I’ve finished the first draft about the Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island, and now I’m onto the Workhouse. I was concerned that the Workhouse wasn’t as fascinating as the Asylum, but it turns out I wrong. I don’t want to explain, because I want it to be a surprise! The Workhouse is where New York City sent people who were convicted of minor crimes in the 19th century.

Skaters behind the New York Public Library. Look at that guy smiling at me! Isn’t he adorable?? I’d be very proud if such a nice young man was my son.

Skating, Bryant Park, New York City, 2016

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

7 thoughts on “Workhouse

  1. Have you ever read Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization”? I have only got through the first chapter so far, which is about how France turned the ‘lazar houses’ or leper colonies into insane asylums after leprosy mostly went away. Also about how insanity is really just people on the margins of society who don’t see things like the majority. Workhouses – warehouses for people we don’t want to deal with. People on the margins. It’s fascinating stuff. I haven’t finished reading it however! So much to read!

  2. It sounds like he’s over-stating it re: insanity, but sounds like a must read. My whole book is an argument that all the people sent to Blackwell’s were the people we didn’t want to deal with. Not a new point, but still. I think this is what a lot of people want, and I hope my book will show what society gets when it gets what it thinks it wants.

  3. “People we don’t want to deal with.” That applies to all sorts of people, doesn’t it. I am developing a theory that respect for others (including for diversity) is seen as weakness by those who prize strength as a form of social control. At the same time however, bleeding heart liberals seem to be prejudiced against those in control, or those with privilege, to the extent that they despise them as a group without ever having met them. So, everybody generalizes, just against different groups.

  4. Beautiful young man in your photo! Beautiful Photo! You must read Foucault! When you have a chance…

  5. Yeah, one must be determined to read Foucault (or any philosopher!), though he’s not that hard… I have THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY I,on my night table… Required reading in Grad school. Thought I might read it again.
    His treatments of the Pan-opticon and Power are very accessible… I agree with Julia. Start with “Madness and Civilization.”

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