Retiring PSH Supervisor Recalls Major Changes

17 09 2012

The following article was found in a scrapbook in the Oregon State Hospital Museum Collections.  From the text it appears that it was published in the Oregon Statesman Newspaper in 1965, although exact publication date is unknown.

Charles Robinson, whose service as a psychiatric aide and a supervisor of aides stretches to the days when the OSH was known as the state insane asylum,* will be honored by hospital employees Wednesday as he retires.

Robinson, who was 65 in January, has been a hospital employee since 1934, except for three years in the service in world War II.  Since 1945 he has been supervisor of aides.

More Pleasant today.

Services as a mental hospital aide has never been easy, but it’s a more pleasant job now than it was before the advent of drugs, Robinson recalls.

Treatment in 1934 was custodial only for the vast majority of patients; about 2100 were crowded into the old Center building and the Dome building at OSH.

“I was scared to death for the first five or six weeks,”  Robinson recalls. “In those days they just handed you the keys, sent you to a ward and you went to work.” Read the rest of this entry »

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A Visit to the Oregon State Hospital, 1916

5 08 2012

This is an excerpt from the Oregon Teacher’s Monthly magazine published in May 1916 (volume 20, no. 9).  Oregon Teacher’s Monthly featured articles written by teachers, students and administrators related to general interest topics and had a news section with a county by county listings of school-related events.  We came across this issue in the holdings of the Oregon State Library.  This excerpt is chapter 10 in a series of articles written by Frank K. Welles, Assistant State Superintendent of Public Instruction, on state institutions.  The information he presents appears to have come from studying published reports of the hospital and a personal tour.

 OUR OREGON STATE INSTITUTIONS

The Oregon State Hospital

 Some of the school children who will read this article have never visited a hospital for the insane and will be interested to know what such an institution looks like, how the hundreds of patients are cared for, what they do and how they live.  The modern hospital for the insane is quite a different institution from what it used to be.  Now it is indeed a hospital for the treatment of persons with deranged minds, most of whom also have some physical ailment, rather than simply an asylum for the detention and safe-keeping of the insane.

Oregon has two hospitals for the insane.  One is situated just east of the city limits of Salem and the other is a short distance west of Pendleton in Umatilla county.  The Eastern Oregon State Hospital was built during 1911 and 1912 and is modern in every respect.  As soon as this institution was completed, 325 patients were transferred to it from the Salem hospital in order to relieve the over-crowded condition at the latter place.  As far as possible, the insane from Eastern Oregon are sent to Pendleton and those from Western Oregon to Salem. The number of insane is increasing so rapidly that the last legislature authorized the construction of a new $100,000 wing to the Pendleton hospital.  This has recently been completed.  There is also a fine farm in connection with that institution.  The last report of the superintendent shows that there are now about 379 insane persons at the Pendleton hospital. Read the rest of this entry »





George F. Berger

15 07 2012

In 1905, 48 people were admitted to the Oregon State Insane Asylum with a diagnosis of “alcoholism” and 16 for syphilitic symptoms.[1]  George F. Berger was one of those people.

Berger was born in Wisconsin in April of 1869 to Frank and Margaret Berger, Germans who had immigrated to the United States from what is now Baden-Württemberg.[2]  His family, including an older sister Mary, farmed in Randolph, Courtland, Columbia County, Wisconsin.[3]

Sometime between 1870 and 1880, the family moved to Oregon.  By the 1880 Federal Census, George was 12 years old and living on Olive Street in Eugene.  Father Frank is no longer in the picture and mother Margaret is going by the last name of Haney, suggesting she may have remarried.  With a two year old brother named Jacob Berger, it would further suggest that George’s father died or left sometime between 1878 and 1880, leaving George as the man of the house at a very young age.

Due to an unfortunate fire which destroyed the 1890 Federal Census, we are forced to pick up George’s trail again in Oregon City in 1896 when we find him working as a bartender for Thomas Trembrath.[4]  Four years later, he had moved back to his mother’s 5th Street home in Eugene, where he and his now 21-year-old brother both worked as bartenders.[5] Berger did not keep a low profile after his move back to Eugene.  He was arrested and fined for gambling at least twice.  As a 1903 Oregonian article reported: Read the rest of this entry »





State Hospital Jewish Rites Inaugurated, 1961

2 04 2012

The following was published in the Oregon Statesman newspaper on April 3, 1961, page 2.

Jewish Passover services with traditional ceremonial Seder dinner was observed Sunday night at the Oregon State Hospital for patients of that faith and their guests.  It is the first time a Jewish religious observance has been held at the institution, hospital authorities said.

They termed it a “complete success” and hospital protestant chaplain John M. Humphreys said: “we’re hoping to be able to hold more Jewish services in the future.”

The Jewish festival, commemorating exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their safe flight across the Red Sea, was sponsored by the Jewish Family and Children Read the rest of this entry »





Blaze Destroys State Hospital Farm Barns, 1931

19 03 2012

The following is an article from the Oregon Statesman published May 31, 1931.

Blaze Destroys Two State Hospital Farm Barns, Loss $40,000

Excited Inmate Dashes Into Inferno, Saved With Shirt Burned

——–

Believed Incendiary; Cattle all Saved, Two by Force

Fire thought to be incendiary totally destroyed two large barns at the state hospital farm, four and one half miles east of here, at 9:15 o’clock last night.  The loss on the structures and the contents is estimated at $40,000.

More than 100 head of cattle had been turned out only a few hours before the flames started.  None of these were lost although two bulls, at large after keepers had loosed them, started back into the flames but were repelled by their keepers.

Man Rushes Back, Shirt Burned Off

No inmates of the hospital farm were in the barns when the flames were seen but one man, apparently deranged by the fire, started back into the blaze.  Keepers rescued him but not until his shirt was burned.  It was necessary to handcuff him to keep him away from the fire.

Attendants at the state hospital farm did not discover the flames until they had started to lick their way through the roof of the large barn.  The headway the fire had gained inclined them to the theory that some inmate had started the blaze.  A few years ago a state hospital inmate started another fire. Read the rest of this entry »





P.A.N. Program, 1961

5 03 2012

The following is a transcription from the July/August 1961 edition of The Lamplighter, a monthly magazine published by the patients of the Oregon State Hospital.  The article addresses the the Patients as Nurses or P.A.N. program.

PAN

This three-letter title is highly meaningful at O.S.H.  It is an appropriate title of an important phase of our Industrial Therapy.

P.A.N. is less than two years young.  It had its inception in January 1960.

Enroll for the class yourself and find out just what it means.

You can really become a needed, if not indispensable, person during your stay as a patient at O.S.H.

The red and white P.A.N. on the gray uniforms signifies that a man or woman has successfully completed a four weeks’ course in care of sick patients.

Patients able and willing to assist aides and nurses may now have the privilege of getting all the “know-how.”

You can equip yourself with new skills and techniques.  You can learn how to best give of your time and services.  At the completion of your course, you find yourself able to skillfully give a three-minute back rub; you can lift without hurting your back; and you can give tender, loving care (T.L.C.) to folks whose afflictions make your own small problems so tiny that you can see them only with the aid of a microscope. Read the rest of this entry »





Oregon State Insane Asylum Staff, 1908-1910

22 12 2011

The following is a transcribed staff list from the Biennial Report of the Oregon State Insane Asylum for the Biennium covering the years 1908 -1910.  The list includes information on staff members, their positions, and monthly salary.  Also cross-referenced, is the 1910 Federal Census shows the marital status, age in 1910 and birthplace of some of the staff members.

Read the rest of this entry »