Gender, Race, and Class


Newark in the public schools of Newark: A course of study on Newark, its geography, civics and history, with biographical sketches and a reference index Newark (N.J.). Board of Education, J. Wilmer Kennedy

" 'He hasn't all his buttons' "

This text highlights the rights Police Surgeon and Commission of Immigration has on foreigners who may be insane and their admission into the Essex County Hospital. It is notable that they may be sent home within three years of immigrating. However, foreigners have the right to be admissioned into the County Hospital if they established a long-term legal residence and have been in the county for one year.

Therefore, the laws do give them a chance to be admitted locally, but is open-ended and allows them to be returned to their own country.  This document supports the increasing focus on the growing number of those classified as insane during the begining of the 20th century, paired with an influx in immagration to the United States. 


The image includes an excerpt from the annual report of the Commissioner of Charities and Corrections for 1913, speaking on the status of aliens and non-U.S. citizens in a particular U.S. asylum, likely located in New Jersey.

Earlier in this report, the commission mentioned that "those afflicted with these disorders are primarily medical" emphasizing the causes of those with "unsound minds" are rooted in neurological conditions. 

However, the priority of the Commision is providing treatment for those with citizenship.   The choice of wording used in this report from the Commissioner of Charities and Corrections has implications into how the Department viewed alien and non-U.S. citizen mental patients.   The term is also interesting given that "alienist" was a now archiac term for psychiatrist. The excerpt's concluding statement in particular contains terminology that implies the Department is in opposition to the presence and treatment of these individuals in the mental asylum, citing wording such as "expense" and "no claim...morally upon its benevolence."

Treatment choices not only affected those with non-resident status, but also reflected gender dynamics.  Often times, the literature or documentation will reveal a characterization of a frenzied housewife or domestic laborer driven insane by her lot in life.  As this exerpt notes, "Another class of patients who are frequently sent to an asylum for the insane are young married women, the mothers of several children, who have been compelled through poverty to do heavy household work without proper nourishment..."

" 'Pay, women $15.50, men $22.' "

Not only did gender disparities appear in the characterization of mental illness, but they were also present within the nursing profession.  Because Newark's Essex County Hospital for the Insane was not only a psychiatric facility but a teaching hospital, both men and women nurses were recruited for specialized training.  The appointment were open only to residents of New Jersey with preference given to those residing in Essex County.  In addition to 2 weeks vacation and 2 years training, nurses also received a wage - the salary being more generous for men than for women. 

Gender, Race, and Class