She was born in Hampden, Maine in the year 1802. Dorothea Dix was an author, a teacher and as well as a reformer. She was an American activist who led on behalf of the indigent insane. She was a social reformer whereby she was devoted towards the welfare of the people who were mentally ill because of this it led to the spread of reforms internationally (Brown, Thomas J). Dorothea created the first generation of American mental asylums. It was after a vigorous program that involved lobbying of the state legislatures and as well as the United States Congress which took her 40 years. She acted as the Superintendent of Army Nurses during the Civil War period. He had learned a lot of skills from his father such as writing which later helped him be in a position to make decisions in life. She was from a troubled background and was an impoverished youth, and this served as a galvanizing force in her entire career lifetime (Wilson, Dorothy Clarke).
In the year 1819 Dorothea Dix she founded the Dix Mansion in Boston which there was a school for the girls as well as a charity school where girls from low-income families and background attended without paying any fee. When she was not teaching, she would stay in her room and write devotional books for children as well as textbooks. Her teaching was affected when she started to suffer from her poor health (Forrester, David Anthony) .It was during the year 1841when Dix discovered about the treatment of prisoners especially those that were mentally ill she noticed that even their living quarters were unregulated and unhygienic and those criminals who were so violent were kept together with the mentally ill people. The inmates were most of the times subjected to the whims and brutalities of their jailers. During this period she was teaching Sunday school at a womens prison which was at East Cambridge. It is because of this that led her going to the court to get an order so as to be able to provide heat for the prisoners as well as other improvements which were needed. The situation made her research more about the conditions of the prisons and as well as those of the poor houses and took a proposal to the Massachusetts legislature who increased the budget which was meant to expand the State Mental Hospital located in Worcester. She stated and gave examples to several related cases as to why it was important for the state to take responsibility to that class of the unfortunate people. The first public mental hospital she founded was in Pennsylvania which was called Harrisburg State Hospital and later in the year 1853 she managed to establish its library and its reading room.
She aimed for the bill for the benefit of the indigent insane toward the legislation for it to set aside around 12,225,000 acres of the Federal land which were meant to be used to the advantage of the insane people like the blind, deaf and the dumb or those individuals with disabilities. Later the proceeds that were gotten were to be then distributed to the states so as to build and as well enhance the maintenance of asylums (Bryan, Willie V).
During the period of the Civil war in the year, 1861 Dix did voluntary services, and this led to her being named as superintendent of nurses. The reason she was appointed was to organize and outfit the Union Army hospitals and oversee the large nursing staff that was required during the war period. Here she was the one responsible for setting up the field hospitals, first-aid stations, recruitment of the nurses, management of supplies and she also used to set up programs for training. It was due to her qualities that led to her appointment she was a successful crusader, independence and had a single-minded zeal. Dix didn't want to send the attractive young women to the hospitals this is because she feared that they would be exploited by the men who were there. She would fire any volunteer job who she did not train. Dix was respected because she showed so much dedication to her work throughout the war. (Wood, Alice Davis)
When the war was coming to an end, she helped to raise funds for the national monument towards the deceased soldiers at the Fortress Monroe. After that, she resumed her career which was meant to improve the living conditions of the prisoner's, those people who were disabled and those individuals who were mentally ill. After her hard work and dedication for several months, she was removed from her position, stripped off the authority by the fall of 1863 and then later sent home.
The rewards she received
She was elected as the president for life of the Army Nurses Association but had nothing much to do with the organization which she opposed its efforts to get the military pensions for its members
In December 1866 Dix was awarded two national flags for the service, she offered during the civil war period. It was an award in appreciation for the care, Succor, and relief of those soldiers who fell sick and wounded during the duration of the war.
The United Postal Service also honored her they did this by issuing of a Dorothea Dix Great Americans series postage stamp in the year 1983.
Her life was honored because of her services and charity, and hence she was given the Dorothea Dix Great Americans series postage stamp.
A United States Navy ship that was used during the period of the World War 2 was named after her.
In August 2006 the Bangor mental hospital was changed its name and called after her to Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Centre.
In remembrance of her, a crater on Venus was named after her Dix.
An educational boat in Canada was named after her by the Nova Scotia Sea School which was triggered by her support towards the lifesaving station.
Dorothea Dix is remembered because of the Boston Womens Heritage Trail
A lot of locations are referred by the mention of her name, for example, the Dixmont Hospital located in Pennsylvania, the Dix Ward in Mclean Asylum at Somerville and as well as the Dorothea L.Dix house.
Dorothea Dix can be considered as the most innovative as well as an active advocate towards the humanitarian reformist in the nineteenth century in the American mental institutions since she enhanced the establishment of the mental hospitals in America such as New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland and Europe. She helped people change their perceptions towards people who mentally ill, the deaf or the blind.Dix lived a long and productive life which she spent while serving the society and community at large most of it. She died at the age of 85 in the year 1887 at the New Jersey hospital which had been established in her honor. After her death, she was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Bryan, Willie V. Sociopolitical Aspects of Disabilities. 1st ed., Springfield, Charles C Thomas Publisher, LTD, 2010.
Brown, Thomas J. Dorothea Dix. 1st ed., Cambridge, Mass. [U.A.], Harvard Univ. Press, 1998.
Forrester, David Anthony. Nursing's Greatest Leaders. 1st Ed.
Wilson, Dorothy Clarke. Stranger and Traveler. 1st ed., 1975.
Wood, Alice Davis. Dorothea Dix and Dr. Francis T. Scribbling. 1st ed., [Place Of Publication Not Identified], Xlibris, 2008.
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