Friends' Asylum for the Insane near Frankford


This circa 1836 lithograph depicts the first private psychiatric hospital in the United States. 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, ten kilometers northeast of the center of Philadelphia. The view here, a pastoral scene with men standing in the foreground and animals grazing, is of the almshouse building as it appeared after two patient wings were added to the original structure in 1827. The print is by George Lehman, (circa 1800–70), a Swiss-born landscape artist, engraver, and lithographer, who in 1824 immigrated to the United States with his family, several of whom were also engravers. It was produced by the partnership of Lehman & Duval, which Lehman formed with Peter S. Duval (1804 or 1805–1886), one of the foremost lithographers of his time. The work appeared as the frontispiece of the 1836–40 annual reports of the asylum, which were entitled Annual Report of the State of the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason.

Last updated: January 8, 2018