Dorothea Dix

-Date of Birth: April 4, 1802
-Date of Death: July 17,1877
-Hometown: Born in Hampden, Maine. Grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts
-Education: Studied Mental Health
-Family: father- Joseph Dix, mother- Mary Bigelow Dix, she also had two younger brothers.
-Life As a Child: Dorothea's family was very poor, she was often sent to live with her grandparents in Boston. At the age of 14 Dorothea became a teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts and opened a school in 1821.

How did this person influence American History?

Dorothea Dix was a reformer who thought government should help people. She was on a mission to improve conditions for the mentally ill, after she saw that mentally ill women were housed in underground chambers in filthy, frigid conditions. She visited numerous poor houses and prisons and documented the conditions she saw. Dorothea was able to secure funding after presenting her ideas to a Massachusetts legislature named Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe through a "memorial" that was submitted to appropriately house and care for the mentally ill. A memorial was a pamphlet that a woman could express her ideas and submit them to government, it was the only way women could participate in political life. Dorothea was known for her work that inspired others, she was one of the most effective humanitarian reformers in our history.

What did this person do?

Dorothea Dix was able to gain many supporters. New hospitals were built for the mentally ill in 32 states. In the new hospitals the conditions were much better than what Dix saw in the old prisons. Dorothea had published a few books, Conversations on Common Things was published in 1824. This book was aimed toward parents to help them answer various questions there children have. Dorothea had an extensive knowledge of the natural world, and this knowledge can be seen in her other books such as American Moral Tales for Young Persons, 1832. The Garden of Flora, 1829, and Meditations for Private Hours, 1828. Many of her books featured religious poetry and moral lessons.

Supporters and Friends

-Horace Mann, A famous educator.
-Charles Sumner, An abolitionist.
-Samuel Gridley Howe, Head of the Perkins Institute for the blind.
-New England Reformers

Critics and enemies

-Federal Legislation, Congress felt that the decisions should be left to the states.

"Fun Facts"

-Trained women who would serve as nurses in the Civil War, she was also the Superintendent of Nurses for the Union Army.
-She lived on the grounds of the New Jersey State Hospital, which was the first hospital that she influenced, she stayed there until she died.