Biographical Info and Backstory
Dorothea was born in Hampden, Maine on April 4, 1802. she was the oldest of three children and her father was an abusive, drunken Methodist preacher. Her Mom wasnt mentally stable so this required Dorothea to care for them. due to her unstable home life Dorothea took the kids to her Grandma's house in Vermont. her Grandma lived in the equivalent of a mansion of that time period. Here Dorothea developed her live for teaching and when she was 14 she began teaching Sunday school to younger kids. she even wrote their literature and textbooks for them to read. She called her school the Dix Mansion because she taught i her Grandma's house. This was an all girls school by the way and a strong majority of them were poor. In 1841 she was teaching the mentally ill at an insane asylum/jail for women and saw the terrible conditions these women lived in and immediately went to court and had heat and other improvements put in place for these women. She then began patroling and researching women's jails,asylums, and poorhouses and documented what she saw on an attempt to gain support and get help for these women who lived there. she even had such an impact she built new institutions in 14 states and is responsible for building nearly 50% of all institutions here in the U.S. but also in Europe. in 1848 she asked congress for 12 million acres of land for new institutions for the mentally ill and people who have disorders. This bill went through both houses but President Franklin Pierce vetoed it. due to this setback she oved to europe and continued her work. She had such an impact that she met Pope Pius IX and he personally asked for institutions to be built and for her to continue her outstanding work. She returned home just in time for the civil war and was deamed superintendent of nurses. She established field hospitals and nurse recruiting, she wouldn't go very far with the military though due to her rigid social skills. In 1870 she would contract malaria but survive. she was now taking residence on one of her hospitals when 40 years later she would die there on july 17, 1887.
She spearheaded and single handedly developed these institutions but gained more and more support due to her intent to help others first, even as a young child.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aOGuKzd0fw
She single handedly formed 50% of all asylums here and in Europe
National History Day: Dorothea Dix and the Asylum Movement