Dorothea Dix

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by AutumnPaige
Last updated 7 years ago

Social Studies
American History

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Dorothea Dix

Born in Hampden, Maine, in 1802, Dorothea Dix was a social reformer whose devotion to the welfare of the mentally ill led to widespread international reforms. After seeing horrific conditions in a Massachusetts prison, she spent the next 40 years lobbying U.S. and Canadian legislators to establish state hospitals for the mentally ill. Her efforts directly affected the building of 32 institutions in the United States.

Dorothea Dix made life right for the prisoners. She was horrified by what she had found, inmates chained together locked in cages, children who had been accused were with the grown men. She also observed that the prisoners owed money, but couldnt work to pay there debt. So basically they would have to stay in there forever.The most discustiong part to Dorthea was how the mentally ill people were treated. For two years Dorothea collected information about the conditions that these people were in. The people got local asylums and these people got help.

She established rules for prissioners and mentally ill people.

Dix traveled in England with friends, returning home months later with an interest in new approaches to the treatment of the insane. She took a job teaching inmates in an East Cambridge prison, where conditions were so abysmal and the treatment of prisoners so inhumane that she began agitating at once for their improvement.

Dorthea Dix




By the time she died, they no longer put debt on prisoners, and most had created a special system for chirlder

As a result of Dix’s efforts, funds were set aside for the expansion of the state mental hospital in Worcester. Dix went on to accomplish similar goals in Rhode Island and New York, eventually crossing the country and expanding her work into Europe and beyond.sourcesbio websitehistory websitehistory alive textbook

Dorothea lived till 1802-1887

Prisons at the time were unregulated and unhygienic, with violent criminals housed side by side with the mentally ill. Inmates were often subject to the whims and brutalities of their jailers. Dix visited every public and private facility she could access, documenting the conditions she found with unflinching honesty. She then presented her findings to the legislature of Massachusetts, demanding that officials take action toward reform. Her reports—filled with dramatic accounts of prisoners flogged, starved, chained, physically and sexually abused by their keepers, and left naked and without heat or sanitation—shocked her audience and galvanized a movement to improve conditions for the imprisoned and insane.


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