I think you'll find this month's two history items particularly memorable. The first one revealed itself at the Scranton public library as I was reeling through microfilm of 19th century newspapers. I was looking for period information about the village of Waverly and its settlement of fugitive slaves for use in my forthcoming book--but you never know what other curiosities might pop up along the way. Consider the following from The Scranton Republican of Nov. 1, 1870.
"Causes of Insanity Given." It seems Pennsylvania was building a new mental hospital at Danville to take overflow from the crowded state asylum in Harrisburg. Some of the patients may have been traumatized war veterans, but the listings only indicated categories like "farmers 520, laborers 469, blacksmiths 26, houswives 618, daughters of farmers 121." What I especially wanted to share was the official rundown of the patients' problems. Here it is, verbatim: "ill health, 339; domestic trouble, 251; epilepsy, 118; trouble, 330; grief, 8; millerism, 4; spiritualism, 2; excessive study, 3; disappointment, 11; overexertion, 89; fright, 23; intemperance, 84; religious excitement, 8; opium eating, 10; loss of sleep, 6; failure in business, 2; loss of money, 4; ill treatment, 2; excesses, 25; novel reading, 2; sunstroke, 10; want of occupation, 1; mortified pride, 1; public excitement, 88; pecuniary trouble, 5; jealousy, 1; causes not assigned, 1,358"I can imagine what some of the terms meant and how we might classify them today, but novel reading? Mortified pride? If you're a historian or have expert insight, please pass it on and I'll relay your observations to the group.