Dorothea Dix. SOPHIE VILLANI GRACE ALFIERI. Biography. Born April 4, 1802 in Hampden, Maine Her mother was mentally ill and her father was an alcoholic -- Dix’s family was poor She lived with her wealthy grandmother in Boston at 12 yrs old
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Dorothea Dix SOPHIE VILLANI GRACE ALFIERI
Biography • Born April 4, 1802 in Hampden, Maine • Her mother was mentally ill and her father was an alcoholic -- Dix’s family was poor • She lived with her wealthy grandmother in Boston at 12 yrs old • In 1816, when she was 14 she founded a successful school in Worcester, she taught there for 3 years • At age 19 she opened another school for girls in Boston in 1821 • Dorothea published 5 books between 1824-1829 • In 1841 she started a Sunday school class in the East Cambridge, Massachusetts, jail • She spent the next 40 years documenting abuse of mental patients and fighting for legislative reforms • In 1861 she worked for the Union army, recruited 2000 women, and became superintendent of Union army nurses
Social Reform Movement • By the mid 19th century, thousands of Americans holding a variety of philosophical positions had joined together to fight social problems that troubled nation. • Dorothea Dix among many other focused her attention on reforming asylums and prisons • One cause was the mentally ill women living in jails with “horrifying” conditions such as being chained to walls, naked and filthy, with out heat or sanitary facilities • She spent a year touring every jail in Massechutes
“Society, during the last hundred years, has been alternately perplexed and encouraged, respecting the two great questions --how shall the criminal and pauper be disposed of, in order to reduce crime and reform the criminal on the one hand, and, on the other, to diminish pauperism and restore the pauper to useful citizenship?”-Remarks on Prisons and Prison Discipline in the United States
Dorothea’s Contribution • She fought for improvement of jails and care for the mentally ill throughout Massachusetts • She asked the legislature for reforms to end the inhumane conditions of the mentally ill • Her work discussed reforms she wanted to implement such as including the education of prisoners and the separation of various types of offenders • Dix investigated mental institutions in Russia, France, Turkey and Scotland • Served without pay as a nurse in the civil war • Wrote many works including: • Memorial to the Massechutsettes Legislature(1843) • Remarks on Prisons and Disciplines in the United States (1845)
Effects of Dix’s Contribution • Inspired legislators in 15 U.S states and in Canada to establish state hospitals for the mentally ill • Her efforts directly effected the building of 32 institutions in the United States • Where new institutions were not required, she fostered the reorganization, enlargement, and restaffing of already existing hospitals • Also helped establish a government hospital which later become St.Elizabeth's in Washington,DC • There were only 13 mental hospitals when Dix began her work in 1843, but by 1880 there were 123 • The Life of Dorothea Dix was published in 1891
Fun Fact: Dorothea died on July 17, 1887 at age 82 in Trenton NJ, in a hospital that SHE founded
“I come to present the strong claims of suffering humanity. I come to place before the Legislature of Massachusetts the condition of the miserable, the desolate, the outcast. I come as the advocate of helpless, forgotten, insane and idiotic men and women; of beings, sunk to a condition from which the most unconcerned would start with real horror; of beings wretched in our Prisons, and more wretched in our Alms-Houses. And I cannot suppose it needful to employ earnest persuasion, or stubborn argument, in order to arrest and fix attention upon a subject, only the more strongly pressing in its claims, because it is revolting and disgusting in its details.” - Excerpt from Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts
Bibliography • Primary Sources: • Dix, Dorothea. "'Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts'." From: Massachusetts State Archives.. American Women's History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp? ItemID=WE42&iPin=E06830&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 9, 2011). • Dix, Dorothea Lynde. Remarks on Prisons and Prison Discipline in the United States. Philadelphia: Joseph Kite &, Printers, 1845. Print • Secondary Sources: • "Dix, Dorothea Lynde" Encyclop訶ia Britannica. Encyclop訶ia Britannica Online School Edition.Encyclop訶ia Britannica, 2011. Web. 9 Apr. 2011.<http://school.eb.com/eb/article-9030698>. • Langston, Donna. "Dix, Dorothea." A to Z of American Women Leaders and Activists, A to Z of Women. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2002. American Women's History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp? ItemID=WE42&iPin=WLA036&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 9, 2011 • Marshall, Helen, and Tiffany Francis. "Dorothea Dix." Webster University. Web. 09 Apr. 2011. <http://webster.edu/~woolflm/dix.html>. • Reddi, Vasantha. "Biography of Dorothea Lynde Dix." The Center for Nursing Advocacy. Web. 09 Apr. 2011. <http://www.nursingadvocacy.org/press/pioneers/dix.html>.