Today in 1949 – Ezra Pound is awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.
At the time Pound, an American, was locked in St. Elizabeths mental hospital in Washington, D.C., where he stayed for 12 years. He had been charged with treason but was never tried. His fellow artists helped secure his release in 1958, and he went to Italy, where he died in 1972. Here’s his mug shot when he was arrested.
Today in Mental Health History —> Today in 1773 America’s first insane asylum opens.
This was Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, originally known as “The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds”.
It was originally brutal:
Though the aim was noble, the practices were brutal by modern standards. Bleeding, bullying, blistering salves, and electrocution were all standard treatments. This was changed under the supervision of Dr. John Galt, who believed the mentally ill were entitled to dignity and could be reintegrated with society.
Galt also knew that just because the patients were crazy didn’t mean they weren’t witty. It is said that when hospital sponsor John D. Rockefeller strolled through the grounds and introduced himself to an inmate, the inmate replied, “Oh sure. And I’m Napoleon Bonaparte.” Thanks to a donation from Rockefeller, the hospital was moved about 3 miles west to Dunbar Farms, to accommodate its large patient population.