Section II. Institute of the Pennsylvania
Records, photographic materials, and artifacts, 1826-1997
State law 50 P.S. 7111 prohibits the use of all patient
mental health records.
The Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Collections is currently
revising it’s patient record access policy for all
medical patient records held in the Archives. As of right
now, ALL patient records are closed to the public. Our
new policy will be posted here as soon as possible. We
truly regret the inconvenience this causes. All non-patient
related material is closed for 75 years from its creation.
Certain restrictions might still apply on specific records.
The processing of this collection was made possible through
a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records
The overwhelming majority of this collection is comprised
of the physician/ superintendent files, and administrative
records of the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital and
the Institute's School of Nursing and Affiliate Program. When
the Institute closed, these records were transferred to the
Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Collections. A few of the more
personal items were donated by relatives of the physicians
to whom the items belonged.
The Pennsylvania Hospital was founded in 1751 by Dr. Thomas
Bond and Benjamin Franklin. Chartered by the Colonial Government,
the Pennsylvania Hospital has the distinction of being the
first hospital in America to care for the sick poor. The original
building on Eighth and Pine Streets, completed in 1755, was
expanded over the years, as demand for a larger facility grew.
Today the Hospital maintains the original building, as well
as many others, as part of its campus.
The nation's first hospital was also the first to treat psychological
and emotional disorders as conditions that could be cured.
From the outset, part of the hospital's mission was to treat
mentally challenged patients with more dignity than the custom
of the day dictated, though in 1783, that mission became even
more clear when Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) was elected
to the medical staff. Referred to as the "Father of American
Psychiatry," Rush was one of the first physicians to contend
that mental illness could be treated humanely with better
living conditions and recreational therapy. This notion was
clearly well received, as by the early 19th Century the number
of mentally ill patients outnumbered patients with physical
ailments. By 1832 the Board of Managers recognized the necessity
of opening a separate asylum with the sole purpose of caring
for psychiatric patients. The Pennsylvania Hospital purchased
a 101-acre farm in West Philadelphia in 1835 from Matthew
Arrison, on which the cornerstone for a new facility was laid
on July 26, 1836.
On October 12, 1840, the Managers named Dr. Thomas Story
Kirkbride (1809-1883), a thirty-one year-old graduate of the
University of Pennsylvania Medical School, as the Superintendent
of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, which officially
opened its doors to patients on January 1, 1841. At this time,
nearly one hundred mentally ill patients were transferred
by carriage from the Pennsylvania Hospital at 8th Street to
the new asylum, which was beautifully constructed amidst vast,
flourishing lawns and gardens. Dr. Kirkbride and his family
took up residence in the mansion that was once the home of
Paul Busti, a wealthy Philadelphia merchant, who had owned
the farm prior to Matthew Arrison.
The reputation of the Hospital and its superintendent grew
rapidly, and the institution flourished. Dr. Kirkbride became
well-known for his work with the patients, and the so-called
"Kirkbride Plan" for the design and creation of mental institutions.
The plan, outlined in Kirkbride's 1854 work entitled, On the
Construction, Organization and General Arrangements of Hospitals
for the Insane, was widely accepted and implemented in institutions
throughout the nation. Indeed, Kirkbride also gained fame
for being one of the original thirteen founders of the Association
of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the
Insane, which evolved into what is today known as the American
Increased popularity of Kirkbride and the humane treatment
methods he espoused led to a significant increase in the institution's
patient population. Though additions had been made to the
original building to accommodate the growing demand for care,
it eventually became clear that another, larger building was
needed. On July 7, 1856, the cornerstone for a new building,
built with the money from individual contributions, was laid
at 49th and Market Streets, five blocks west of the original
building. The new structure, which was to house only male
patients, was dubbed the Department for Males, while the original
building officially became known as the Department for Females.
The Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane flourished under
Kirkbride until his death on December 16, 1883, though for
decades after his death, Philadelphia natives colloquially
referred to the hospital as "Kirkbride's." Dr. John B. Chapin,
the former Superintendent of the Willard State Hospital in
New York, assumed the role of Superintendent of the Pennsylvania
Hospital for the Insane after Kirkbride's demise. Chapin resigned
from his duties in 1911, and was succeeded by Dr. Owen Copp,
who initiated a School of Nursing for Men at the Hospital.
Against the custom of the day, Copp appointed Leroy N. Craig
as the director of the Men's School, and Craig became the
first male superintendent of any male nursing school in the
country. The new school was devoted to training male students
in general nursing practices, as well as the specialized disciplines
of psychiatric and urological nursing. The Pennsylvania Hospital
School of Nursing for Men was successful for many years, but
in 1965, it was dissolved after having graduated 551 men and
training approximately 12,000 affiliates during it's 51-year
history. (At this time, the School of Nursing for Women, which
operated out of the Pennsylvania Hospital's 8th Street facility
was also dissolved, and a cooperative school which accepted
both male and female students was initiated. This school existed
until 1974, when the nursing school was completely dissolved
due to lack of interest in the program.)
The Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, which officially
became known as the Department of Mental and Nervous Diseases
in 1918, was not only a pioneer in nursing education, but
also in outpatient care. In 1920, Dr. Copp appointed a young
Dr. Edward A. Strecker to head a new outpatient service at
49th Street. The new treatment center was opened to persons
in need of psychiatric care, but for whom constant hospital
supervision was unnecessary. Outpatient therapy proved popular,
and in 1930, all male inpatients were transferred from the
49th Street facility to the 44th Street Building, so the 49th
Street property could be used primarily as an outpatient center
to treat patients with common neuroses, such as depression,
sleeplessness, and low self-esteem. Strecker became a groundbreaker
in the field of psychiatry with his approach to these common
issues, including alcoholism, which he was one of the first
physicians to recognize as a mental illness rather than as
a moral failing. It was at this time the 49th Street property
was renamed the "Institute."
The entire West Philadelphia entity became known as the Institute
of the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1959, when the 44th Street
property was closed due to the City of Philadelphia exercising
its right of eminent domain. Items from the original building
were auctioned off, and the building was demolished to make
way for the City's subway project. All patients were moved
to the 49th Street property, where a new, five-story "North
Building" opened to accommodate the consolidation. Within
a decade this building became the site of the area's first
inpatient treatment center for adolescent children.
The Institute was a fundamental player in the evolution of
psychiatric care. Many of the most eminent psychiatrists of
the 19th and 20th Centuries were either superintendents or
otherwise affiliated with the institution. Physicians like
the aforementioned Drs. Kirkbride, Chapin, Copp, and Strecker,
as well as others such as Dr. Kenneth Appel, and Dr. Earl
D. Bond, were all instrumental in the effective operation
and management of the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital.
Their contributions to the field of psychiatry cannot be underestimated,
nor can the care given to thousands of patients during the
Institute's impressive history. Nevertheless, in 1997, The
Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital was forced to close
its doors, after years of declining insurance payments and
a decreased need for inpatient services had taken its toll
on the Hospital. The buildings were sold, and the behavioral
health programs returned to their original location at the
Pennsylvania Hospital's 8th Street property.
May 11, 1751 - The Pennsylvania Hospital
is founded for the care of the sick-poor and the insane.
1783 - Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), the
"Father of American Psychiatry," is elected to the medical
staff of the Pennsylvania Hospital, and remains an integral
member of the staff until his death in 1813. He is one of
the first physicians to maintain that mental illness could
be treated humanely with better living conditions and recreational
1832 - A resolution is passed by the Board
of Managers to create a separate asylum for mentally ill patients,
who, by that time, outnumbered sick and injured patients.
1835 - The Pennsylvania Hospital purchases
a 101-acre farm in West Philadelphia from Matthew Arrison,
on which the new facility is to be erected. Prior to being
owned by Arrison, the farm had been the property of Paul Busti,
an area merchant.
July 26, 1836 - The cornerstone of the Pennsylvania
Hospital for the Insane is laid, and the new hospital, designed
by architects Isaac Holden and Samuel Sloan, is built at the
corner of 44th and Market Streets.
October 12, 1840 - Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride
(1809-1883), a thirty-one year-old graduate of the University
of Pennsylvania Medical School, is elected Superintendent
of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane.
January 1, 1841 - the Pennsylvania Hospital
for the Insane opens its doors. Nearly 100 mentally ill patients
are transferred by carriage from the Pennsylvania Hospital's
8th Street location to the new facility, which is beautifully
constructed with stone arches and large parlors, and rests
amidst flourishing lawns and gardens. Spaciousness is the
ideal. Dr. Kirkbride and his family take up residence in the
mansion that was once the home of Paul Busti.
October 16, 1844 - Dr. Kirkbride hosts a
meeting of thirteen superintendents of psychiatric hospitals,
at which they found the Association of Medical Superintendents
of American Institutions for the Insane. Over the years, this
association will evolve into what is today known as the American
1854 - Dr. Kirkbride writes On the Construction,
Organization and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the
Insane, which outlines what is now known as the "Kirkbride
Plan" for the design of mental institutions. Kirkbride's reputation
grows, as does the reputation of the Pennsylvania Hospital
for the Insane, and the plan is implemented in many institutions
throughout the nation.
July 7, 1856 - Increased popularity of the
humane methods espoused by Kirkbride, lead to a significant
increase in the institution's patient population. Though additions
are added to the original building to accommodate the growing
demand for care, another large building becomes. The cornerstone
for a new building, funded by individual contributions, is
laid five blocks to the west of the original building at 49th
and Market Streets.
October 10, 1859 - The new building receives
patients for the first time. The original building officially
becomes known as the Department for Females, while the new,
twin building at 49th Street is dubbed the Department for
December 16, 1883 - Dr. Kirkbride passes
away. For many years after his death, native Philadelphians
colloquially refer to the hospital as "Kirkbride's."
September 1, 1884 - Dr. John B. Chapin,
former Superintendent of the State Hospital of Willard, NY,
assumes the role of Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Hospital
for the Insane.
1895 - Female attendants serve in the Men's
Department for the first time.
1911 - Dr. Chapin resigns as Superintendent
and is succeeded by Dr. Owen Copp.
1914 - Copp initiates a School of Nursing
for Men at the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane. He appoints
Leroy N. Craig as the first director of the Men's School.
Craig becomes the first male superintendent of a male nursing
school in the country. The new school is devoted to training
male nurses in general nursing practices, as well as the specialized
disciplines of psychiatric and urological nursing.
1918 - The name of the institution is officially
changed from the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane to the
"Department for Mental and Nervous Diseases" of the Pennsylvania
Hospital, to reflect a growing interest in the studies of
1920 - Copp appoints Dr. Edward A. Strecker
to head a new outpatient service at 49th Street. The new treatment
center is opened to persons in need of psychiatric care, but
for whom constant hospital supervision is unnecessary.
1922 - Dr. Earl D. Bond succeeds Dr. Copp
as the Psychiatrist-In-Chief of the Department of Mental and
1928 - Two new buildings are added to the
Hospital's campus at 48th Street and Haverford Avenue. The
new structures boast a power plant, a kitchen, a laundry,
etc. With the additions, these potentially hazardous structures
are removed from the 49th Street buildings.
1930 - All male in-patients are moved from
the 49th Street facility to the 44th Street Building. The
49th Street building is dubbed as the "Institute" for the
first time, and opens its doors as an outpatient center to
treat patients with common neuroses, such as depression, sleeplessness,
and low self-esteem.
1932 - An affiliate program in Psychiatric
Nursing is established as part of the Department for Mental
and Nervous Diseases' School of Nursing.
1933 - A residency training program in psychiatric
medicine is established.
1935 - Dr. Strecker becomes one of the first
doctors to recognize alcoholism as a disease, and the Pennsylvania
Hospital becomes the first treatment center to hire a recovering
alcoholic as an addiction counselor.
1938 - Dr. Bond retires as the Psychiatrist-in-Chief
and is replaced by Dr. Lauren H. Smith.
1951 - The Child Study Center is formed.
1959 - The 44th Street property is closed
due to the City of Philadelphia exercising its right of eminent
domain. Items from the original building are auctioned off,
and the building is demolished to make way for the City's
subway project. All patients are moved to the 49th Street
property, and all departments are consolidated under the name
of the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital. The new, five-story
"North Building" opens on the 49th Street property to accommodate
the consolidation. Within a decade it becomes the site of
the area's first inpatient treatment center for adolescent
1962 - Dr. Smith is succeeded by Dr. J.
Martin Myers as Psychiatrist-in-Chief.
1965 - The Pennsylvania Hospital School
of Nursing for Men is dissolved after having graduated 551
men and training approximately 12,000 affiliates during it's
51-year history. (At this time, the School of Nursing for
Women, which operates out of the Pennsylvania Hospital's 8th
Street facility is also dissolved, and a cooperative school
which accepts both male and female students is initiated.
This school exists until 1974, when the nursing school is
completely dissolved due to lack of interest in the program.)
1981 - Dr. Newell Fischer replaces Dr. Myers
and becomes the Institute's Director of Psychiatry. 1982 -
Dr. Layton McCurdy becomes the new Psychiatrist-in-Chief
1997 - The Institute of the Pennsylvania
Hospital is forced to close its doors, after years of declining
insurance payments and a decreased need for inpatient treatment
of psychiatric illness. The buildings are sold and the Hospital's
behavioral health programs return to their original location
at the Pennsylvania Hospital's 8th Street property. The archival
records and historical artifacts pertaining to the Pennsylvania
Hospital for the Insane (the Institute of the Pennsylvania
Hospital) are transferred to the Pennsylvania Hospital Historic
2004 - The NHPRC issues a grant to organize,
preserve and make publicly accessible the Institute of the
Pennsylvania Hospital's Archival Collection.
General Overview of the Collection:
The Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital collection is
a very comprehensive record group, which contains general
and detailed information on the general operation of the Institute,
on the doctors and superintendents who were associated with
the facility, and on the School of Nursing founded at the
Institute. The collection dates from the early 1800s to 1997,
and is comprised of approximately 250 linear feet of material,
including paper documents, ledger books, photographs, and
This collection should be considered one of the most important
collections covering the treatment of psychological disorders
and mental illness, as it contains operational information
for one of the first modern treatment facilities for such
diseases. In addition, it represents an important source of
information on early Schools of Nursing - particularly those
specializing in the education of male nurses.
The collection has been divided into six series:
Note on Restricted Access:
Not all materials in the collection are publicly accessible
or reproducible. The physical condition of an item, copyright
issues, donor restrictions, and Federal regulations will determine
restrictions on access and reproductions.
According to the Hospital Insurance Portability & Accountability
Act (HIPAA), effective April 14th, 2003, Hospital employees
are not permitted to provide access to identifying information
of any patient - past, present, or future. As a result, access
to, or reproductions of, any images in which patients appear,
cannot be granted, unless the patients' faces are blurred
so as to be unrecognizable. State law 50 P.S. § 7111 prohibits
the use of all patient mental health records.
Requests for Reproductions and Publishing/ Use Rights:
When deemed appropriate, and when not restricted by federal
or donor regulations, the Archivist may grant one-time, non-exclusive
rights to publish hospital-owned images. Reproduction costs,
Service charges, and Publication/ use fees may apply.
All requests for image reproductions must be in writing and
should be delivered to the Hospital Archivist at least three
weeks prior to the date the image is needed. Please request
to view the "Details of Image Reproduction Services" information
page and the "Image Services Fee Schedule" for additional
information regarding image reproductions.
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United
States Code) governs the making of photocopies and other reproductions
of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified
in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish
a photocopy or other reproduction. One of the specified conditions
is that the photocopy or other reproduction is not to be "used
for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research."
If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy
or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that
user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution
reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if,
in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation
of copyright law.
Reproductions of materials in the Historic Collections of
Pennsylvania Hospital are provided as a service to expedite
research and lessen wear on image/ documents, and are made
solely for the personal use of the individual researcher requesting
them. Reproductions may not be transferred to another individual
or organization, deposited at another institution, or reduplicated
without prior permission of the Pennsylvania Hospital. Duplication
by the Hospital in no way transfers either the copyright or
the property right. Similarly, duplication by the Hospital
does not constitute permission to publish, or to display materials,
without the express written consent of the Pennsylvania Hospital
Archivist via a signed Permission to Publish and/or Exhibit
Materials form, and the payment of use fees where applicable.
Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital Collection. Courtesy
of the Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Collections, Philadelphia,
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