Day 3: Drowning in Annual Reports
I found it – A description of the male uniform that I talked about yesterday from Danvers State Hospital! I was expecting a longer search but it just fell into my lap this morning: the 1908 Superintendent’s Annual Report for Danvers includes a section about how “For male attendants on the insane we have no training school and no satisfactory costume…” And then I got confused: I had just read yesterday that they did have a satisfactory costume. The entry went on to clarify that they had once required a uniform for male attendants which was “A silver shield, appropriately marked and numbered consecutively…” but they went missing over the years and were never replaced. Apparently military uniforms and similar items were considered or tried as well but were not thought appropriate for the environment. The Superintendent’s conclusion was that: “There is no dress for men which in its accepted significance and influence compared with women’s nursing costume” (Thirty-first Annual Report of the Trustees of the Danvers Insane Hospital, at Danvers, Mass., for the year ending November 30, 1908). So I guess I wasn’t so far off on assuming they were wearing the standard suit like male attendants elsewhere, eh?
(Image isn’t from Danvers – I found it online but it was a perfect illustration of the male vs female uniforms from asylums and state hospitals of the second half of the nineteenth century)