Congratulations Mr. Mommsen!, 1958

2 11 2011

Dr. Dean K. Brooks, Governor Robert Holmes and Thomas Mommsen accepting award.  The Suggestor.  May 1958.The following is an article from the May 1958 edition of The Suggestor, a newsletter published by the Oregon State Employee Awards Board.

Congratulations, Mr. Mommsen!

After switching his attention from cutting meat to cutting costs, THOMAS N. MOMMSEN, meat cutter at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, was presented a $400 award.  In the above picture Mommsen, on the right, is shown receiving his award from Governor ROBERT D. HOLMES as State Hospital Superintendent DEAN BROOKS looks on approvingly at the left.

Mommsen’s suggestion, which also won high praise from Gov. Holmes, involved processing and freezing of meat available from the hospital’s dairy herd and subtracting the amount from the hospital’s monthly contract for beef.  This will result in a reduction of 37,000 lbs. of meat that need to be purchased and will save the State and estimated $9,252 per year. Read the rest of this entry »





OSH Campus according to Engineer Garson, 1958

3 10 2011

Auditorium, Oregon State Hospital, Oregon State Archives Photo, OSH 00018

The following is an interview with Engineer J.A. Garson published in the October 1958 edition of the Lamplighter, an OSH newsletterThe article coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Oregon State Hospital, and many early staff members and patients are interviewed or profiled. 

When Mr. Garson came to the hospital in 1919, it looked much different than it does now.  For example, from 24th to 21st streets there were hospital orchards of walnut trees.  Where the treatment and surgical buildings sit were poultry and pheasant farms for OSH.  The doctor’s cottages were not in existence, and in their place were berry fields.  The machine shop was located where what is now the freezing department.  The morgue building, 1896, is what is today the paint shop.  The Tailoring Shop, Carpenter Shop were all where the Quonset hut is now located.  Mrs. Steiner, with her superintendent husband, planned the landscaping of the grounds and due to patient labor they were completed.  Read the rest of this entry »





History of Nursing Education, 1958

19 09 2011

The following was published in the 75th Anniversary edition of the Oregon State Hospital publication, The Lamplighter, as reported by Grace Carman.  The article refers to the Senior Cadet Nurses program, a three month intensive course in psychiatric nursing which consisted of lectures and hands-on experience under the supervision of the hospital’s registered nurses.

Fourteen years ago, the first of April 1944 to be exact, something quite new happened to the Oregon State Hospital.

A small but dynamic young woman came out from Menninger Clinic at Topeka, Kansas to establish an affiliate school for student nurses.  Miss Tina Deurksen was her name.

It was pretty rough going at first for many at the hospital found it hard to see what good could ever come of having young students on the wards.  The directors and staff of the affiliating schools found it hard to see how three months of psychiatric study would help their students be better nurses.  “What a waste of valuable time” they moaned. Read the rest of this entry »





America’s Asylums in Photographs

5 09 2011

OSH Cremains Canister from Payne's book

NPR featured a story on photographer Christopher Payne’s book titled Asylum: Inside The Closed World Of State Mental Hospitals.  Read the article here.  You can see more of Payne’s photographs of Asylums across the country including the Harlem Valley State Hospital, Willard State Hospital, Bolivar State Hospital, Spring Grove State Hospital and more at his website here.





Property Cards

5 09 2011

Probably the most interesting and emotional thing I have found in inventorying historic materials at the Oregon State Hospital was a box of index cards.  The orange box didn’t look like much, but the cards inside were a time capsule highlighting a very personal side of institutional commitment.  These property cards list patient’s personal possessions that were confiscated upon commitment to the hospital for safe keeping.  Below is a sampling of some of the materials listed on the patient property cards:






Wilderness as Therapy

1 08 2011

In 1972, 51 Oregon State Hospital patients and 51 Oregon State Hospital staff spent 16 days on a wilderness trip in Eastern Oregon.  It was an experimental, and perhaps radical, program designed to radically change the lives of its participants.

The idea for the expedition came when then Superintendent Dr. Dean K. Brooks witnessed transformations in a group of Girl Scouts undergoing a workshop with world-renown climber Lute Jerstad.  As a reporter quotes: “Last year he [Dr. Brooks] watched an adventure camp Jerstad ran for Girl Scouts and decided that if young people could change roles so dramatically when encouraged to face challenges of white water rafting, wilderness survival and rock climbing, it might also help the mentally ill develop new self-concepts.”[1]

Read the rest of this entry »