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Dorothea Dix
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    (April 4, 1802-July 17, 1887)
    Born in Hampden, Maine
    Social reformer for the mentally ill
    Appointed Superintendent of Union Army Nurses during the U.S. Civil War
    Namesake of the Dorothea Dix Hospital - psychiatric hospital located on Dix Hill in Raleigh, North Carolina (established 1856)
    Died in Trenton, New Jersey at age 85
    Subject of the biography 'Voice for the Mad: The Life of Dorothea Dix' by David Gollaher (1995)
    She was raised by a wealthy grandmother and great aunt, yet loathed privileged life.
    When her second cousin proposed marriage in 1820, she closed a small school she was operating and fled.
    He followed her, asked again, she accepted and they were engaged for a year until she called it off and never married.
    She had a nervous breakdown at age 34.
    She was at odds with Civil War doctors who were put off by her independent ways and eventually relieved of her duties as Union Army nurse supervisor.
    In 1854, she got a bill passed in both the House and Senate advocating a national government role in care for the mentally ill who were poor, but President Franklin Pierce vetoed it.
    The hospital named in her honor was slated to be closed in 2008.
    Her father was an abusive alcoholic and she left her parents when she was 12.
    She acted as surrogate mother to her two younger brothers and never knew a true childhood.
    As a teacher and children's book writer, she volunteered to teach a Sunday School class for women inmates in East Cambridge Jail, MA.
    The 1941 event changed her life as she witnessed the mentally ill naked, chained, beaten and housed in filthy, unheated quarters.
    When she inquired about their housing conditions she was told, 'The insane do not feel heat or cold.'
    She eventually took her crusade for better conditions for the insane to every state east of the Mississippi River.
    She had a hand in founding 32 mental hospitals, 15 schools for the mentally challenged, a school for the blind and several training facilities for nurses.
    She also helped establish libraries in mental hospitals and prisons.
    She took her advocacy for the mentally ill abroad to regions such as the U.K., Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, Russia and Turkey.
    She treated both Union and Confederate soldiers wounded in battle with equal compassion, endearing her to many Civil War Southerners.
    By 1881 she became an invalid and spent the last six years of her life in a hospital.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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