittal. His apparent insensibility to his position, and the strange pertinacity with which he denied his guilt, staggered his counsel, and finally led them to fall back upon a chance remark dropped by a witness, and repeated by the Justice, that he believed HUNTINGDON was crazy. They have accordingly taken this as the line of their defence,–and will do everything in their power to convince the Jury that he is not morally responsible for his acts.

It is confessed that HUNTINGDON’S insanity is not of a species recognized in books of medical jurisprudence. A new kind of insanity is invented for his particular case. It is styled a monomania for forgery,–a species of insanity which impelled him to commit act of forgery without any motive, except the desire to handle large sums of money, and without taking any of the ordinary precautions to prevent discovery. A very curious and interesting narrative is given of HUNTINGDON’S early life and entire career up to the present time, in which are included a great variety of particulars concerning his style of living,–the luxury of his furniture,–the speed of his horses, and the lavish scale of his expenditure generally. All this is intended to create the impression that he acted recklessly, without reflection, and in a way to indicate on his part an entire lack of prudence and common sense.

Everybody, of course, was taken by surprise upon hearing the declaration by the prisoner’s counsel of the line of defence they should adopt. What is likely to be its success must be matter of conjecture,–nor would it be quite proper, perhaps, at this stage of the proceedings, to canvass the merits of such a plea. It is very obvious, however, that if this new species of insanity is to obtain recognition, all such things as crimes will speedily disappear. We shall have monomania for murder, for theft, for rape, for arson, for every act indeed which is now deemed criminal, pleaded as a bar to conviction. The theory of the defence nullifies the idea of moral guilt, and resolves all crime into disease. Many speculative philosophers have indulged in the same views,–but they have never hitherto obtained recognition in our courts of justice. The speech of HUNTINGDON’S counsel will be found exceedingly interesting and worthy of persual.”
SOURCE: The New York Times. Published: December 20, 1856. Copyright @ The New York Times.

MORE INSANITY. – At this season of the year it will be prudent to guard against a general insanity which is developed among all classes; it manifests itself chiefly in an extravagant expectation of being complimented with a costly present, while in some it shows itself in a desire to give everything to everybody. Dealers in fancy articles manifest most alarming symptoms of insanity compared with which the financial operation of the insane HUNTINGDON were rational and business-like. They have an idea that nothing gives the public such satisfaction during the holiday season as paying three or four times the value of an article for the sake of making an extravagant present. We know an excited shopkeeper in Broadway, who says he finds it difficult to have sufficiently high priced articles for his customers. If he is not insane, his customers clearly must be.

But the EVENING POST relates an instance of insanity which is said to be prevalent in fashionable circles, which we had not before heard of. The POST says it is customary to hire costly wedding presents of the jewelers, and after they have been used to dazzle the eyes of the guests, and excite their envy at the happiness of the bride, to return them to the shop from which they were borrowed. There have been a good many magnificent weddings lately, which have been the talk of the town; but we hope their magnificence was not all bogus. Of course none but a hopelessly insane person would be guilty of such practices as the POST has exposed. It is time to enlarge our lunatic asylums.”
SOURCE: The New York Times. Published: December 22, 1856. Copyright @ The New York Times

CONVICTION AND SENTENCE OF HUNTINGDON. – It would be an affectation of maudlin sentimentalism, if we expressed any other opinion in reference to the conviction of HUNTINGDON, than that of satisfaction; and we believe that the public at large will feel relieved from an impending disgrace by knowing that the ends of justice have been fulfilled in his sentence. We have no disposition to exult over the debasement of a fellow creature; but the monstrous frauds of this man were so undeniable, he had, apparently, been rioting in his extravagant course of wickedness, because he imagined that the Law could not reach such dashing villany as his, that when his counsel set up the defence of insanity, it was felt to be an outrage upon the public. If he had been exonerated from the consequences of his gigantic forgeries on the ground of insanity, or even if the Jury had not been able to agree upon a verdict, it would not only have had a damaging effect upon public morals, but it would have been a disgrace to our whole community. Happily, we have been spared such a result. It has long been a reproach to us that a wealthy rogue could not be convicted in our Courts; but the conviction and prompt sentence of HUNTINGDON will do something toward effacing this stain upon our character. The remarkable course pursued by the defence in attempting to establish the insanity of the prisoner by proving how irreclaimably bad he had been from his boyhood, deprives him of all claim upon the sympathies of the public; and if society congratulate itself upon being rid of a most dangerous character, of whose reformation there could be no reasonable hope, the fault must be laid at the door of his own counsel.”
SOURCE: The New York Times. Published: December 31, 1856. Copyright @ The New York Times.

Trial of Charles B. Huntingdon for Forgery-Twenty-Seven Indictments Against Him – First Day’s Proceedings, December 16, 1856, Published December 17, 1856

Trial of Charles B. Huntingdon for Forgery-Second Day, December 17, 1856, Published December 18,1856

The Trial of Charles B. Huntingdon, Third Day, December 18, 1856, Published December 19, 1856.

Trial of Charles B. Huntingdon for Forgery, Mr. Brady’s Address for the Defence, Monday, December 29, 1856, Published December 30, 1856

The Trial of Charles B. Huntingdon for Forgery, Conclusion of Mr. Noyes’ Address for the Prosecution, Charge of the Judge, Conviction and Sentence of the Prisoner, Published December 31, 1856.

1. Trial Of Charles B. Huntington For Forgery. Principal Defence: Insanity. Prepared For Publication By The Defendant’s Counsel, From Full Stenographic Notes Taken By Messrs. Roberts & Warburton, Law Reporters. New York: John S. Voorhies, Law Bookseller and Publisher. No. 20 Nassau Street. 1857. Page viii.

1920 Margaret Sanger & Eugenics

“While there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.” Margaret Sanger – 1920.

Margaret Sanger and Her Sons.

Margaret Sanger and Her Sons.

October 17, 2013, marked the 97th Birthday of Planned Parenthood. I would not have known about this event if not for the fact that I am guilty of being a Facebook user. In 1916, Margaret Sanger, a nurse and Progressive Activist, opened a clinic in Brooklyn, New York, to provide women with health education on Birth Control, prevention of venereal diseases, and the use of prophylactics. It is hard for us in the 21st Century to understand why information about contraception was illegal, but it was. The Comstock Law of 1873 “was a federal law that made it a crime to sell or distribute materials that could be used for contraception or abortion, to send such materials or information about such materials through the federal mail system, or to import such materials from abroad.” My particular beef with all the fanfare about what a great woman Margaret Sanger was is the fact that virtually all bloggers intentionally left out the fact that she was a fervent supporter of the Eugenics Movement in the United States who advocated for the FORCED STERILIZATION of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood

Was it a good thing to educate women and men about contraception? Yes. Was Margaret Sanger‘s intent to educate women based on the belief that she cared so deeply for them? No. Margaret Sanger was appalled and disgusted by the lower classes, the newly arrived immigrants, prostitutes, mentally ill, blind, crippled, developmentally disabled, and criminal types. Her intent was to rid these defective, delinquent, and dependent people from the American Melting Pot once and for all in order to produce a hearty, healthy, literate breed of educated Americans who would only bring children into this world that they could support and who didn’t drain the economy. She saw the devastation and mutilation to women’s bodies by self-inflicted and botched abortions and thought that abortion itself was barbaric; that an educated society would never need to resort to such drastic measures. She’s probably rolling over in her grave.



Was Margaret Sanger a great woman? You decide. As always, I present the facts and the historical documents for you to read for yourself. To learn more about this issue, click on the RED links below.

“The American Birth Control League, Margaret Sanger, President

The complex problems now confronting America as the result of the practice of reckless procreation are fast threatening to grow beyond human control. Everywhere we see poverty and large families going hand in hand. Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly. People who cannot support their own offspring are encouraged by Church and State to produce large families. Many of the children thus begotten are diseased or feeble-minded; many become criminals. The burden of supporting these unwanted types has to be borne by the healthy elements of the nation. Funds that should be used to raise the standard of our civilization are diverted to the maintenance of those who should never have been born. In addition to this grave evil we witness the appalling waste of women’s health and women’s lives by too frequent pregnancies. These unwanted pregnancies often provoke the crime of abortion, or alternatively multiply the number of child workers and lower the standard of living. To create a race of well-born children it is essential that the function of motherhood should be elevated to a position of dignity, and this is impossible as long as conception remains a matter of chance.

We hold that children should be
1. Conceived in love;
2. Born of the mother’s conscious desire;
3. And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health.

Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied. Every mother must realize her basic position in human society. She must be conscious of her responsibility to the race in bringing children into the world. Instead of being a blind and haphazard consequence of uncontrolled instinct, motherhood must be made the responsible and self-directed means of human expression and regeneration. These purposes, which are of fundamental importance to the whole of our nation and to the future of mankind, can only be attained if women first receive practical scientific education in the means of Birth Control. That, therefore, is the first object to which the efforts of this League will be directed.

AIMS: THE AMERICAN BIRTH CONTROL LEAGUE aims to enlighten and educate all sections of the American public in the various aspects of the dangers of uncontrolled procreation and the imperative necessity of a world program of Birth Control. The League aims to correlate the findings of scientists, statisticians, investigators and social agencies in all fields. To make this possible, it is necessary to organize various departments:

RESEARCH: To collect the findings of scientists, concerning the relation of reckless breeding to delinquency, defect and dependence.

INVESTIGATION: To derive from these scientifically ascertained facts and figures, conclusions which may aid all public health and social agencies in the study of problems of maternal and infant mortality, child-labor, mental and physical defects and delinquence in relation to the practice of reckless parentage.

HYGIENIC AND PHYSIOLOGICAL instruction by the Medical profession to mothers and potential mothers in harmless and reliable methods of Birth Control in answer to their requests for such knowledge.

STERILIZATION of the insane and feeble-minded and the encouragement of this operation upon those afflicted with inherited or transmissible diseases, with the understanding that sterilization does not deprive the individual of his or her sex expression, but merely renders him or her incapable of producing children.

EDUCATIONAL: The program of education includes: The enlightenment of the public at large, mainly through the education of leaders of thought and opinion—teachers, ministers, editors and writers—to the moral and scientific soundness of the principles of Birth Control and the imperative necessity of its adoption as the basis of national and racial progress.

POLITICAL AND LEGISLATIVE: To enlist the support and co-operation of legal advisors, statesmen and legislators in effecting the removal of state and federal statutes which encourage dysgenic breeding, increase the sum total of disease, misery and poverty and prevent the establishment of a policy of national health nd strength.

ORGANIZATION: To send into the various States of the Union field workers to enlist the support and arouse the interest of the masses to the importance of Birth Control so that laws may be changed and the establishment of clinics made possible in every State.

INTERNATIONAL: This department aims to co-operate with similar organizations in other countries to study Birth Control in its relations to the world population problem, food supplies, national and racial conflicts, and to urge upon all international bodies organized to promote world peace, the consideration of these aspects of international amity.” SOURCE: Birth Control Review, Volumes 5-6, 1920, Page 162.

Captive Mother by Stephen Sinding.

Captive Mother by Stephen Sinding.

The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda by Margaret Sanger

“[The following brief statement of the dependence of any sound and effective program of Eugenics upon BIRTH CONTROL, in view of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, recently held in New York at the Museum of Natural History, assumes a peculiar timeliness.]

Seemingly every new approach to the great problem of the human race must manifest its vitality by running the gauntlet of prejudice, ridicule and misinterpretation. Eugenists may remember that not many years ago this program for race regeneration was subjected to the cruel ridicule of stupidity and ignorance. Today Eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems. The most intransigeant and daring teachers and scientists have lent their support to this great biological interpretation of the human race. The war has emphasized its necessity.

The doctrine of BIRTH CONTROL is now passing through the stage of ridicule, prejudice and misunderstanding. A few years ago this new weapon of civilization and freedom was condemned as immoral, destructive, obscene. Gradually the criticisms are lessening-understanding is taking the place of misunderstanding. The eugenic and civilizational value of BIRTH CONTROL is becoming apparent to the enlightened and the intelligent.

In the limited space of the present paper, I have time only to touch upon some of the fundamental convictions that form the basis of our BIRTH CONTROL propaganda, and which, as I think you must agree, indicate that the campaign for BIRTH CONTROL is not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal with the final aims of Eugenics.

First: We are convinced that racial regeneration, like individual regeneration, must come “from within.” That is, it must autonomous, self-directive, and not imposed from without. In other words, every potential parent, and especially every potential mother, must be brought to an acute realization of the primary and central responsibility of bringing children into this world.

Secondly: Not until the parents of the world are thus given control over their reproductive faculties will it ever be possible not alone to improve the quality of the generations of the future, but even to maintain civilization even at its present level. Only by self-control of this type, only by intelligent mastery of the procreative powers can the great mass of humanity be awakened to the great responsibility of parenthood.

Thirdly: We have come to the conclusion, based on widespread investigation and experience, that this education for parenthood must be based upon the needs and demands of the people themselves. An idealistic code of sexual ethics, imposed from above, a set of rules devised by high-minded theorists who fail to take into account the living conditions and desires of the submerged masses, can never be of the slightest value in effecting any changes in the mores of the people. Such systems have in the past revealed their woeful inability to prevent the sexual and racial chaos into which the world has today drifted.

The almost universal demand for practical education in BIRTH CONTROL is one of the most hopeful signs that the masses themselves today possess the diving spark of regeneration. It remain for the courageous and the enlightened to answer this demand, to kindle the spark, to direct a thorough education in Eugenics based upon this intense interest.

BIRTH CONTROL propaganda is thus the entering wedge for the Eugenic educator. In answering the needs of these thousands upon thousands of submerged mothers, it is possible to use this interest as the foundation for education in prophylaxis, sexual hygiene, and infant welfare. The potential mother is to be shown that maternity need not be slavery but the most effective avenue toward self-development and self-realization. Upon this basis only may we improve the quality of the race.

As an advocate of BIRTH CONTROL, I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the “unfit” and the “fit,” admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation to the mentally and physically fit though less fertile parents of the educated and well-to-do classes. On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the overfertility of the mentally and physically defective.

BIRTH CONTROL is not advanced as a panacea by which past and present evils of dysgenic breeding can be magically eliminated. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupidly cruel sentimentalism.

But to prevent the repetition, to effect the salvation of the generations of the future-nay of the generations of today-our greatest need is first of all the ability to face the situation without flinching, and to cooperate in the formation of a code of sexual ethics based upon a thorough biological and psychological understanding of human nature; and then to answer the questions and the needs of the people with all the intelligence and honestly at our command. If we can summon the bravery to do this, we shall best be serving the true interests of Eugenics, because our work will then have a practical and pragmatic value.”
SOURCE: The Birth Control Review, Dedicated To Voluntary Motherhood, Margaret Sanger, Editor, Volume V., No.10, October 1921, Page 5 (43).

Propaganda – 1. Information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
2. The deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
3. The particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement. (1)

Race Suicide – The extinction of a race or people that tends to result when, through the unwillingness or forbearance of its members to have children, the birthrate falls below the death rate. (1)

Infanticide – The practice of killing newborn infants. (1)

Abortion – Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy. (1)

Feticide – The act of destroying a fetus or causing an abortion. (1)

Eugenics – Selective breeding. The study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics). (1)

Birth Control – Voluntary limitation or control of the number of children conceived, especially by planned use of contraceptive techniques. (1)

Privation – 1. Loss or lack of the necessities of life, such as food and shelter.
2. Hardship resulting from this. 3.The state of being deprived. (1)

Progressive Movement – A movement for reform that occurred roughly between 1900 and 1920. Progressives typically held that irresponsible actions by the rich were corrupting both public and private life. They called for measures such as trust busting, the regulation of railroads, provisions for the people to vote on laws themselves through referendum, the election of the Senate by the people rather than by state legislatures, and a graduated income tax (one in which higher tax rates are applied to higher incomes). The Progressives were able to get much of their program passed into law. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were associated with the movement. (1)

Prophylactic – A protective measure against disease. A device, usually a rubber sheath, used to prevent conception or venereal infection; condom. (1)

Venereal Disease – Any of various diseases, such as syphilis or gonorrhoea, transmitted by sexual intercourse. (1)

Neo-Malthusian – Designating, or pertaining to, a group of modern economists who hold to the Malthusianism doctrine that permanent betterment of the general standard of living is impossible without decrease of competition by limitation of the number of births. (2)

SOURCES: 1. Dictionary.com, 2. Fine Dictionary.com.

Additional Reading:

Woman And The New Race by Margaret Sanger, 1920.

The Birth Control Review, Volumes 1-3.

Birth Control Review, Volumes 5-6.

The Trend Of The Race by Samuel J. Holmes, 1921.

Definitions In Political Economy by Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus, 1827.

An Essay On The Principle Of Population by Rev. T.R. Malthus, 1888.

Studies In The Psychology Of Sex by Havelock Ellis, Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company, Publishers, 1922.

Planned Parenthood 2013.

1907 Eugenics.

1912-1920 Eugenics in New York State.

1922 Eugenics New York State.

1809-1883 Thomas Story Kirkbride

In 1854, Thomas Story Kirkbride published his widely read book, On The Construction, Organization and General Arrangements Of Hospitals For The Insane. If you’ve ever done any research on historical insane asylums, you have probably heard the term, “Kirkbride Buildings.” This book or manual, was used as the blueprint on how to correctly construct and arrange hospitals for the mentally ill during the nineteenth century. Dr. Kirkbride was a visionary leader in the early, formative years of psychiatry who advocated for “Moral Treatment,” which was the belief that patients should be treated with kindness and sympathetic care. He encouraged the use of the term “hospital” and discouraged the use of the terms “asylum” and “lunatic.” New York State did not adopt the term “hospital” for all its asylums for the insane until 1890, 36 years after the book was published. Dr. Kirkbride also recommended that hospitals for the insane should not exceed 250 patients, which, as we all know, was never followed and is probably the reason why they failed so miserably. The following two excerpts will give you some insight into the man and his accomplishments. To read the books in their entirety, click on the RED links below.

“During the last four years of his life he was an invalid, and, at the early part of that period, death seemed so near that all preparations were made in anticipation of that event, but he was permitted to enjoy a period of nearly three years of comparative health, but not with the return of his physical strength, and about nine months before the end came he was taken down, and was so reduced that only for a short period was he able to go about without assistance.

Thomas Story Kirkbride

Thomas Story Kirkbride – July 31, 1809 to December 16, 1883.

He continued to manifest the same earnest interest in all matters pertaining to the care of the insane, and his mind continued clear and free until the closing time which came shortly before midnight of December 16, 1883. His mortal part was laid to rest in Laurel Hill Cemetery on a bleak December day, but his spirit had entered into the ” rest that remaineth.”

At a special meeting of the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital, held December 17, 1883, the following was unanimously adopted:

This Board, having received with sincere sorrow, the intelligence of the death of Dr. Thomas S. Kirkbride, Physician-in-chief and Superintendent of the Insane Department of this Hospital, desire to place on their records some fitting and grateful tribute to his memory, both for his great services to the institution over which he so long and ably presided, and for his high character and worth as a man. Dr. Kirkbride’s first connection with our Hospital was in 1833, when he was elected as a Resident Physician in the Pine Street Hospital, in which capacity he served most acceptably until 1835. When the Insane Department of our Hospital was removed to its present site in West Philadelphia, in 1841, Dr. Kirkbride was elected the first Physician-in-chief and Superintendent of that Institution. At this date there was but one hospital building for both male and female patients. In 1859, a new Hospital was constructed for male patients only, female patients being retained in the Hospital first erected, and from thenceforth both were under his care.

From his election to the post above designated, until his death, Dr. Kirkbride has been continuously elected to office as the head of the Department for the Insane, without suggestion or thought, either on the part of the Managers of the Hospital or the public, that a more efficient or faithful administrator of the duties of this important place could be found.

Dr. Kirkbride possessed in a remarkable degree the characteristics and qualities, intellectual and moral, to fit him for the position he so long held. To excellent medical training, and a great aptitude for that branch or specialty to which he devoted so much of his life, he added a nature full of sympathy for human suffering and affliction, great natural benevolence and kindness, rare administrative ability and great rectitude and moral worth. Possessed of those endowments, and with a heart full of zeal in his great work, and a keen insight into the needs of the patients brought under his care, his success in his professional work has been pre-eminent, and his usefulness to the community hard to estimate. It is, therefore,

Resolved, That by the death of Dr. Kirkbride, this Institution has lost a most faithful and efficient officer, whose untiring and welldirected labors for some forty years, have not only met with the cordial approval and co-operation of this Board, but have wrought a high and enduring reputation for him, and for our Hospital for the Insane, over which he so long and ably presided.

Resolved, That Dr. Kirkbride’s works for the relief of the insane both in the administration of his office in our Institution, and by his contributions to medical literature upon the subject of insanity, and its proper treatment, entitle him to rank very high among the benefactors of his race.

Resolved, That by the death of Dr. Kirkbride we lose a friend, bound to us by uncommon ties of affection and esteem. No one could come within the range of his influence, without being made to feel that his rare endowments of head and heart were such as to attract the love and confidence of his fellow-men; and throughout his life he well deserved that love and confidence.

Resolved, That the Board will attend his funeral in a body, and that a copy of these resolutions, attested by the President and Secretary, be forwarded to the family of our departed friend.

William Biddle, President.
B. H. Shoemaker, Secretary.”

Memoir of Thomas S. Kirkbride, M.D. LL. D.

SOURCE: Memoir of Thomas S. Kirkbride, M.D., LL. D., Prepared by Direction of lthe Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane by John Curwen, M.D., Charles H. Nichols, M.D., John H. Callender, M.D., Warren, PA.: E. Cowan & Co., Printers, 1885, Pages 35-37.

Importance Of A Correct Nomenclature.

“The erroneous views of insanity formerly entertained, and the unfortunate modes of treatment which resulted from them, led to the adoption of terms which are now without meaning, and the continued use of which has an unfavorable influence on the best interests of the insane.

It seems especially desirable that this malady, now so much better appreciated by the whole civilized community than formerly, and the importance of the proper treatment of which is so generally admitted, should have every advantage that can result from a correct nomenclature. It is seldom that a disease so well recognized, so important and so prevalent, has had the misfortune to be called by so many ill-selected names, that have themselves tended to produce errors and confirm wrong impressions in the community.

Without any inclination to be hypercritical, it is proposed briefly to allude to some of these misnomers, which custom alone seems to have retained amongst us.

It must seem singular to any one who reflects on the subject, that the term “lunacy,” as applied to this disease, should still be retained as generally as it is by the community, by the medical profession, and even by some of the latter whose labors in this specialty have done so much to promote the best interests of a large class of sufferers. “Lunacy” and “lunatic” are terms which have no meaning in reference to the diseases of the mind, and originated from a popular belief in influences that have long since been shown to have no existence.

Both these terms are particularly objectionable from their very derivation, tending to give wrong impressions of the disease and to perpetuate popular errors. Prevalent as the idea may have been with our ancestors, that the insane were specially under the influence of the moon, it is hardly to be supposed that such a sentiment is now seriously entertained by any considerable number in or out of the medical profession. If such are to be found, they would scarcely claim so decided an effect from lunar influence as to make it a ground for giving a name to one of the most important diseases to which man is subject. “Lunatic” is put down, in one of our best modern medical dictionaries, as “moonstruck,” and such a term applied to a sick man or connected with an institution for the treatment of diseases of the brain, is certainly not in character with an age which puts forward so many just claims to be called one of progress. The fact that these terms are still used in law writings is no reason why they should be continued by the medical profession. If universally discarded by physicians, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the bar, with all its fondness for ancient terms, would ultimately reject names which, beyond their antiquity, have not a single claim for retention. As applied to individuals, they have become offensive from their ancient associations. The term “insanity,” which I conceive is the only proper name to apply to the disease under notice, is a correct one; it simply means unsoundness, is sufficiently common, and its import generally understood.

With all its distinguishing features, insanity has nothing about it to prevent its being ranked with other diseases. A functional disorder of the brain, it belongs to the same category as those of other organs. Prevailing at all ages, among all classes of civilized men, without regard to talent, fortune or profession, there would seem to be no sound reason why the institutions specially provided for its treatment should have names different from those that are prepared for the relief of the sick suffering from other maladies. It is of great importance to a correct appreciation of insanity by the community, that it should be generally understood, that, treated properly from its commencement, it is commonly a curable disease, and that when patients are sent from home to an institution, it is only that they may have advantages and chances for a restoration nowhere else to be obtained. It should also be impressed upon all, that cases of insanity, however chronic they may be, or however discouraging their symptoms, should still be regarded as worthy of attention, and demanding treatment, if we can do no more, to promote their comfort and happiness, and to keep active, as far and as long as we can, their mental and physical powers.

Institutions for the treatment of other diseases, even if incurable, are called Hospitals; no other term is so common or so well understood, and there is none so appropriate in every respect to those devoted exclusively to the treatment and care of the insane, and, in my estimation, they should be known by no other name.

The titles often applied to institutions for the insane have no appropriateness, even if they do not have a mischievous tendency. The object of their original introduction would seem to have been to give an impression that those who entered them were not sick, or did not come for treatment, or, if ill, that they suffered from some malady which bore no relation to the other diseases which affect our race, but rather that they came as to a place of refuge or security, as though they had committed some crime, or been banished from the sympathies as well as the presence of society. It is quite true that, appropriate as the name of Hospital is for the institutions provided for the treatment of the insane at the present day, it could hardly have been proper to have so called the receptacles into which they were often thrown, much less than a century ago, where those who had the strongest claims for the sympathy and kindly attentions of their fellow men, were chained and flogged and treated with a cruelty far beyond the lot of most criminals.

The term “Asylum,” still so common amongst us, seems to me to be open to all the objections that have been referred to, and ought to be abolished as having an undesirable influence, while its derivation and true meaning certainly do not offer any reason for its retention by any curative institution. It would be about as reasonable to have an Asylum for small pox, or fever, or dyspepsia, or any other disease, as for insanity. Ludicrous as it would appear to have an institution called a Febrile Asylum or a Rheumatic Asylum, it would really be as proper as to have what custom alone has familiarized us to—an Insane Asylum.

The arrangements of a Hospital for the Insane—which is a more euphonious, if not a more correct term than an Insanity Hospital—it is true, are different in many respects from those of ordinary hospitals; but that is no reason why the same name should not be applied to all. The details of a hospital for children, for fever, for contagious diseases, or diseases of the skin, may also vary in their character, without requiring a change in their principal title.

The term “Retreat,” is not less exceptionable than that of Asylum, and for the same reasons. They both originated from the best of motives, and have done good in their day, as helping to banish that awful name, “the Mad House,” which, of old, had so many real horrors connected with it, and the truthful pictures of which in England and on the Continent have made such an enduring impression on the minds of men, that most of the popular prejudices existing in reference to modern Hospitals for the Insane, although they have no single feature of resemblance, will be found to have originated from this source.

The names of “cells” and “keepers,” as applied to the chambers of the insane, and to their attendants, originated at a time when those who were suffering from insanity were often worse treated than convicted felons, and when those who had charge of them exhibited much less humanity than common jailers. Both terms belong to prisons, and no argument is needed to show that they ought never to be heard within the walls of buildings devoted to the relief of the afflicted.

If every one connected with the various establishments provided for the treatment of those suffering from mental disease, would on all occasions discard not only the terms “cells” and “keepers,” and “lunacy” and “lunatic,” but also those of “Asylums,” “Retreats,” and whatever other titles fancy may have suggested, and would call their institutions what they really are, Hospitals for the Insane, and let the disease treated in them be spoken of only as Insanity, the public would soon see the propriety of abandoning the terms to which exception has been taken, and that are in so many respects objectionable.

Few, if any, of those who have the immediate charge of the institutions for the insane in America, whose titles are deemed inappropriate, have had any agency in originating their names, and cannot, therefore, be held at all responsible for these unfortunate misnomers. Most of the new institutions commenced within the last few years in the United States are styled “Hospitals for the Insane,” and it is well worthy of consideration by those interested, whether it would not be worth an effort to induce those who have the power to change the titles of those previously established, so as to secure accuracy and uniformity among American institutions.


At a meeting of “The Association Of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions For The Insane,” held at Philadelphia, in May, 1851, the following series of propositions relative to the construction of Hospitals for the Insane, was unanimously adopted as the sentiments of that body on the subjects referred to; and, in like manner, at the meeting held in Baltimore, in 1852, the succeeding series of propositions in reference to the organization of these institutions was also adopted, and, with the former, directed to be published in the “American Journal of Insanity,” and to be appended to the annual reports of the different institutions:

 Propositions Relative To The Construction Of Hospitals For The Insane.

I. Every hospital for the insane should be in the country, not within less than two miles of a large town, and easily accessible at all seasons.

II. No hospital for the insane, however limited its capacity, should have less than fifty acres of land, devoted to gardens and pleasure grounds for its patients. At least one hundred acres should be possessed by every State hospital, or other institution for two hundred patients, to which number these propositions apply, unless otherwise mentioned.

III. Means should be provided to raise ten thousand gallons of water, daily, to reservoirs that will supply the highest parts of the building.

IV. No hospital for the insane should be built without the plan having been first submitted to some physician or physicians who have had charge of a similar establishment, or are practically acquainted with all the details of their arrangements, and received his or their full approbation.

V. The highest number that can with propriety be treated in one building is two hundred and fifty, while two hundred is a preferable maximum.

VI. All such buildings should be constructed of stone or brick, have slate or metallic roofs, and, as far as possible, be made secure from accidents by fire.

VII. Every hospital, having provision for two hundred or more patients, should have in it at least eight distinct wards for each sex, making sixteen classes in the entire establishment.

VIII. Each ward should have in it a parlor, a corridor, single lodging-rooms for patients, an associated dormitory, communicating with a chamber for two attendants; a clothes-room, a bath-room, a water-closet, a dining-room, a dumb-waiter, and a speaking-tube leading to the kitchen or other central part of the building.

IX. No apartments should ever be provided for the confinement of patients, or as their lodging-rooms, that are not entirely above ground.

X. No class of rooms should ever be constructed without some kind of window in each, communicating directly with the external atmosphere.

XI. No chamber for the use of a single patient should ever be less than eight by ten feet, nor should the ceiling of any story occupied by patients be less than twelve feet in height.

XII. The floors of patients’ apartments should always be of wood.

XIII. The stairways should always be of iron, stone, or other indestructible material, ample in size and number, and easy of ascent, to afford convenient egress in case of accident from fire.

XIV. A large hospital should consist of a main central building with wings.

XV. The main central building should contain the offices, receiving rooms for company, and apartments, entirely private, for the superintending physician and his family, in case that officer resides in the hospital building.

XVI. The wings should be so arranged that, if rooms are placed on both sides of a corridor, the corridors should be furnished at both ends with movable glazed sashes, for the free admission of both light and air.

XVII. The lighting should be by gas, on account of its convenience, cleanliness, safety, and economy.

XVIII. The apartments for washing clothing, &c., should be detached from the hospital building.

XIX. The drainage should be under ground, and all the inlets to the sewers should be properly secured to prevent offensive emanations.

XX. All hospitals should be warmed by passing an abundance of pure, fresh air from the external atmosphere, over pipes or plates, containing steam under low pressure, or hot water, the temperature of which at the boiler does not exceed 212° F., and placed in the basement or cellar of the building to be heated.

XXI. A complete system of forced ventilation, in connection with the heating, is indispensable to give purity to the air of a hospital for the insane; and no expense that is required to effect this object thoroughly can be deemed either misplaced or injudicious.

XXII. The boilers for generating steam for warming the building should be in a detached structure, connected with which may be the engine for pumping water, driving the washing apparatus, and other machinery.

XXIII. All water-closets should, as far as possible, be made of indestructible materials, be simple in their arrangements, and have a strong downward ventilation connected with them.

XXIV. The floors of bath-rooms, water-closets, and basement stories, should, as far as possible, be made of materials that will not absorb moisture.

XXV. The wards for the most excited class should be constructed with rooms on but one side of a corridor, not less than ten feet wide, the external windows of which should be large, and have pleasant views from them.

XXVI. Wherever practicable, the pleasure-grounds of a hospital for the insane, should be surrounded by a substantial wall, so placed as not to be unpleasantly visible from the building.”

On The Construction, Organization and General Arrangements of Hospitals For The Insane by Thomas S. Kirkbride, M.D.

SOURCE: On The Construction, Organization and General Arrangements of Hospitals For The Insane by Thomas S. Kirkbride, M.D., Physician to the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, Philadelphia, 1854, Pages 72-78.