Dorothea Dix, American Reformer

- Image ID: HRKRAB
Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: HRKRAB
Dorothea Lynde Dix (April 4, 1802 - July 17, 1887) was an American activist on behalf of the indigent insane who, through a vigorous program of lobbying state legislatures and the United States Congress, created the first generation of American mental asylums. During the Civil War, she served as Superintendent of Army Nurses by the Union Army, beating out Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. Her even-handed caring for Union and Confederate wounded alike, which may not have endeared her to Radical Republicans, assured her memory in the South. Her nurses provided what was often the only care available in the field to Confederate wounded. Following the war, she resumed her crusade to improve the care of prisoners, the disabled, and the mentally ill. Her first step was to review the asylums and prisons in the South to evaluate the damage done to their facilities. She died in 1887 at the age of 85.