Finding Dirk: Insanity in the 19th Century

Jill Morelli, CG, CGL
Dec 8, 2017
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3m 44s
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11m 20s
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Finding Dirk
3m 30s
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Public Records
8m 28s
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Records Through the Courts
13m 39s
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Other Methods
6m 31s
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About this webinar

Do have an Aunt Mabel that disappears or who no one in the family talks about? Perhaps she was committed as insane. As the west was settled the disassociation of individuals from family members meant that home care for the insane was less of an option. The states assumed the responsibility of care, resulting in many state-run institutions established in the post-1850 era.   This presentation will explore the history of treatment of the “insane” and how it changed. Using Dirk Jans Bode as our case study, confined to an asylum for 27 years in Illinois, we will compare the physical conditions of the confinement and types of diagnoses and various treatments and how they changed into the 20th century. The wealth of documentation in the public records will be identified and information from public and restricted sources will be compared. The process of obtaining the mental health records through the courts will be outlined.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Jill Morelli, CG, CGL is a “Roots” genealogist, becoming interested in family history in the 1970’s with the Alex Haley show. At that time, she just collected “stuff.” After a hiatus during which she had a family and volunteered in her community,
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