In December 1842, the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum opened its doors, becoming the State of Georgia's first psychiatric hospital. Over its 178-year history, the institution has changed names numerous times, also operating as the Georgia State Sanitarium, Milledgeville State Hospital, and Central State Hospital. By the 1960s, the hospital had grown to include 200 buildings encompassed on a 1750-acre campus, serving 12,000 patients, making the institution the largest mental hospital in the world. This impressive designation took place in a small rural town in Middle Georgia, which only had a population of 11,117 in 1960. Regardless of the lens used to view the history of mental health treatment in the United States, the institution located in Milledgeville, Georgia serves as a paradigm of the country’s checkered past in the treatment of people living with mental illness.
The Twin Lakes Library, part of the Middle Georgia Regional Library System (TLL), is partnering with Georgia College & State University (GC) on the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) Digital Exhibits Pilot Program. The objective of the program is to empower libraries to use their unique digitized materials to tell the stories of their libraries and communities. Using the Omeka S platform, TTL and GC have curated an online local exhibit using content already available in the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG).
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Statement on Language Used
We aim to portray this exhibit material in a manner that is respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in its presentation. However, for a variety of reasons, users may encounter offensive or harmful language, for example, language that is racist or insensitive. While some descriptions in our exhibit are written by staff, others reflect language that was used by the people and organizations that created the material (direct quotes are a common example; it is standard practice not to change them when present). Language that comes from the original archival material can provide information about the people who created it. In such cases, the work of the exhibit curator is to provide additional context.
We encourage users to provide feedback to help us tackle this issue. We recognize that terminology evolves over time and that efforts to create respectful and inclusive description must be ongoing. Please contact us if you encounter problematic description by notifying us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The description will be reviewed and updated in a way that balances the preservation of original context with an awareness of the effect of language on our users. Revisions may include providing additional context and/or replacing problematic terminology. We welcome your feedback.