Harriet B. (#345, 1910)

Harriet B. (1858-1910)

Harriet was born in Indiana in 1858. By the time she was in her late 20s, she was living at the Shelby County Poor Farm. In the late 19th century, poor farms or county homes housed everyone from people experiencing poverty and disability to orphaned children. Harriet experienced seizures diagnosed as epilepsy and had congenital deformities of her left arm and leg.

In 1888 30-year old Harriet was admitted to Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane (later Central State Hospital.) Her admission paperwork says she was reclusive, destructive, suicidal, and had delusions and hallucinations. In 1890 she was transferred to Eastern Hospital for the Insane in Richmond. Her records indicate that she was “unimproved” when she was transferred back to Central in 1891.

Nineteen years later, Harriet died at the hospital from a seizure and pulmonary tuberculosis, which was especially common at the time  among the poor in crowded cities and institutions. Harriet died in 1910 having spent approximately half of her life institutionalized.

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