This collection (1849-1946) contains correspondence, deeds (1907 certified copies of earlier deeds going back to 1850), blueprints, proposals, and specifications related to the physical facilities at Dorothea Dix Hospital. Also included are receipts and some correspondence related to the receipts. Of particular interest are legal documents related to the establishment of the state hospital (1904 certified copy of 1849 document) and the 1885 (1907 certified copy) description and map of the lands of the hospital.
Dorothea Dix was born in 1802 and started teaching in 1821. After traveling to Europe in 1836, she started to get interested in social reform. Upon returning to the United States, she began campaigning for the reform of prisons and asylums that were notorious for inhumane treatment. In 1848 she made an appeal to the legislature of North Carolina to create a hospital dedicated to the "Protection and Cure of the Insane." Later that year, the state passed a bill to start setting aside money for the new hospital. From 1849 to 1855 the state raised almost $200,000 for the site and construction of the hospital. Dr. Edward Fisher was named the first permanent superintendent of the hopsital in 1853 and the first patient was admitted in 1856. By 1875 the hospital was already over capacity with 25 patients over its 225 patient capacity. The name of the hospital was changed to The State Hospital at Raleigh in 1899. A fire badly damaged the main building in 1925 along with nine of the wards, but the building was rebuilt by 1928. The hospital expanded with three new buildings in 1953 and the name was changed to Dorothea Dix Hospital in 1959. By 1974 the hospital had 282 buildings on 2,354 acres of land and 2,700 patients lived there. The hospital began a decline by 1984 with 1000 acres given to NC State University and 60 acres to Raleigh in 1997. Changes in the way patients were cared for continued to reduce the patient population at Dix to below 700 by the early 2000s. More property and some buildings were given to NC State University and the State began discussing new uses for the land the hospital sat on. By 2010 the hospital stopped acccepting new adult patients, and in 2015 Raleigh and the State of North carolina made a deal to turn the rest of the hospital property into a park; the hospital officially closed in July 2015.
This collection contains documents related to Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, for the years 1849 to 1946. They were found inside a secret compartment in a walk-in safe sold by the hospital several decades ago. The time period covered by these papers documents the founding of the hospital through land deeds and other legal papers. Other papers include correspondence between individuals at the hospital and others at outside companies managing things like utilities, as well as general correspondence about patient care. Receipts and bills are also present and they mostly pertain to payments made by patients and their families to the hospital. Blueprints in the oversized folder show an overhead pass for asylum summit from 1913. A map shows the extent of the hospital's property as of 1885. While at the hospital, some of the patients received jobs on the property and worked to create goods as part of their treatment. There is a list of goods that were created by the sewing department during one year of work. This collection gives a small glimpse into some of the administrative and legal work of the Dorothea Dix Hospital in its 159 years of history.
Gift of Jeff Foyles
Processing completed May 8, 2019, by Timothy Smith.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.