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Re: Iowa Hospital for the Insane, Independence


Posted By: Marlin Ingalls (email)
Date: 10/3/2012 at 11:51:46

In Response To: Re: Iowa Hospital for the Insane, Independence (Christopher Powers Kelly)

I don't have a query but I have been researching the facility and have examined records and talked with staff. The hospital has all patient files back to Patient 1. They are not online.

The reasons for hospitialization in 1877 were many but fall under five basic categories, which are Congenital, Disease of Nervous System, Disease of Abdominal Orgns, Diseases in General, and Moral Influence. While Heredity had the most in total (204), Diseases of Nervous System lists epilepsy, apoplexy, paralysis, meningitis, brain fever, head injury, spine injury, heat stroke, freezing, and lightning. Abodominal diseases total only 24 with 22 as Uterus. General diseases included opium, alcohol (2nd largest), tobacco, fever, rheumatism, old age, debility, Treatment by a Quack, masturbation (22), prostitution, exposure during menstrual epoch, ammenorhea, early marriage, distrubed gestation, puerperal condition (15), prolonged lactation, to frequent child bearing, and change of life.

Moral Influences were fright, death of friends or companions, domestic trouble (31), diappointed affection (18), seduction, loss of proerty (13), poverty and want, pecuniary embarrassment (14), overwork (10), excessive mental labor, excessive egotism, spiritualism, political excitement, religious excitement (22), sorrow from blindness, and the biggie No Cause Assigned (259).

These did not change much over time. Later statistics are available through the Iowa Board of Control Records, which are partly online. Individual patient names are not given.

Unfortunatley, several years ago all of the numbered cast iron markers in the hospital cemetery were stolen. An account book of burials was not located in my search. Many patients were taken home or buried in the local Independence cemetery. Especially the Catholics. Others were returned home but by and large possibly hundreds were not claimed or in paupers graves.

While this is only a start to the questions here one can make queries to Mike Cook, who is the museum director and historian there at


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