What did you do, Lizette Moritz?

March 24th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Every once in a while in my Blackwell’s Island research I come across intriguing little bits like the ones below. (Actually, I come across trillions of them.) The superintendents and wardens on Blackwell’s Island weren’t allowed to fire and employees, they could only suspend them. The decision to fire came from the commissioners of the Department of Charities and Correction who were surprisingly lenient.

Over and over I’d see an employee that had been suspended at the Lunatic Asylum reinstated. The bar of acceptable care was so low, and in order for a superintendent to bother to suspend you, you had to have been incredibly brutal and cruel.

So I was used to seeing orders like this 1868 one to reinstate Lunatic Asylum attendant Lizette Moritz. What I’ve never seen before is this 1870 followup, where they accept her resignation. What on earth could she have done where she could have been compelled to voluntarily resign? My guess is she killed someone, and they couldn’t prove it, but she didn’t know that. So they gave her the choice to resign or go to court. A brief google search didn’t turn up anything.

Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum

Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum

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Losing Bones Will Break My Heart

March 23rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I always get so insanely attached to the characters on my favorite tv shows. I’ll feel sad for days when a show I love is cancelled, or ends in a more friendly way. But losing the show Bones is going to kill me. I don’t just love a few of the characters, I love all of them, and every squintern who has ever appeared on the show. They’ve always picked the best actors, which is why I get so upset whenever we lose one. I still am sad about Sweets and Vincent Nigel-Murray. And they are not even real!! What am I going to do when I lose freaking ALL OF THEM?? It’s such a dependably sweet, smart, good-hearted show. I’m going be inconsolable.

Why why why why can’t something last forever??

Speaking of which, here is a future heartbreak resting on the radiator.

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Fact Checking Update

March 22nd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

I made something of a discovery researching my Blackwell’s book, so I have to make sure all my facts are absolutely correct. It involves math and my math is not great, and it took me the whole day yesterday to make sure my conclusions are correct, and I’m still not done. I have to request an offsite material from the New York Public Library to be absolutely sure. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it’s interesting if you’re into the subject. It would also be very embarrassing if I was wrong, so I’m check check checking away.

That reminds me, I had to contact an pharmaceutical science historian to check something, more to get an opinion and an explanation for something I’d found and she said she’d never heard of what I’d found and she was very excited, which was fun to hear. She was so nice I have to mention her. Her name is Mimi F. Pezzuto and I found her watching the show Who Do You Think You Are? (Love that show.) She was on the episode with Jennifer Grey, whose grandfather was a pharmacist in Brooklyn. But she gave me a brief and extremely informative and fun lecture about pharmacists in the 19th century, it was GREAT. God I love history. She was just so generous with her time and knowledge, and I of course immediately sent her the source for what I’d found. (It was an interesting thing, if you love history.)

Workers working. I just liked the colors and the light.

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What shall I wear to the ASPCA Kitten Nursery?

March 19th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

I was thinking I’d need clothes for my new job at the ASPCA’s Kitten Nursery. After working from home for years, all I’ve got is jeans and tshirts for the most part. But then I remembered watching a video of the Kitten Lady visiting the Nursery. Everyone wears gowns and caps all the time. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing!

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Mental Illness and Toddlers

March 18th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

While researching lunatic asylums for my book about Blackwell’s Island, I came across a brief reference to what I thought was a very bizarre case. “A little girl, three years and four months old, evincing unequivocal symptoms of mental disorder, was admitted in the early part of the year. The mental disorder was recent. This case, so interesting on account of the age and mental peculiarities, still continues under treatment.” That’s all it says. There are no details or descriptions of the disorder. But it comes from the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital in 1853, from the notes of Dr. John Curwen, Superintendent.

At first I got all judge-y about about diagnosing a toddler, and of course it was a little girl vs a boy. But apparently toddlers aren’t diagnosed enough, under the mistaken belief that children don’t develop disorders that early. According to the article in that link, they can.

Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital

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