Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Early Psychiatric Hospitals and Asylums

Early Psychiatric Hospitals and Asylums –  https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/diseases/early.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • When did psychiatric hospitals begin in this country?
  • What were some of the arguments for and against physical restraint?
  • What roles did the Quakers play in the history of psychiatric hospitals?


I have toured two of Thomas Kirkbride’s buildings, which were fascinating, and this could come in handy if your story or characters find themselves in a hospital or asylum in the 19th century.  This is just one page of the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s, “Diseases of the Mind: Highlights of American Psychiatry through 1900.” This site also has short biographies of 19th Century psychiatrists, including Kirkbride, as well as other short descriptions of related topics.  The timeline starts in 1752 and goes through 1890 with links to certain buildings and some digitized primary sources.


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