Though the superintendents at asylums undoubtedly read patients’ letters at times, they don’t seem to have censored or stopped them as any kind of universal practice. Many letters from patients to relatives and other people have survived, including letters from patients at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians.
Agnes Caldwell, a Menominee Indian from Keshena, WS, wrote frequently to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to ask for her release. On January 1, 1920, she wrote: “I got a letter from home I show it to him [Superintendent Hummer] the letter I heard about my little Boy he was very sick we all like to see are [sic] children. I am feeling just blue from that day.”
She begged the commissioner to write to Hummer, to let her visit her family. Superintendent Hummer didn’t feel she should go, so the commissioner wrote back, saying, “Your superintendent will be the best judge of the proper time for your return to your home.”