State Hospital Patients’ “New Look”, 1965

23 04 2012

The following is an excerpt from an Oregon Journal newspaper article published on Tuesday, April 20, 1965.  The changes described would not last long.  By 1969, patient clothing reappeared in the news. Articles in the Capital Journal (May 8th) and Oregon Statesman (May 10th) describe phasing out uniforms at the State Hospital.

By Marge Davenport

Journal Medical Writer

There’s a new look at the State Hospital in Salem.

It’s a bright, cheerful look and the patients are going to have it.

About a year ago, a consultant was asked to make an evaluation on the Oregon mental hospital. He was Dr. Hugh Caven of Eastern State Hospital at Medical Lake, Wash.

After surveying the institution he said, “The grounds are beautiful, the buildings are well kept and painted, but why don’t you paint the patients as well?”

HE EXPLAINED to puzzled State Hospital Administrator Dr. Dean Brooks that he thought nice looking, bright clothes for patients would go a long way towards improving morale, and helping the mental patient’s attitude.

Dr. Brooks agreed, but wondered how this could be accomplished on a yearly clothing budget of $9.79 per patient, the amount allowed for each person for the 12 month period. Read the rest of this entry »


2 05 2011

T2009.002.222 Straitjacket, Oregon State Hospital Museum

This straitjacket is thought to be from the Eastern Oregon State Hospital in Pendleton.  It has a tag in the back that reads “Melrose 4000.”   It is well-worn, and there are patches on both shoulders where the canvas fabric has been torn and repaired.

Another interesting note.  Although this straitjacket was commercially made, a 1918-1920 record book (T2011.002.016) from the OSH sewing department lists straitjackets as one of the many garments that were being produced at the hospital.  Other garments included:  overalls, jumpers, mittens, restraint sheets, white coats, and pants.  The sewing department also pressed and cleaned suits, made alterations and repaired pants.

Supplying a Hospital, 1895

5 10 2009

The Oregon State Insane Asylum advertised for vendors in the Salem paper.  This notice, from the Oregon Statesman December 18, 1895 (transcribed here in full), gives a unique look into the day to day activities of the institution.  The section on drug supplies lists a wide variety of familiar products including opium, sarsaparilla, caffeine, bitter almonds, turmeric, clove oil and cocaine that would probably not be found in a hospital today.  Food suppliers are charged with some almost modern sounding restrictions, requiring dried prunes supplied be “Oregon Raised” and listing specific source countries for coffee products (Costa Rica and Java).  Orders for two dozen corsets, red handkerchiefs, slippers, denim and silesia cast a light on the dress code of the day.



The board of trustees of the Oregon state insane asylum invite sealed proposals for furnishing at the asylum, near Salem, Oregon, for the six months ending June 30, 1896, the following supplies:


1500 yds. Allen prints, assorted patterns, as per sample.

500 yds. Pequot A. sheeting, 45 in., unbleached, as per sample.

500 yds. Lonsdale sheeting, 36 in., bleached as per sample.

1000 yds. French crash linen, bleached, 18 in., as per sample.

500 yds. Glass crash linen, bleached, 18 in., as per sample.

150 yds. Table oil cloth, white, as per sample.

500 yds. Amoskeag blue denims, 9 oz., as per sample.

100 yds. Silesia, drab, as per sample.

2 doz. Corsets as per sample, size 24 to 30.

10 doz. Turkey red handkerchiefs, 24 in.

75 doz. Men’s cotton socks as per sample.

12 doz. B. & W. stay binding, white, as per sample.

½ great gross duplex safety pins No. 3 as per sample.

6 G. gross F.B. shirt buttons, as per sample.

2 G. gross pants buttons, as per sample.

Thread (Coats’ or Clark’s O.N.T.)

            15 dozen No. 40 white.

            5 dozen No. 50 black.

            5 dozen No. 50 white.

            15 dozen No. 40 black.

  Read the rest of this entry »