Thomas Story Kirkbride

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Thomas Story Kirkbride
Thomas Story Kirkbride 001.jpg
Kirkbride, c. 1898
Born(1809-07-31)July 31, 1809
DiedDecember 16, 1883(1883-12-16) (aged 74)
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Known for Kirkbride Plan

Thomas Story Kirkbride (July 31, 1809 December 16, 1883) was a physician, advocate for the mentally ill, and founder of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII), a precursor to the American Psychiatric Association. [1] [2] [3]

The Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, also known as The Superintendents' Association, was organized in Philadelphia in October, 1844 at a meeting of 13 superintendents, making it the first professional medical specialty organization in the U.S.

American Psychiatric Association organization

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the main professional organization of psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists in the United States, and the largest psychiatric organization in the world. Its some 37,800 members are mainly American but some are international. The association publishes various journals and pamphlets, as well as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM codifies psychiatric conditions and is used worldwide as a guide for diagnosing disorders.


Early career

Born into a Quaker family in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. [4] He began a study of medicine in 1828 under Dr. Nicholas Belleville, of Trenton, New Jersey when he was eighteen. [5] [6] After receiving a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1832, Kirkbride had his own practice from 1835 to 1840. [5] [6]

Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania Borough in Pennsylvania, United States

Morrisville is a borough in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is located just below the falls of the Delaware River opposite Trenton, New Jersey. The population was 8,728 at the 2010 census.

Trenton, New Jersey Capital of New Jersey

Trenton is the capital city of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County. it briefly served as the capital of the United States in 1784. The city's metropolitan area, consisting of Mercer County, is grouped with the New York Combined Statistical Area by the United States Census Bureau, but it directly borders the Philadelphia metropolitan area and was from 1990 until 2000 part of the Philadelphia Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84,913, making it the state's tenth most populous municipality. The Census Bureau estimated that the city's population was 84,034 in 2014.

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.


In 1840, Kirkbride became superintendent of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane. [1] [5] [6] In 1844, Kirkbride helped to found AMSAII, becoming secretary and treasurer, and subsequently its president from 1862 to 1870. [2] [7] Kirkbride pioneered what would be known as the Kirkbride Plan, to improve medical care for the insane, as a standardization for buildings that housed the patients. [8]

Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital

The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, also known as Kirkbride's Hospital or the Pennsylvania Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases, was a psychiatric hospital located at 48th and Haverford Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. It operated from its founding in 1841 until 1997. The remaining building, now called the Kirkbride Center is now part of the Blackwell Human Services Campus.

Kirkbride Plan hospital

The Kirkbride Plan was a system of mental asylum design advocated by Philadelphia psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride (1809–1883) in the mid-19th century. The asylums built in the Kirkbride design, often referred to as Kirkbride Buildings, were constructed during the mid-to-late-19th century in the United States. The structural features of the hospitals as designated by Dr. Kirkbride were contingent on his theories regarding the healing of the mentally ill, in which environment and exposure to natural light and air circulation were crucial. The hospitals built according to the Kirkbride Plan would adopt various architectural styles, but had in common the "bat wing" style floor plan, housing numerous wings that sprawl outward from the center.

Kirkbride's influential work, On the Construction, Organization, and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane with Some Remarks on Insanity and Its Treatment, [9] was published in 1854, and again in 1880. [5]

Kirkbride's ideas brought about mixed feelings in both patients and peers. [2] [5] Some in the medical community saw his theories and ideas as stubbornly clinging to ideals that hindered medical progress, [2] while others supported his ideas, and saw them change the treatment philosophy for the mentally insane. [8] In his patients, he sometimes inspired fear and anger, even to the point that one attempted to murder him, [2] but he also believed that the mentally ill could be treated, and possibly cured, and in fact Kirkbride, after the death of his first wife, married a former patient. [2] [5]

Kirkbride architecture

Kirkbride was an advocate of building hospitals for the mentally ill in a style which he believed promoted recovery and healing. This style was used on many late 19th century hospitals, including St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. [10] Many of these buildings, designed by leading architects of the time, are in ruins or decay. [11] An estate, now known as "The Village", [12] previously Traverse City State Hospital, was saved from destruction and restored. [10]

St. Elizabeths Hospital former psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C.

St. Elizabeths Hospital opened in 1855 as the first federally operated psychiatric hospital in the United States. Housing over 8,000 patients at its peak in the 1950s, the hospital at one point had a fully functioning medical-surgical unit, a school of nursing, and accredited internships and psychiatric residencies. Its campus was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990.

Traverse City State Hospital

The Traverse City State Hospital of Traverse City, Michigan has been variously known as the Northern Michigan Asylum and the Traverse City Regional Psychiatric Hospital. It is the last Kirkbride Building of Michigan's original four left in the state. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1985.

Personal life

Kirkbride was married to Ann West Jenks in 1839. Together, they had two children - Ann, born in 1840, and Joseph John, born in 1842. [13]


Kirkbride died of pneumonia on December 16, 1883, at his home at the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane. [2]

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  1. 1 2 Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania (2008). "Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride". University of Pennsylvania Health System. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (2008). "Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride". Kirkbride Buildings. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  3. Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania (2008). "The Story of the Magic Lantern". University of Pennsylvania Health System. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  4. The American Journal of Insanity Vol. 55 p. 120 (1898)
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Tomes, Nancy (1994). The Art of Asylum-Keeping: Thomas Story Kirkbride and the origins of American Psychiatry. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 387. ISBN   0-8122-1539-7.
  6. 1 2 3 Richard E. Greenwood (1975). "Kirkbride's Hospital". University City Historical Society. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  7. Wikisource-logo.svg Kelly, Howard A.; Burrage, Walter L., eds. (1920). "Kirkbride, Thomas Story"  . American Medical Biographies  . Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Company.
  8. 1 2 TALA (2008). "Building as Cure". Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Retrieved November 28, 2008.
  9. On the Construction, Organization, and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane with Some Remarks on Insanity and Its Treatment,
  10. 1 2 "The Kirkbride Connection" (Nov-Dec 2007) Old-House Journal p.45
  11. "Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" (Mar 2007) Popular Photography Vol.71, No.3 p.75
  12. The Village, Grand Traverse Commons
  13. Anne West Kirkbride