Crusade for Forgotten Souls at OTCHS
In 1940 Engla Schey, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, took a job as a low paid attendant at the Anoka State Hospital. She worked among people who were locked away under the label “insane.” During her employment Schey acquired the knowledge and passion that would lead to “The Crusade for Forgotten Souls,” a campaign to reform the deplorable conditions of mental institutions in Minnesota.
Susan Bartlett Foote tells the story of those who made the crusade a success with her recently published book The Crusade for Forgotten Souls. She will give a presentation on her book at the Otter Tail County Historical Society on Thursday, May 17, 7 p.m.
Foote’s book chronicles the efforts of ordinary people to reform Minnesota’s state hospital system under the political leadership of Luther Youngdahl, a Swedish Republican who was the state’s governor from 1946 to 1951. Reformers overcame barriers of class, ethnicity, and gender to stand behind the governor who challenged his own party’s resistance to reform. The Crusade for Forgotten Souls recounts how these efforts broke the stigma of shame and silence surrounding mental illness, publicized the painful truth about the state’s asylums, built support among citizens, and resulted in the first legislative steps toward a modern mental health system that catapulted Minnesota to national leadership and empowered families of the mentally ill and disabled.
Susan Bartlett Foote is professor emerita in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, where she was head of the Division of Health Policy and Management from 1999 to 2005. The Crusade for Forgotten Souls will be available for purchase the evening of the program.
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