Saving Money at the Insane Asylum

Patients Working in Laundry Room at Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1898

Patients Working in Laundry Room at Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1898

Most insane asylums tried to use patient labor as a way of holding down costs, or as a sort of occupational therapy. At the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, Dr. Harry Hummer had a real mission to hold down expenses, since he knew that his small facility didn’t have the economies of scale that larger institutions did.

Female patients generally worked on household tasks, like sewing and laundry. Susan Wishecoby, an epileptic patient, wrote about scrubbing the floors, and other women complained about the amount of work they had to do. Men usually worked in the gardens or helped with livestock. Dr. Hummer couldn’t actually force patients to work, but many did because it helped them pass the time. They may have also wanted to please the attendants or Dr. Hummer by appearing cooperative.

Patients Sewing at the Cherokee State Hospital for the Insane, early 1900s

Patients Sewing at the Cherokee State Hospital for the Insane, early 1900s

Patients Picking Cotton at Alabama Insane Hospital

Patients Picking Cotton at Alabama Insane Hospital

________________________________________________________________

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *