New Jersey opened its first state hospital for those needing psychiatric care in 1848. Known as the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum, this hospital was established in direct response to Dorothea Dix’s patient advocacy campaign and, as such, offered a revolutionary approach to patient care, one that emphasized holistic treatments and protected patient dignity. Yet over the next century, these approaches would be challenged by changing social, political, and scientific norms. The New Jersey State Library’s recently digitized collection of New Jersey State Asylum annual reports offers a glimpse into patient life and care over the course of that century. Please join us as Caitlyn Cook, our Digital Librarian, discusses the collection, the stories found within, and their relevance today.
Caitlyn Cook is the New Jersey Reference and Digital Librarian for the New Jersey State Library in Trenton. Her work includes digitizing historic, New Jersey government documents to ensure long-term preservation and to promote public access.