The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry: A History of Misery and Medicine

The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry: A History of Misery and Medicine

by J.P. Webster


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The Quaker City and its hospitals were pioneers in the field of mental health. Yet by the end of the nineteenth century, its institutions were crowded and patients lived in shocking conditions. The mentally ill were quartered with the dangerously criminal. By 1906, the city had purchased a vast acreage of farmland incorporated into the city, and the Philadelphia Hospital dubbed its new venture Byberry City Farms. From the start, its history was riddled with corruption and committees, investigations and inquests, appropriations and abuse. Yet it is also a story of reform and redemption, of heroes and human dignity--many dedicated staff members did their best to help patients whose mental illnesses were little understood and were stigmatized by society. Join author J.P. Webster as he explores the fascinating and complex history of the Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626190825
Publisher: History Press, The
Publication date: 05/14/2013
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 591,332
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

J.P. Webster is an avid Philadelphia historian, amateur photographer and urban explorer. His photos have been published in the Northeast Times, City Paper, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Germantown Crier. John is a member of the Northeast Philadelphia and Frankford Historical Societies.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 9

Preface 11

1 Mental Healthcare in the Quaker City: The Origins of Byberry 15

2 The Blockley Colony at Byberry Farms: Philly's Funny Farm 23

3 Building Bedlam: The Crooked Construction Process 41

4 The Philadelphia Hospital for Mental Diseases: The City Years 51

5 The Philadelphia State Hospital: The State Years 87

6 The New Approach: Deinstitutionalization at Byberry 119

7 The End of an Era: The Closure of PSH 143

8 The Rediscovery of a Discarded Past: The Years of Abandon 157

Sources 163

Index 173

About the Author 175

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The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry: A History of Misery and Medicine 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow ! Here's a wonderfully chronicled history of the notorious Byberry Mental Hospital, that reads almost like a novel. It's a compelling read. It's also a wide reaching informational on how mental illness was treated throughout Philadelphia's history. I was impressed. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved every part of this book. I highly recommend it as a summer read or as a gift  for Father's Day , Halloween as a treat and Birthday present for the History and Asylum buffs. Also for local history buffs from Somerton, Parkwood, Millbrook, Chalfont, Northeast Philly and Bensalem The FIRST book written on BYBERRY !!! Finally!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing! A skillfully told story, and long overdue. Worth the read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a story, and it's all real. This one pulled me in and served up some shock. I found myself staring at some of the pictures, they were interesting.
JennayG More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for two reasons...I'm a former nurse of the Mental Health field, and I love reading about the history of Philadelphia. This did not disappoint. My only "criticism" of this book would be that there weren't more patient stories; it would have made the book more personable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was AMAZING. Right when i first started reading i knew it was going to be great. I highly recomend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing and really tells the true story of the pain and poor conditions the patients went through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the free sample before buying book and it led me to think the book would be more about the patients however most of the book is about the funding . Big let down, being from Philadelphia I remember reading about byberry and recall driving pass there as a child and seeing people walking around the grounds half naked.