Education: Lesson Cluster Overview

"Hearing Voices": The Campaign For Moral Treatment

Cluster Introduction

Dorothea Dix was renowned as a reformer during the two decades before the Civil War. 'Hearing Voices' And The Campaign For Moral Treatment examines what she wanted, what she achieved, and what her achievements meant for the lives of people with mental disabilities. The cluster includes lessons that focus on social history, political history, and cultural history.

"Lunacy Reform in Massachusetts" looks at Dix's first efforts to expose horrendous conditions in local jails and almshouses and to make insane asylums a responsibility of state government. "Dorothea Dix and the Gendered Politics of Advocacy" explores how Dix used her womanhood as a resource for reform in the context of nineteenth-century middle-class notions of gender. "Hearing Voices: Did Benevolence Listen?" raises the troubling issue of voice in the asylum movement. "The Duties of Government: Dix vs. Pierce" examines Dix's ultimate failure to make the federal government responsible for asylums, thwarted by Franklin Pierce's veto based on states" rights.