15 September 1882, Greensburg Standard
I’ve known Mary pretty much forever, and I wrote a guest post for her around Christmastime last year. I read her blog every day. She writes honestly about her life and the things she loves. I particularly enjoy reading about the work she and her husband do on their 1952 bungalow, and I loved her Week of Fancy!
Rules of the Liebster Blog Award are that you pass it along to five other blogs with followers under 200. Finding blogs with followers under 200 is actually pretty hard. I found it to be pretty much impossible, and actually decided to just ignore that rule altogether. I don’t think The Academy will mind.
1. Bee Haven Acres
This is my favorite blog at the moment. Beverly grew up in the suburbs and made her way to the country, just like me. I love reading about her farm adventures, and seeing pictures of her many animals. She makes my dream seem possible.
2. Farm Folly
This blog is by a young couple who bought a farm house in Oregon and have spent the past couple years working on it. Another inspiring farm blog for newbies like me.
3. 1888 Diary of Minnie LeCraw
For genealogists, it’s very frustrating that some of the most interesting primary sources are locked up in people’s attics, rotting away. That’s why I love the 1888 Diary of Minnie LeCraw. Minnie was a school teacher born in 1866. The blogger is not ready to party with the diary of her ancestor, but she’s aware that it is a valuable resource not just for her family, but for many families like hers. This is a great way to share your family’s history and help others understand their own.
From the blog: “The diary has been passed down through the generations, giving many people a glimpse into small Midwest town life in the late 19th Century.”
4. Forgotten Old Photos
This blogger buys old photos at antique shops and garage sales, researches them, and is sometimes able to re-unite them with their families. If any of my family’s photos from long ago end up for sale, I hope they find their way to this blogger.
5. Forgotten Faces and Long Ago Places
“A collection of vintage photography and “orphan” photographs showcasing the past.” I can’t get enough of old photos – especially cabinet cards! Teresa has a beautiful collection.
By the way, I’m struggling with my blog’s theme right now. I’m trying this one out, but I’m not sure I can handle all this pink.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.
Today I went on a little adventure with my camera, exploring some country roads and a tiny little town.
While I was photographing this old mill, the owner came over and asked me what the hell I was doing. He thought I was trying to steal some of his scrap metal. I told him I just thought this was a really cool old building, and I liked the railroad crossing shadow. He seemed pleased with this, and told me that sometimes he sees a shadow that looks like an angel reading a book, and then he left me alone. As he was walking back in his house, I heard him tell his wife, “She just thinks it’s neat.”
Last weekend I drove out to Sheep Street, a beautiful Shetland sheep farm in Morgantown, Indiana that sells yarn, spinning wheels, and looms, and also offers a variety of unique classes. In my first class, Shepherding 101, I got to meet the sheep, tour the barn, and talk about the shepherding lifestyle with fiber artist & shepherd Tim Ackerman. Today, my sister and I went back to Sheep Street to begin learning the traditional art of spinning wool.
“If only [the] mind were as easy to fix as [the] body.”
— Han Nolan
Spurred by a writing assignment and general curiosity, I recently visited the Indiana State Archives to explore the Central State Hospital Collection. Central State Hospital, originally called the Indiana Hospital for the Insane, opened on the west side of Indianapolis in 1848. In the beginning, patients were admitted from every county in the state. But eventually, space ran out, and in 1883, funding was approved for three additional mental hospitals to be built in Indiana. Even after the fourth hospital opened in 1890, crowding continued to be a problem.
In 1994, Central State Hospital closed its doors, and its records were transferred to the Archives. Most of the collection is confidential. To view a patient record, you have to be able to prove the patient is related to you. So, I dug into a piece of the collection that is open to the public: the Administrative History File. It includes information about the origins of the hospital and changes in the treatment of mental illness over the years.
One of the most interesting things I found: a table listing “probable causes of insanity” for 1753 patients admitted from 1848-1959, which included:
|Abuse from Drunken Husbands|
|Cessation of Menses|
|Confinement in Jail|
|Coup de Soliel|
|Defective Education and Dissipation|
|Disappointment in Love|
|Emigration and Disappointment|
|Excessive Use of Medicine|
|Excessive Use of Quinine|
|Excessive Use of Tobacco|
|Fatigue and Anxiety|
|Fear of Want|
|Husbands in California|
|Ill Treatment from Relatives|
|Injury to the Head|
|Loss of Property|
|Loss of Sleep and Exposure|
|Mania a Potu|
|Mexican War Excitement|
|Opposition in Marriage|
|Reading Vile Books|
|Religious Excitement and Anxieties|
|Suppression of the Menses|
|Use of Opium|
|Use of Thompsonian Medicine|
|Want of Occupation|
I entered all the data into a spreadsheet and came up with a few top ten lists.
Top Ten Most Common Causes of Insanity (Men and Women):
Top Ten Most Common Causes of Insanity (Men):
Top Ten Most Common Causes of Insanity (Women):
Interestingly, disappointment in love made it into the top ten causes of insanity for both men and women, but there were more men admitted for this reason than women.
But I digress.
Clearly we have come a long way in understanding mental illness. We no longer hospitalize people for such odd reasons as “husbands in California,” “excessive lactation” or “reading vile books,” and we no longer consider insanity to be a synonym for depression. These are good things. This is progress.
Sadly, many of these patients probably did not require hospitalization, and we’re still struggling to find the right setting for people who are suffering with illnesses that are not easily treated with medicine. Institutionalization often does more harm than good, but trusting a suicidal and/or unpredictable patient to show up to outpatient care without hurting anyone is extremely risky. Unfortunately, treatment of the mentally ill is still largely an exercise in trial and error.
After exploring this collection, I discovered that you can still visit the grounds of Central State Hospital. The Indiana Medical History Museum is located there in the Old Pathology Building – the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation. I visited the museum Saturday afternoon, and nosed around the grounds as much as I could. Most of the buildings are in terrible shape, and part of the city-owned property is now home to the IMPD Mounted Patrol.
But still, it is a fascinating piece of Indiana history to explore – and certainly a unique way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
The Indiana Medical History Museum is located at 3045 West Vermont Street, Indianapolis. Open Thursday-Saturday, 10-4. Guided tours only. Admission is $5.
There are some things about this modern world that I just do not agree with or understand. Tampon commercials, for instance. Not necessary. Also not at all necessary: the never-ending onslaught of male enhancement emails in my spam folder, and erectile dysfunction ads on TV.
For a long time, I assumed humans only had to put up with these things for the last fifty years or so. Perhaps a part of my fascination with history stems from nostalgia for a glorious time in the past when cringe-worthy commercials did not exist.
Well, today I am writing with the sad news that I have been completely wrong in thinking there was such a time. I recently found this ad in a small-town Indiana newspaper from 1897:
Further inspection of this newspaper revealed that the Erie Medical Company advertised in every single issue. Another ad promoted their “wonderful new medical book written for men only: Complete Manhood and How to Attain It.” Another variation:
“Vigor of men easily, quickly, permanently restored. Weakness, nervousness, debility, and all the train of evils from early errors or later excesses, the results of overwork, sickness, worry, etc. Full strength, development and tone given to every organ and portion of the body. Simple, natural methods. Immediate improvement seen. Failure impossible.”
So it would appear that these ads have pretty much always been around. The difference is that the Federal Trade Commission, regulating deceptive advertising, was not established until 1914, which is why the “Erie Medical Company” could make such ridiculous claims as “failure impossible.”
Another big difference is that, while these ads appeared in smaller type than the rest of the paper, usually near the bottom of the page, these kinds of ads appear today on television during prime time. I have witnessed firsthand how this can cause some serious awkwardness.
During my first year as a reference librarian, a mortified mother came into the library one day and explained to me that her 13-year-old son, who “never wants to talk about anything,” asked her this question while they were watching TV the night before: “What is erectile dysfunction?”
She was too embarrassed to talk about it with him, which is why she found herself standing in the middle of a public library talking about it with a complete stranger.
I get that this is tricky territory for me to tackle, since I am not a parent myself. But I was baffled during my time on the reference desk by the number of moms who asked me for a book to explain sex to their kids. Also baffling was that these moms were so picky about which information they wanted their kids to have.
This particular mother, while flipping through one book, came upon an illustration of a girl inserting a tampon alongside an explanation of menstruation. She immediately shut the book and deemed it inappropriate.
“He doesn’t need to know that,” she said.
It struck me then how nice it would be if 13-year-old boys did know a little bit more about what their female peers were dealing with. Perhaps they would be slightly more understanding of how hard it truly is to be a 13-year-old girl.
The moms I encountered also generally did not want their sex books to discuss contraception and/or protection of any kind. They wanted their kids to understand how to have sex, but not how to be smart about it. The books that usually won out included textbook explanations accompanied by cartoon animals, and very little actual information.
I always got the impression that these moms had no intention of discussing these issues with their children before they were forced to address them because of an uncomfortable, unexpected moment in front of the television. I personally do not remember these kinds of ads being on TV when I was growing up; however, I do remember when an episode of Roseanne prompted me to ask this unfortunate question: “Dad, what’s a period?”
His response: “Ask your sister.”
Luckily, my mom was more prepared. She gave my sister and I a book, So That’s How I Was Born, when we were very young. It did have cartoon illustrations, but they were completely age-appropriate at the time. The book was written by a doctor to make children feel comfortable asking their parents questions.
That day at the library, after the horrified mother left with a cartoon book for her teenage son, I pictured this boy at the lunch table the next day, or waiting for the bus in the morning, asking his buddy, “Uh, hey, Tommy, do you know what erectile dysfunction is?”
Tommy might know, but if he doesn’t he probably makes something up for fear of looking stupid, or he pulls the classic, “Yeah, don’t you?” which both ends the conversation and makes the kid feel like a total jackass. The kid’s either going to end up with factual information (highly unlikely), wrong information (quite possible), or no information at all, plus the added bonus of feeling stupid for seeking information in the first place.
Once he’s been shot down by both an adult and a peer, we all know where he will be turning for answers. Yes, the trusty Internet is guaranteed to provide him with plenty of information – and “illustrations” – on this topic.
Too bad mom didn’t just suck it up and answer the question.