The Very Early Years

The following post comes from the website of the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) from a paper written by Olof Larsell, an Oregon medical historian.

Larsell writes: “The gold rush to Alaska, beginning in 1897, had burdened the federal government with responsibility for gold seekers whose minds broke under the hardships and strain of their search for quick wealth. The nearest mental hospitals were at Steilacoom, Washington, and Salem, Oregon. On January 16, 1901, the Oregon State Insane Asylum, at the request of the United States government, entered into a contract to care for the Alaska insane at $20.00 per month per patient.”

Larsell goes on to suggest that this contract was renewed one time, again for a year, in 1902. No mention is made of the Morningside Hospital here in Larsell’s narrative, but surely some of these same forces were at work in Morningside’s contract with Alaska to care for the mentally ill. All Larsell knew for certain was that “sometime prior to 1904 the Department of the Interior had entered into negotiations with Doctor Coe [of Morningside] with reference to the care of the insane in Alaska.”

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