Dorothea Dix: A Woman with a Passion for Social Reform
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"There are few cases in history where a social movement of such proportions can be attributed to the work of a single individual" (Kovach) At the age of thirty-nine, a woman by the name of Dorothea Dix devoted the rest of her life as an advocate to the humane attitude toward the mentally ill. She traveled the world from state to state visiting each and every prison, almhouse, asylum, orphanage, and hidden hovel documenting everything and anything she saw. After her intricate study of what she had been a witness of she wrote a letter or "memorial" and presented it to a legislator she knew who would present it to each legislature in each state she had studied. Dorothea Dix was the pioneering force in the movement to reform the treatment of the mentally ill in America by devoting her entire life to the betterment of all people.
Dorothea Lynne Dix was a social reformer dedicated to changing conditions for people who were incapable of helping themselves. Her passion for helping people who couldn't aid themselves started at a young age. She was born on April 4, 1802, in the town of Hampden in Maine. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was a frail person susceptible to many illnesses. Dorothea was the oldest of all her siblings, so she grew up taking care of her younger brothers and sisters. Yet, at the age of ten, Dorothea ran away to Boston and went to live with her grandmother, who agreed to train and educate her. Dorothea was taught by her father as a young girl, and therefore was an avid reader and quick learner with Grandmother Dix. (Buckmaster 10-20) Dorothea, a very self-conscious and shy girl, didn't fit into the society of Boston and therefore was sent by her grandmother to live with her aunt. Her...
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...spital for six years. (Gollaher 111)
Throughout Dorothea Dix's career of about forty years she accomplished an astonishing amount of things. Through her hard work fourteen states passed bills for the humane treatment of the mentally ill, thirty-two hospitals were built, fifteen schools for the feeble-minded, a school for the blind, and numerous facilities for the training of nurses. She was an indirect inspiration to the building of hundreds of other buildings and institutions for the mentally ill and was also very influential in the proper establishment of other prisons, and mental hospitals of course. If not for the passion of Dorothea Dix who knows where we would currently stand with the issues of the mentally ill and the environment within prisons. Dorothea Dix was the pioneering force in the movement to reform the treatment of the mentally ill in America.