Friends Asylum for the Insane near Frankford


This lithograph depicts the first private psychiatric hospital in the United States as it appeared in the early 1830s. Known as the Friends’ Asylum for the Insane, it was founded in 1813 by the Society of Friends (also called the Quakers) and opened to patients in 1817. The institution stood on land that formerly was a 52-acre farm in Oxford Township, near Frankford, six miles (10 kilometers) northeast of the center of Philadelphia. Shown here is an exterior view of the almshouse building as it appeared after two patient wings were added to the original structure in 1827. The illustration is by Thomas Doughty, one of the earliest American artists to make landscape painting a full-time career. It served as the frontispiece of the 15th annual report of the asylum, entitled Annual Report of the State of the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason, published in 1832.

Last updated: April 22, 2013