Opening Reception and Curator Talk for Deprived of the Use of Their Reason: Quakerism & the Curability of Mental Illness at Friends' Asylum 1817-1867

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
4:30 PM - 6:30 PM (ET)
Event Type
Reception/Community Gathering
Hochberg, Rachel A

Opening Reception and Curator Talk

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
4:30pm, Magill lobby and Sharpless Gallery 

Exhibit runs August 28 - October 15, 2017 in Sharpless Gallery 

When Friends’ Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of their Reason opened its doors in 1817, it offered something new to the Quakers of Philadelphia: a promise to cure insanity. The first private mental hospital in the United States, its designation as an “asylum” marked it as an institution that provided assistance to people in need.  The founders of Friends’ Asylum sought to alleviate the tensions that insanity, understood as deviance from nineteenth-century standards of rationality, caused for Philadelphia’s Quaker families. Friends’ Asylum drew on techniques from a variety of traditions to cure insanity and restore patients to their families. It grounded its therapies in the culture and spirituality of Quaker communities, in contemporary ideas about health and reason, and in the expertise of medical science. This exhibit includes Friends' Asylum records and other related materials from Quaker & Special Collections, and comes out of the Quakers and Mental Health digital project, found at

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