Crownsville State Hospital

Crownsville State Hospital is covered in snowfall in this image.

Henrietta Lack’s oldest daughter, Elsie lived most of her live at Crownsville State Hospital. The family knew very little about Crownsville until The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks author, Rebecca Skloot, and Deborah Lacks began to investigate Elsie’s life.

  • Crownsville State Hospital (Forgotten Photography) 2008.
    Constructed in 1910 Crownsville State Hospital, formerly known as the Hospital for the Negro Insane of Maryland, was the third asylum in the US designed to house only African-Americans.  In 1962 Crownsville began to accept all mental patients regardless of their race.  Crownsville Hospital Center closed its doors June 30, 2004.

  • Overcrowded Hospital 'Loses' Curable Patients (Washington Post) November 26, 1958.
    Troubled by "nervousness" and loss of self-confidence, a young Prince George's County lawyer voluntarily entered Crownsville State Hospital twelve years ago. Instead of getting help, he was "buried" behind a stone wall in a gruesome "A" building of Crownsville's "back ward" section.

  • Studying a Relic of a Painful Past (The Washington Post) 2005.
    As sordid as life was at the hospital, particularly for blacks, there is interest in retaining those lonely buildings and preserving the ornate murals, painted by Crownsville patients as art therapy, that still cover many walls and window panes.

  • The Use and Implications of Photographs for Mental Health Care Reform (Maryland State Archives)
    "It is impossible to imagine anything worse than the brutal degradation and cruelty to which the insane are subjected in some of the county almshouses, where they are chained in solitary wretchedness....This condition of affairs calls loudly for reform.  Charity requires, Mercy demands it!" - Dr. C. William Chancellor, Secretary, State Board of Health, 1877