Vermont State Hospital

Dublin Core

Title

Vermont State Hospital

Subject

psychiatric hospitals
insane asylums
history of madness

Description

The Vermont State Hospital opened in Waterbury in 1891 and closed in 2011. For much of its history, the Hospital was overcrowded, understaffed, and struggled with inadequate facilities that were prone to flooding due to their proximity to the Winooski River.

Creator

Holly Allen, Middlebury College

Publisher

Middlebury College

Date

1891-2011

Contributor

Sabrina Glaser, Sophia Peluso, and Julia Sinton

Language

English

Collection Items

Photograph of a person at the Vermont State Hospital
A profile view of a person incarcerated at the Vermont State Hospital in the early 1900s.

R.A. Chittick, M.D., "Program for the Vermont State Hospital" (1946).
Written by Superintendent R.A. Chittick, this report deals extensively with the shortcomings of the Hospital's physical plant, which lacks an auditorium for recreational gatherings and consists of older, unmodernized wards that are overcrowded and…

Lorenzo D'Agostino, "The Problem of Mental Defectiveness" (1948)
In this chapter of "The History of Public Welfare in Vermont" (1948), D'Agostino narrates the history of the State's response to those labeled "insane" and "feeble-minded" from the time of Vermont's founding in 1791 to 1948. The chapter includes…

Biennial Report of the Superintendent of the Vermont State Hospital for the Term Ending June 30, 1924
Note that, with an average inmate population of 792, 359 of that number were engaged in work to keep the Hospital running (74). Also note that, of 1,138 inmates on the books during the 1922-24 biennium, 173, or more than fifteen percent, died (77). …

Biennial Report of the Supervisors of the Insane for the State of Vermont for the Years 1904-1906.<br /><br />
The Report for the 1904-1906 Biennium places a new emphasis on the medical and scientific treatment on inmates. It reads in part:

The old term ‘Asylum’ has been discarded by legislative enactment, and the word ‘Hospital’ substituted.

Biennial Report of the Supervisors of the Insane for the State of Vermont for the Years 1916-18.
The Supervisors of the Insane write, "We find these institutions well conducted and the quiet and tidy patients happy and comfortable; the noisy and untidy patients are as happy and comfortable as their condition will permit" (p.3). This prompts one…

Biennial Report of the Supervisors of the Insane for the State of Vermont for the Years 1924-26.
The Supervisors write, "We have for some time been looking for the peak in our insane population in the hospitals, but that time evidently has not yet arrived. This is due, not so much because of increase of insanity, as to the fact that individuals…

Biennial Report of the Supervisors of the Insane for the State of Vermont for the Years 1926-28.
In this report, the Supervisors of the Insane describe part of their work as “dispel[ling] the old time prejudice against what used to be Insane Asylums, but which now are Hospitals for the Insane – and they are hospitals in fact as well as name”…

Biennial Report of the Supervisors of the Insane for the State of Vermont for the Years 1928-30.
As statewide advocacy for a sterilization law was building, the Supervisors of the Insane lent their support to the measure. Their eugenic rationale merits quoting at length:

"In making discharges from our hospitals the sex problem and potential…

Biennial Report of the Supervisors of the Insane for the State of Vermont for the Years 1930-32.
Touting the benefits of institutionalization while lamenting the problem of overcroding, the Supervisors of the Insane state, “It seemed some years ago that the peak of our hospital population was near at hand, yet the increase still goes on as…
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