Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York

Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad & Criminal in 19th-Century New York
Buy Damnation Island from your favorite bookseller or from: Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Kobo, or Amazon.

“Horn creates a vivid and at times horrifying portrait of Blackwell’s Island (today’s Roosevelt Island) in New York City’s East River during the late 19th century . . . Horn has created a bleak but worthwhile depiction of institutional failure, with relevance for persistent debates over the treatment of the mentally ill and incarcerated.” —Publishers Weekly.

“Stacy Horn’s history of Blackwell’s Island is a shocking tale, and an invaluable account that will reward anyone with an interest in the history of New York.” —Simon Baatz, New York Times bestselling author of For the Thrill of It and The Girl on the Velvet Swing.

“Blackwell’s Island’s descent into darkness is chronicled with clarity and conscience by master-story-teller Stacy Horn. No one who has taken that journey with her will return the same.” —Teresa Carpenter, Pulitzer Prize-winner and editor of New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009.

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 →

6 thoughts on “Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York

  1. Preordered my Kindle copy. Always happy to see a new book from you. Sorry you’re not coming to NC on a book tour but I’m sure that Algonquin has interesting things planned for the book.

  2. I work at the library and today while there I was looking at the May BookPage and there was you and your new book! I’m assuming you’re aware of that?! If not I’ll take a picture to send to you. I imagine lots of libraries get BookPage. Karen Baierl

  3. Karen, I did know, but thank you for the heads up. Also, I really wasn’t aware that lots of libraries get BookPage, that’s great to know!

    Vivian, thank you SO MUCH for buying my book!!! What are you working on now?

  4. Hi Stacy,

    I was wondering if you cover Charity Hospital in your book. An ancestor of mine who lost an arm in the civil war was there to treat an infection in the wound of the amputated arm and died there in 1867. I would be interested in knowing more about this hospital and where they buried Civil War veterans before the government paid for burials.



  5. Hi Laura, yes, there is a section about Charity Hospital. About your ancestor, if he didn’t have any family in the area to pay for a private burial there are two places he may have ended up: the city’s Potter’s Field, which was on Ward’s Island in 1867, or St. Michael’s Cemetery in Astoria, which had an area for the poor. If he was buried in Potter’s Field, it is my opinion that this was not as sad as it might sound. The cemetery was maintained by a man named Lawrence Dunphy who was very respectful of soldiers. When the cemetery was moved to Hart Island a couple of years later he arranged for a special section for the Civil War dead.

    If he was buried on Ward’s Island, I don’t know if any records still exist, I’ve never looked for them. You can contact St. Michael’s to see if they have records for 1867, http://stmichaelscemetery.com/.

    But I also know that the Episcopal Diocese of New York has records of deaths on Blackwell’s Island, which list where they were buried, you might check there. It’s not limited to members of the Episcopal faith only, but it might mostly Episcopalians. The Catholics might have similar records, but I didn’t research that. http://archnyarchives.org/collections/list-of-collections/

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