Tag Archives: Dr. Emil Krulish

Prodded to Action

Some Physicians Were Patients' Advocates, courtesy Peoria Historical Society

Some Physicians Were Patients’ Advocates, courtesy Peoria Historical Society

Dr. Harry Hummer, superintendent of the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, absorbed any number of inspections conducted by the Indian Service. Unless recommendations fell in with his own desires (such as recommendations for new buildings and equipment, for example), he seldom changed any of his practices to accommodate findings. Hummer was faulted early on for “managing from his desk” instead of getting out of his office and into the wards, where he could see and supervise his staff and patients. Apparently, he was still managing from his desk in 1927.

In a memo to employees written in January of that year, Dr. Hummer told them that he had been “criticised by Dr. Emil Krulish, the Medical Inspector for this district, for the honor system which I have had in effect at this place for many years past.”

Doctors Visit Patients Who Are Kept in Restraints

Doctors Visit Patients Who Are Kept in Restraints

Hummer told employees that he would now be making more frequent inspections to see if they were carrying out his instructions. He had “already discovered that collectively you are off your wards entirely too frequently.”

Dr. Hummer May Have Used a Similar Medical Bag

Dr. Hummer May Have Used a Similar Medical Bag

Hummer told his staff that they would need to give him a satisfactory reason for being off the ward; for the first offense they would receive a warning, and for the second, “summarily dismissed from the service.”

Employees had to sign and date that they had read the instructions. However, since conditions continued to deteriorate, it seems improbable that Hummer actually followed through with his promised crackdown.


Oversight in Vain

Dr. Harry Hummer

Though the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians did not receive visits and inspections as regularly as most other asylums (see last post), some of the inspectors who visited had a strong sense that something was wrong. When Charles L. Davis inspected the asylum, he found it practically roiling with anger and rebellion, with almost all its employees ready to quit. In a report written in late 1909, Davis determined that Dr. Harry Hummer was not a good choice as superintendent for the asylum. Though quite a number of charges had been made against Hummer by the staff and his own assistant superintendent, Davis did not feel that any one of them quite warranted Hummer’s dismissal from the Indian Service. Instead, he advised the Indian Office that Hummer was simply temperamentally unsuited for his position. “In view of the facts developed through my investigation . . . there is nothing left but to recommend another man be placed in charge of the Asylum,” Davis wrote.

Twenty years later, in April, 1929, the facing sheet (a government form) of Dr. Emil Krulish’s latest report on the asylum said in the subject block: Reports on unsatisfactory conditions brought about by conduct of the supt. Dr. Hummer.” Dr. Emil Krulish ended this short follow-up to a prior inspection with: “. . . I desire to state that my last visit has more fully convinced me that a change in the management of this institution is imperative for the sake of harmony and efficient service.”

Dr. Hummer stayed on.

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Staff of Arizona State Asylum, 1914



Long Distance Oversight

William A. Jones was Commissioner of Indian Affairs When the Canton Asylum Opened

Few people ever wanted to enter an insane asylum, no matter how well run or up-to-date it was. And, like all institutions run by fallible human beings, asylums were not immune to mistakes and misjudgments on the part of their staffs. One problem the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians faced that St. Elizabeths and McLean didn’t (see last few posts) came as direct consequence of its long-distance oversight.

The Canton Asylum for Insane Indians was not under a trustee or board of visitors system like the other two asylums, though it is certainly untrue that this establishment was never inspected or investigated. However, the asylum was managed for the most part from thousands of miles away. The asylum’s superintendent in Canton reported directly to the commissioner of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC, and the seven commissioners who held the position during the time the asylum was open very seldom, if ever, actually visited the place.

Agents or inspectors from the Indian Office did come by fairly regularly, but none of these men were psychiatrists. They found it difficult to determine how well the patients were being treated  for mental health issues, and usually confined themselves to commenting on the state of the buildings and how efficiently the superintendent ran his farming operation. Medical staff from the Indian Office eventually began visiting much more often as the asylum grew in size and came to the notice of the commissioner through complaints. Dr. Emil Krulish became a frequent visitor and made numerous criticisms that honed in on treatment and the way the superintendent, Dr. Harry Hummer, managed his personnel and patients. However, his voice was ignored and Hummer continued to thrive in his position.

House of Indian Agent Will Hayes, circa 1920-1940, courtesy Library of Congress

Home of Indian Agent William Shelton, circa 1910, courtesy Denver Public Library