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.
TSHCRC is a grass roots organization that welcomes donations to support of 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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)]