Dix, Dorothea Lynde, 1802–87, American social reformer, pioneer in the movement for humane treatment of the insane, b. Hampden, Maine. For many years she ran a school in Boston. In 1841 she visited a jail in East Cambridge, Mass., and was shocked at conditions there, especially the indiscriminate mixing of criminals and the insane. After inspecting other Massachusetts institutions, she wrote (1842) a famous memorandum to the state legislature. Her crusade resulted in the founding of state hospitals for the insane in many states, and her influence was felt in Canada and Europe. Dix also did notable work in penology. During the Civil War she was superintendent of women war nurses.
See H. E. Marshall, Dorothea Dix: Forgotten Samaritan (1937, repr. 1967); S. C. Beach, Daughters of the Puritans (1967); F. Tiffany, Life of Dorothea Lynde Dix (repr. 1971); D. C. Wilson, Stranger and Traveler: The Story of Dorothea Dix, American Reformer (1975); D. Gallaher, Voice for the Mad (1995).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.