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Communication From The Commissioners And Trustees

From: Reports And Other Documents Relating To The State Lunatic Hospital At Worcester, Mass.
Creator:  Horace Mann, Bezaleel Taft, Jr., Wm. B. Calhoun, and A.D. Foster (authors)
Date: December 6, 1832
Publisher: Dutton and Wentworth, Boston
Source: Available at selected libraries

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To His Excellency LEVI LINCOLN, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


The undersigned, in their respective capacities, as Commissioners for the construction, and Trustees for the management of the State Lunatic Hospital, at Worcester, have the pleasure to inform your Excellency, that the edifice erected for that purpose is now upon the point of completion. The officers have also been appointed, so that it is now confidently believed that the operations of the institution itself may be commenced by the 10th day of the ensuing January. By an act of the Legislature, passed on the 24th day of March last, it was provided, that when the Hospital should be ready for the reception of inmates, the Governor of the Commonwealth should issue his proclamation, announcing that fact; and it was made the duty of the County Commissioners then to remove to the Hospital all such lunatics as might be at that time confined, by authority of law, within their respective counties. It must, however, be obvious to your Excellency, that it will be utterly impracticable for the Superintendent of the institution to receive in one day, or even in a single week, all those insane persons whose removal is peremptorily enjoined by the above mentioned law. But few individuals can be received and properly taken care of in a day, without occasional hazard to the safety, and certain prejudice to the comfort of each. Some time, also, will be required by the Superintendent to learn the peculiar tendencies, and dispositions of each of the inmates, as preparatory even to an imperfect classification of the whole. In view of these considerations the Trustees take the liberty to suggest, that according to a reasonable construction of the language of the law, the institution cannot be "ready for the reception of inmates" at an earlier period, or with any greater expedition, than is compatible with their safety and welfare. On consultation with the Superintendent, the Trustees are led to believe that seven weeks will be the shortest period indispensable for the reception of those who will be brought from the several counties, exclusive of Suffolk and Worcester. They therefore respectfully suggest to your Excellency the propriety of designating the counties from which they shall be received, and the times of reception, commencing on or about the 10th day of January next, as follows, viz: -- from Barnstable, Nantucket and Dukes counties, the first week; from Berkshire the second week; from Plymouth and Norfolk the third week; from Bristol the fourth week; from Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin the fifth week; from Essex, on different days, if practicable, the sixth week; and from Middlesex the seventh week; and after the seventh week, that those from Suffolk be removed, on different days, not to exceed six per day, until all are received, and that those from Worcester be removed last of all.


The Trustees also solicit your Excellency's attention to another topic too closely connected with the future comfort and healthfulness of the institution, to allow them to pass it unnoticed. The Hospital will be, at first, in a perfectly pure and wholesome state, untainted and uninfected. Some of the jails and houses of correction from which lunatics are to be removed, are, it is well known, in a decayed or ruinous condition; in consequence of which they have become impure and verminous, and some of the lunatics themselves are, as the Trustees have been informed, in an offensive condition of filth and squalidness. But if suitable care and attention shall be bestowed upon such individuals previous to their reception at Worcester, the Hospital may be afterwards preserved in a state of neatness, comfort and salubrity; while, on the other hand, the consequence of general neglect or carelessness will inevitably be to convert the Hospital into a receptacle of all such contagious diseases, and noxious insects, as have, elsewhere, proved such prolific and almost ineradicable causes of discomfort and annoyance.


The Trustees, therefore, request that, by circular letters, or in such other way as your Excellency may deem more eligible, it may be most strenuously enjoined upon all those upon whom the duty of removing the insane to the Hospital will devolve, to cause each individual to be put into a state of perfect bodily cleanliness before removed, and to clothe them all in an entire new dress, (1) on their being taken from their respective places of confinement, in order that this unfortunate class of our fellow beings may realize every benefit which can be derived from a favorable change in their physical sensations, combined with a change of residence, of regimen, and of moral treatment.

(1) The Trustees would prefer that the outside dress should be of a mixed color or Oxford grey satinet, and that each patient should come provided with a change of linen, and of socks, and a pair of shoes.


Worcester, December 6th, 1832.

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