Faculty Advisor

Kimberly Jensen


The treatment and care of the mentally ill in the U.S. has been a topic that has been heavily criticized over the years because of the extreme abuses and lack of compassion that existed in society towards those who were mentally ill. During the Progressive Era and the Depression steps toward progress and reform were being taken and this included the concepts of civic medicine and new science. While steps were taken forward using these new ideas and modes of treatment there were still areas where steps backwards were taken such as in the Eugenics movement and patient abuse. My internship at the Oregon State Archives allowed me a closer look at the individual female patients’ records and gives an inside look at what life was really like in an asylum. These records show the popular beliefs and ideologies that existed regarding mental illness. The patient case files showed how civic medicine and psychiatry was being implemented to help care for the mentally ill and shows the areas where more reform was needed. Through my examination of these patients’ records the real story of what life was like living in the Oregon State Hospital from these patients’ perspective will be shown.

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