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Dorothea Lynde Dix

Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802-1887) sent a memorial to the New Jersey legislature in 1845 stating her case for reforms in the care of the mentally ill.

Her research and advocacy resulted in the building of the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum at Trenton in 1848. As the first care facility in the state, it was a model for the humane care of the mentally ill.







Hermann, Frederick M. Dorothea L. Dix and the Politics of Institutional Reform. New Jersey Portraits vol. 3. Trenton: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1981.

Colman, Penny. Breaking the chains: the crusade of Dorothea Lynde Dix. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2007. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/166343814

Lightner, David L. Asylum, Prison, and Poorhouse: The Writings and Reform Work of Dorothea 

Dix in Illinois.Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999

Gollaher, David L. “Dorothea Dix and the English origins of the American asylum movement.” Canadian Review of American Studies 23, no. 3 (1993): 149-176.

Norbury, Frank B. “Dorothea Dix and the Founding of Illinois’ First Mental Hospital.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 92, no. 1 (1999): 13-29.

Questions to Explore

What did Dorothea Dix write in her memorial to the legislature that convinced the state of New Jersey to build a Lunatic Asylum?

What aspects of Dix’s life encouraged her to fight for reform in the care of the mentally ill?

As the first care facility in the state what were the ups and down of the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum?

Additional Resources

Schlaifer Charles and Lucy Freeman. 1991. Heart’s Work : Civil War Heroine and Champion of the Mentally Ill Dorothea Lynde Dix. 1st ed. New York: Paragon House.https://www.worldcat.org/title/23287000 

Fox Hannah Jane. 2014. Dorothea Lynde Dix : Woman with a Mission : A Monologue. Princeton NJ: Red HummingbirdPress.https://www.worldcat.org/title/1259295033 

Muckenhoupt, Margaret. Dorothea Dix : Advocate for Mental Health Care. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.