Founding Friends: Families, Staff, and Patients at the Friends Asylum in Early Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia

By Boschma, Geertje | Nursing History Review, January 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Founding Friends: Families, Staff, and Patients at the Friends Asylum in Early Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia


Boschma, Geertje, Nursing History Review


Founding Friends: Families, Staff, and Patients at the Friends Asylum in Early Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia By Patricia D'Antonio (Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2006) (253 pages; $34.50 cloth)

What began as a plan to study the work of nineteenth-century attendants in U.S. asylums for the insane eventually grew into a detailed study of the intricacies of daily life in one institution, the Friends Asylum, founded by Philadelphia's Quaker community in 1817. In Founding Friends, Patricia D'Antonio thoughtfully interprets the institution's early history, from 1814 until 1850, using the diaries of the asylum's lay superintendents as her main source. Aspiring and thought provoking, this concise analysis of the complex interactions among families, staff, and the wider Quaker community has generated a unique book. It provides a detailed new look at the powerful dynamics that drove, and gradually transformed, the daily regimen of work and lay care that were grounded in the asylum's initial ideals of moral treatment.

In a carefully crafted introduction, D'Antonio outlines the framework of the study, building upon a well-established international historiography of the asylum and of relationships among families, communities, and institutions, emphasizing the negotiated nature of asylum care. Her own subjective position as a nurse and historian has shaped her analysis. Nurses, D'Antonio argues, most often intimately involved with families and patients on a day-to-day basis, had an essential role in shaping the actual experience of hospitalization. Nursing is the quintessential discipline that "exists precisely at the intersection of multiple sources of authorities, or, more precisely, at the 'fold,' in the fabric of control, domesticity, and gender," according to D'Antonio (p. 24). The notion of "multiplicities of authorities" (p. 21), informed by Foucault, frames this perspective. The gendered notion of domesticity, central to nineteenth-century reform but with even older roots in Quaker communities, was at the heart of the "virtual domestic space" (p. 53) that the lay community of asylum managers and attendants meant to create in close collaboration with families. These families requested admission for their relatives and envisioned the institution as an extension of their own family. Subtly threaded throughout the book is the provocative story of the Hinchman family, a case study illustrating the dilemmas and challenges, and ultimately legal implications, that Quaker staff and families could face when relatives were admitted.

In six subsequent chapters, chronologically as well as thematically organized, D'Antonio explores the intricate interactions among families, staff, and patients. In attempting to construct the asylum as a family, the lay managers and families followed religious, gendered, and domestic patterns with which they were familiar and in which they deeply believed. They embraced the pedagogic ideals of moral treatment, already worked out in the example of the Quaker York Retreat in London, England, emphasizing a kind, humane environment for patients with just the right amount of stimulating work and leisurely amusement. Yet a treatment that seemed to be a close fit with the Quaker philosophy eventually proved to have its limitations. The book's central theme is that the inherent complexity of dealing with difficult, disruptive, and trying behavior eventually compelled the asylum community to rework the family ideal grounded in a personalized Quaker philosophy into a much more depersonalized, professional approach, shaped more strongly by medicine and science. Eventually, the medical metaphor, as D'Antonio puts it, replaced the lay family ideal, although the appeal of the founding values and the attachment to family approaches remained a powerful inspiration throughout psychiatric history. Yet, in its initial lay form, the "asylum as a family" (p. 103) fell short in balancing the needs of the individual against those of the group. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Founding Friends: Families, Staff, and Patients at the Friends Asylum in Early Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.