Children at Morningside Hospital

It was never clear to me when Morningside Hospital started admitting children. The patient lists during the early years seemed to be populated by miners, gamblers and other who came North to seek their fortunes. By the time Alaska assumed responsibility for providing mental health services to its citizens in 1956, a significant percentage of patients at Morningside were children with developmental disabilities. Some admitted soon after birth.

Photos Children 1923

Record Group 126, Records of the Office of the Territories, National Archives II, College Park, MD

The National Archives II provided the following information from the Department of the Interior files:

On November 9, 1922, Scott C. Bone, the Governor of Alaska, sent a telegram to the Secretary of the Interior asking, “Can mentally defective children of Alaska be committed to Morningside under existing contract  stop  Institution is now equipped to handle such cases.”

The next day, Assistant Secretary of the Interior F. M. Goodwin responded, “Replying your telegram November ninth. Unless mentally defective children of Alaska are legally adjudged to be insane they cannot be cared for at Morningside Hospital under the contract with Sanitarium Company.”

The decision to commit children to Morningside in the same way adults were handled apparently came swiftly. Children were taken before a jury of six men and adjudicated “insane”. The photo above is from 1923.

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