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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Medfield State pictures on display at Harvard


A scene from Medfield Insane Asylum, c. 1903
(Unidentified artist, courtesy Harvard University)


The Medfield State Hospital may have closed in 2003, but photographs of the institution in its heyday can be seen in a new exhibition at Harvard University's Arthur M. Sackler Museum.

The exhibition, "Classified Documents: The Social Museum of Harvard University, 1903-1931," showcases more than 100 photographs taken in the early 1900s of social conditions and institutions across the country.

The photos document what was then called the Medfield Insane Asylum, the first state-operated institution for chronic cases of insanity in Massachusetts.

Others were taken at New York's Institute for Feeble-minded Children and Ellis Island's Immigrant Station. The original collection was intended to encourage contemplation and a comparison of how society treats its most vulnerable members. The exhibition will be on display through June 10.

-- Charlie Russo

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