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Toledo State Hospital Cemeteries (1888-1973)

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Grave marker 793

For hundreds of years, people with psychiatric, neurological, and medical conditions were often removed from society, sometimes for a lifetime.  In Toledo, many were sent to the state hospital to live out their days. From 1888 until 1973, those who died and weren’t claimed were buried in one of two cemeteries. 1,994 people who had been forgotten in life were also forgotten in death, buried in graves identified by small concrete blocks marked only with the number of their burial. Even these anonymous grave markers were eventually lost underground after decades of neglect. The city grew up around the cemeteries, and the people buried there were forgotten. The Toledo State Hospital Cemeteries became a visible reminder of how society shunned people with disabilities until the late 20th century.

In 2005, The Toledo State Hospital Cemetery Reclamation Committee (TSHCRC), under the auspices of NAMI of Greater Toledo, began working in cooperation with the University of Toledo (the owner of the property which contains the cemeteries) and Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital (previously known as Toledo State Hospital) to restore the cemeteries and proclaim the honor due the people buried there. Grave markers are being located and raised above ground, monuments are being installed, and families are finding their lost ancestors.  

 

This site provides historic and genealogic information to all those interested in hospital and cemetery history. If you have information, photos, artifacts, stories, are researching family members, or are interested in volunteering or donating toward this worthwhile project, we would love to hear from you. Contact us at tshcrp@buckeye-express.com

 

Taken from the diary of a 1902 patient:

“i can not be sup-posed too know the exact day of the month of my incarsera-tion in this toledo State Hospital, for Insaine, yet i claim too have never bin insaine, neather am i senil neather am i a bastard, neather am i a pauper, neather am i a drunkard, neather am i a quarrelsome, neather am i a thief, neather doo i cheat, neather doo i lie, i don't claim too bee any of the vile things that these people have bin trying too make of me, but doo claim too bee an honest, honorable, law abideing, american citican, whose oanly fault is his poverty, and his christian princeiples, and a decendant from one of the oldest famleys in this united states of america, and the first one of a long line of hon-orable ansestors that ever was incarserated in any lunitic asylum....”

 

Photo: Toledo State Hospital Old Cemetery from Arlington Avenue

"The character of a culture is judged by the way it treats its lame, its halt and its disabled." Margaret Mead [ Robinault, ‘Sex, Society and the Disabled’ (1978)]

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Our next work day will be Saturday October 4 at 9am at the old cemetery

Our page on Ancestry.com is now up and running - if you’re intersted in the families of those buried at the cemeteries, it’s full of information.

TSHCRC is a grass roots organization that welcomes donations to support our efforts to restore the State Hospital cemeteries. Tax deductible donations can be made to NAMI of Greater Toledo. For more details see our Donating page.

 

 




 

 

Have any photos of this year’s Memorial ceremonies? Click here