Thursday, June 29, 2017

Grave of a Famous Person: Dorothea L. Dix - Watertown, MA

Dorothea L. Dix
Mt. Auburn Cemetery
Watertown, MA

N 42° 22.397 W 071° 08.800

Short Description: 

The grave of teacher, author, nurse, and prison and mental health reformer Dorothea Lynde Dix is located along Spruce Avenue at the intersection of Columbine Path in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Long Description:

The grave of Dorothea L. Dix is marked by a simple, unadorned headstone that is inscribed:


Dorothea L. Dix was born on April 4, 1802 in Hampden, Massachusetts (now Maine). She grew up in Worcester MA. Around 1821 she started a school in Boston, serving well-to-do families. Soon she began teaching poor and less fortunate children. While teaching she was the author of many books for children. Ill health forced her to give up teaching.

She then traveled and witnessed the injustices of slavery and developed abolitionist views. Upon traveling to Europe she met reformers who inspired her to start working on equal rights for the mentally ill. Between 1840-41 she conducted a statewide investigations of care for the indigent mentally ill in Massachusetts. She published the first of several influential books titled Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts. She continued her crusade for the mentally ill in several other states. Her efforts were successful in the founding the first public mental hospital, the Harrisburg State Hospital in Pennsylvania. She also became an advocate for prison reform.

During the Civil War, Dix set aside her previous work to focus completely on the war effort. She was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses by the Union Army. In this capacity set guidelines for nurses that she personally trained and hired. At the end of the war, she resumed her crusade to improve the care of prisoners, the disabled, and the mentally ill.

Dorothea L. Dix died on July 18, 1887 in Trenton, NJ at the age of 85. She was honored by the United States Postal Service with a 1 cent stamp in the Great American Series.

Books by Dorothea L. Dix:

The Garland of Flora (botany)
Alice and Ruth
American Moral Tales: For Young Persons
Conversations on Common Things, or Guide to Knowledge: With Questions
Evening Hours
George Mills, or, The Little Boy Who Did Not Love His Books
Hymns for Children
Private Hours
The Trials of a School Girl
The Lady and the President : the letters of Dorothea Dix & Millard Fillmore

Books about mental health and prison reform:

On Behalf of the Insane Poor
Remarks on Prisons and Prison Discipline in the United States
Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts
Fifth Letter to Convicts in State Prisons and Houses of Correction, Or County Penitentiaries
Memorial of Miss D. L. Dix in Relation to the Illinois Penitentiary
Memorial of Miss D. L. Dix to the Hon. The General Assembly in Behalf of the Insane of Maryland

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