Dorthea Dix

By: Jordan Barrett

Brief History

Dorthea Dix was a educator and social reformer. Her main focus was on reforming mentally ill institutes and prisons. Her dedication led to many widespread reforms all over the country for better living for these patients.
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Dorothea Dix: Revolutionizing Asylums

Early Life

Dorthea Dix was born in Hampden, Maine on April 4,1802. She was the eldest of three children. Although she was born in Maine, at the age of 12 she moved in with her grandmother in Boston due to the chore of stitching and pasting tracts together, in which her religious father was a distributor of. A while later she then moved in with an Aunt who lived in Worcester, Massachusetts. At the age of 14 she began teaching school, and then later returned to Boston and founded the Dix Mansion, a school for girls. The year of 1824 she wrote a published textbook called "Conversations of Common Things."

The Movement

Dorthea Dix was a social reformer for better living conditions for mentally ill patients and prisoners all over the country. She wanted to provide better heating, budget expands, and making new and better hospitals. In 1841, when Dix began teaching Sunday school at East Cambridge Jail she realized how horrific and terrible the conditions of the hospitals and asylums were in, therefore, led to the beginning of the reforms

The Reforms

After 40 years of reforming Dorthea Lynde Dix was able to help and save and build 32 institutions in the United States. Due to the living conditions she seen at the women's prison at East Cambridge she immediately secured a court order and got the institute to provide heating for the Prisoners. After travelling around the state of Massachusetts and examining the poor conditions of Asylums and other institutes she was able to write up a document to the Massachusetts legislature. She was able to get an expansion of the budget for the State Mental Hospital in Worcester. After seeing the affect she had in just Massachusetts, Dorthea began touring the country in order to reform other Hospitals and Asylums. She was able to add additions or found Hospitals in Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina. She even protested and demanded for congress to grant 12 million acres of land for public endowment for the mentally ill. Both houses approved the bill, but was vetoed in 1854 by President Franklin Pierce. Discouraged by the set back, Dix traveled to Europe to bring a better place for mental patients over the seas.

In a Turn of Events

After the civil war Dorthea briefly returned as a social reformer and continued lobbying her causes of helping the mentally ill. She ended up contracting Malaria and had to stop the aggressive travelling. She became a residence in a hospital she founded 40 years earlier in Trenton New Jersey and died at the age of 85. Dorthea is one of the biggest significant figures for improvements of hospital and prison conditions. Thanks to her treatment to patients who are mentally unstable have became a better thing.
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