Dorothea Dix: Crusader for the Mentally Ill

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Medical treatment for those people with mental illness was virtually nonexistent before Dorothea Dix began her campaign in the 1840s. Some were placed in prisons with hardened criminals, others were left to wander homeless, and still others were locked up in the homes of their families. Dorothea Dix knew her country could do more for these sick people who deserved proper care. She began investigating the living conditions of mentally ill people in the state of Massachusetts. What she found was profoundly shocking and disturbing to her, so much so that it incited her go before the Massachusetts legislature and push for reform. Her perseverance and courage opened the government's eyes to the plight of the mentally ill. This biography captures Dix's crusade as well as the details of her earlier years. The book is part of the "Historical American Biography" series, which highlights other pioneers in U.S. history, such as Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Daniel Boone and Paul Revere. 2001, Enslow, $20.95. Ages 8 up. Reviewer:Sheree Van Vreede
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Herstek's admiration for her subject is clear, yet generally restrained in her portrayal of the woman who survived a difficult childhood to devote her life to the plight of the mentally ill. The author emphasizes Dix's strict religious upbringing and early rebellion against her parents, leading to her conversion to Unitarianism and development of compelling compassion for the downtrodden of society. She paints a portrait of an individual compulsively driven in her dedication, to the point of seriously endangering her own health. She traveled constantly, inspecting hospitals and schools, and lobbying fiercely for legislative protection for the insane. Little personal warmth or humanity shines through in this volume, but the record of the social worker's achievements is staggering in both volume and impact. Ironically, even laboring in her role as superintendent of women nurses for the Union during the Civil War, Dix consistently sidestepped the issue of slavery. The occasional grim-faced photograph of a notable figure involved in her crusade breaks up the text as do several sidebars explaining historical context. The writing is clear but rather dry, conveying little excitement for this remarkable woman. However, the research is sound and thorough, making this a good choice in support of reports.-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780766012585
  • Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Series: Historical American Biographies Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 11 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.47 (d)

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