Headstone at Anoka State Hospital cemetery

Headstone at Anoka State Hospital cemetery

A granite headstone at Anoka State Hospital installed by Remembering With Dignity. The old patient-number slab remains above it. Photograph by Sasha D. Warren, 2019. CC BY-NC 4.0.

Headstones at Fergus Falls State Hospital cemetery

Headstones at Fergus Falls State Hospital cemetery

Granite headstones produced by Remembering With Dignity await installation at the Fergus Falls State Hospital Cemetery. Photograph by Sasha D. Warren, 2019. CC BY-NC 4.0.

Gates at Anoka State Hospital cemetery

Gates at Anoka State Hospital cemetery

A gate and walkway installed at Anoka State Hospital cemetery by Remembering With Dignity. Below, with flowers, is a block with the words, “Remembering With Dignity.” Photograph by Sasha D. Warren, 2019. CC BY-NC 4.0.

Rochester State Hospital cemetery plat

Rochester State Hospital cemetery plat

A portion of a map, created in 1885, showing the patient numbers and names of people buried at Rochester State Hospital and their burial locations. From Rochester State Hospital cemetery records, available at the Minnesota Historical Society library as Location F612.O59 R6679 2002.

Death and burial record from Faribault State Hospital

Death and burial record from Faribault State Hospital

Portion of a death and burial record from Faribault State Hospital covering 1881–1883. From a one-volume record of burials at the institution, 1881–1924. In box 109.H.7.1B of Faribault State School and Hospital death and burial records, 1881–1996. State Archives, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

Hastings State Hospital cemetery index

Hastings State Hospital cemetery index

Page from an alphabetical index to burials in Hastings State Hospital cemetery covering 1901–1964. From box 104.E.1.4F of Hastings State Hospital cemetery records, 1953–1999. State Archives, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

Hastings State Hospital cemetery plat

Hastings State Hospital cemetery plat

A 1967 plat map of the Hastings State Hospital's cemetery grounds showing the grave numbers, patient medical file numbers, and the locations of graves. From A3/OV4, drawer 6, of Hastings State Hospital cemetery records, 1953–1999. State Archives, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

Gravestones awaiting installation outside Fergus Falls State Hospital

Gravestones awaiting installation outside Fergus Falls State Hospital

Gravestones awaiting installation outside the grounds of Fergus Falls State Hospital. Photograph by Sasha D. Warren, 2019. CC BY-NC 4.0.

Remembering With Dignity

Over the course of their history, Minnesota’s state hospitals were home to tens of thousands of people with disabilities or diagnoses of psychiatric conditions. Around 13,000 of those who died at these institutions were buried in hospital cemeteries, in graves marked only with numbers. Remembering With Dignity is a group formed from members of Advocating Change Together and other self-advocacy organizations in 1994 with the goal of installing new gravestones in these cemeteries marked with names and dates in order to restore personhood to those denied it in the past.

Inmate Publications at State Institutions

At the end of the nineteenth century, inmates at the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater began publishing a newsletter written and edited by fellow prisoners. For the first time in US history, inmates at a state institution had their own regular publication to discuss news, share literary and artistic works, and organize for institutional change. Their newsletter, the Prison Mirror, served as a model for similar publications produced by inmates at nearly all of Minnesota’s state hospitals, correctional facilities, and state schools.

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