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Dorothea Lynde Dix

Updated Mar 08, 2017
Ancient Faces
Ancient Faces shared a photo
on Dec 25, 2011 5:41 PM
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A photo of Dorothea Lynde Dix. Daughter of Joseph Dix and Mary Bigelow, she was born on April 4, 1802 in Hampden, Maine. In 1821, Dorothea opened a school in Boston for wealthy families but she also taught poor children in their homes. She had recurring heath issues that eventually led to her touring Europe for "rest and relaxation." While in Europe, she became interested in working on equal rights for the mentally ill and when she returned to the U.S., she brought her interests with her. In Massachusetts and New Jersey, she worked tirelessly for reforms in the treatment of the mentally ill and was instrumental in creating a state facility in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Her lobbying and efforts led to hospitals being established for the mentally ill in the U.S. and Canada and also led to international reforms.

During the Civil War, she was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses by the Union Army, setting guidelines for army nurses (volunteers were to be aged 35 to 50 and plain-looking - making them unattractive to the soldiers!). She is best remembered for her insistence on equal care for both Union and Confederate soldiers.

After the Civil War, she returned to crusading for improving the care of prisoners, the disabled, and the mentally ill. While she was an invalid (due to contracting malaria) towards the end of her life, Dorothea never gave up fighting for the rights of these often marginalized groups.
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AncientFaces commented on Mar 08, 2017
Dorothea Dix was one of the many women who led reforms in American society - her focus being on the education of women and better treatment of the mentally ill in the 1800's. She accomplished a lot in her 85 years!
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