Psychiatric Jim Crow: Desegregation at the Crownsville State Hospital, 1948–1970

Psychiatric Jim Crow: Desegregation at the Crownsville State Hospital, 1948–1970,” by Ayah Nuriddin. Abstract:

The Crownsville State Hospital, located in Maryland just outside of Annapolis, provides a thought-provoking example of the impact of desegregation in the space of the mental hospital. Using institutional reports, patient records, and oral histories, this article reconstructs the three phases of desegregation at Crownsville. First, as a result of its poor conditions, lack of qualified staff, and its egregious mistreatment of patients, African American community leaders and organizations such as the NAACP called for the desegregation of the care staff of Crownsville in the late 1940s. Second, the introduction of a skilled African American staff created unprecedented and morally complex issues about access to psychiatric therapeutics. Last, in 1963, Health Commissioner Dr. Isadore Tuerk officially desegregated patients in all Maryland state hospitals. Though desegregation brought much needed improvements to Crownsville, these gains were ultimately swamped by deinstitutionalization and the shift towards outpatient psychiatric care. By the 1970s, Crownsville had returned to the poor conditions that existed during segregation.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.