Historical Collections Historical Timeline Stories Virtual Tour

1751 - 1800

1801 - 1850

1851 - 1900

1901 - 1950

1951 - Today

1801 – 1850

Pennsylvania Hospital establishes a "lying-in," or maternity, department, the first recognized specialty at the hospital.

Construction of the third wing, the Center section, is completed, joining the previously separated East and West wings. Completion of the Center section allows for the opening of the surgical amphitheatre, made famous largely by the operations performed and lectures given there by Dr. Physick.

The American artist Benjamin West donates the painting "Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple" to the hospital. A special "Picture House" is built to house it. In the first 12 months that the canvas is on display, 30,000 visitors ride or walk to the hospital to see it. $15,000 is raised for the hospital by charging admission to see the painting.

A resolution is passed in 1832: "Resolved...a separate Asylum be provided for our Insane patients with ample space for their proper seclusion, classification and employment."

By the early 1800s, insane patients at Pennsylvania Hospital outnumber those with a physical diagnosis by two to one. A large farm at what is now 44th and Market Streets is purchased by the hospital and is called the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane. It later (1959) becomes known as The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital.

Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride becomes the Superintendent of the new Department for the Insane and moves to the new grounds with his family. He spends the rest of his life devoted to the creation of a new, more humane world for the mentally disabled.

Dr. Kirkbride is one of the original founders of the Association of Medical Superintendents of Institutions for the Insane, now the American Psychiatric Association.

The American Medical Association designates Pennsylvania Hospital's Medical Library as the first as well as the largest and most important in the United States. It continues to serve today as a repository for the historic book and journal collection and the meeting place for the Board of Managers. The collection includes many significant works dating from 1483 to 1930.

Continue to 1851-1900


About Penn Medicine   Contact Us   Site Map   HIPAA and Privacy   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 800-789-PENN © 2017, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania