Museum Taking Shape

21 08 2012

Ward Hall Exhibit taking shape

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Communication Center, 1963

19 08 2012

The following description of the Comm Center and its duties was published in a 1963 open house brochure at the Oregon State Hospital.  In 1963, the Comm Center was located in the Kirkbride building just to the southeast of the building’s main entrance.  Later it moved to the 35 building (Breitenbush Hall)  on the north side of Center Street.  The new Comm Center is located in the new hospital entrance, just to the southeast of the Kirkbride building as seen in photo  below.

The new Comm Center constructed as part of the Oregon State Hospital Replacement Project. Photo HOK Design Firm.

 The Communications Center at Oregon State Hospital could also be known as the “nerve center” as much because of its activities as its location.

Visitors to the hospital naturally gravitate to the Center Building because of its imposing architecture and there, just inside the front door, personnel of the Communication Center are ready to give directions or general hospital information, to handle merchandise for Volunteer Services, to locate staff members for visitors, and to assist patients who might encounter difficulties while away from their wards.

The hospital switchboard service is located in the Communications Center and here all hospital mail is distributed.

The staff here also arranges the dispatching of hospital cars and ambulances to transport patients to and from the hospital.

Communications Center personnel assume the responsibility for a myriad of other small Read the rest of this entry »





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 »





Cataloging Update

30 07 2012

The Oregon State Hospital Museum received a matching grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission for materials to aid in cataloging and rehousing artifacts at the Oregon State Hospital.  We turned in our interim grant report today with the results of the cataloging efforts.  To date we have cataloged over 4423 individual items representing 522 different types of materials.  These include everything from chairs (44) to alarms (3) to theracycles (2).

The grant has allowed the museum to purchase PastPerfect museum software, an electronic database which will allow us to track individual items.  The database now has records* for:

  • 1508 Objects
  • 93 Photos
  • 219 Archival Collections
  • 162 Library Materials

Each record has space for us to attach a photo of the material and fields to track size, medium, type, creator, place of origin, etc.  The great part about this database is that we can also tag records with different categories and names, which will make finding materials for exhibits and research much easier.

The second half of the grant project includes purchasing archival quality storage materials to help us rehouse the collections and preserve them for future generations.  This will mean replacing the wadded newspaper used to quickly pack materials before the building was torn down.

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 »





Tennis Racket, 2012.001.006

9 07 2012

With Wimbledon wrapping up, we thought we would highlight this very interesting piece of tennis history found in the recreational therapy supplies at the Oregon State Hospital.  The most striking feature of this wooden tennis racket (2012.001.006), is the color portrait of a young woman named Maureen Connolly, at one time one of the most accomplished tennis players in the world.

Before the Williams Sisters, Graff, Navratilova and even Billie Jean King, Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly became the first woman ever to win a Grand Slam — winning all four Grand Slam events in a calendar year — which she did in 1953.  Did we mention she was just a teenager at the time?

Her accomplishments are incredible considering the length of her career.  A horse riding accident, led to her retirement from tennis at the tender age of 19, just two weeks after she won her third consecutive Wimbledon title. Read the rest of this entry »





Watchman, 1908

4 07 2012

The following is the description of duties of the watchman and watchwomen employed by the Oregon State Hospital as spelled out in the Rules and Regulations for the Government of the Oregon State Insane Asylum, Revised April 15, 1908.

WATCHMAN

1. The duties of the watchman will commence at 8 o’clock P.M., at which time he will visit the office to receive instructions for the night.

2. He must, while on duty, be faithful and vigilant; visit every part of the male wards at least every hour during the night, making as little noise as possible, never conversing in a loud tone, and opening and shutting the doors as quietly as possible.

3.  He must be kind, gentle, and soothing in his manners to the patients, and use every means in his power to tranquilize those who are excited, and to allay the fears and apprehensions of the timid; he will pay particular attention to the sick, the suicidal, and those recently admitted; will see that the patients are properly supplied with water when it is asked for, and will attend to all other reasonable wants;  will notice any unusual noise in the patients’ rooms, endeavor to ascertain the cause, and, if necessary, report the same to the attendant.  He will notice anything unusual occurring during the night, and enter the same on a a slate or book provided for the purpose [see example of book here], and he shall report any irregularities, neglect of duty or violation of rules which may come under his notice.

4.  It will be the duty of the watchman to look after the heating apparatus during the night; he must be very watchful about fire, and, in case of its occurrence must immediately give general alarm;  he shall ring the bell at the hour for rising in the morning, and he shall perform such other duties as may be required of him.

WATCHWOMAN

1.  The watchwoman shall have charge of the interior of the female department during the night.  In the management of the patients, and in the discharge of other duties, she must be governed by the rules and regulations laid down for the government of the watchman.