Buried at an Asylum, the ‘Unspoken, Untold History’ of the South

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tags: archaeology



For thousands of patients, a stay at a state asylum in Mississippi ended in unmarked graves.

One man was a former soldier who had “acute mania.” Another was an impoverished farmer who developed dementia from malnutrition because he made sure his children ate before he did. And then there was the woman who was forced into the asylum by her husband, just so he could remarry.

Not much is known about the more than 11,000 patients who died at the state asylum in Mississippi from 1855 until it closed in 1935. But a group of researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson is trying to change that.

This month, the researchers announced their plans to dig up remains from unmarked graves on the former asylum site and preserve them in a memorial and study center. The news has renewed the hopes of descendants that they can find out more about what befell their distant relatives who went into the asylum and never came out. And with those hopes, came the stories.




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