Catalog Archive
Auction 185, Lot 762

NO RESERVE - Alarming Report on the Care of the Mentally Ill in 19th Century America

"Memorial of D.L. Dix, Praying an Appropriation of Land for the Relief of the Insane", U.S. Government

Subject: Document - Mental Illness

Period: 1850 (published)

Publication: Sen. Doc. 118, 31st Congress, 1st Session

Color: Black & White

5.8 x 8.8 inches
14.7 x 22.4 cm
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This document by Dorothea Dix describes the status of the mentally ill across America, and is remarkable in its detail on the extent of the problem (severely understated by today’s standards) and vivid personal observations of the sad, and sometimes, horrific conditions to which the mentally ill were subjected in poor houses and jails.

The 40-page memorial contains her proposal for federal involvement and support to the states to establish mental institutions for the treatment of the mentally ill. She sought 10,000,000 acres of federal land to be appropriated to support the state efforts. Her memorial is compelling, and she was successful in gaining Congressional approval. However, in 1854 President Pierce vetoed the bill, insisting that social welfare was a state responsibility. During the Civil War, Dix served as the Superintendent of Nurses of the Union Army. Dix is widely viewed as the creator of the first generation of mental asylums.


Condition: B+

Disbound text has light scattered foxing.

Estimate: $160 - $190


Closed on 11/17/2021