Thursday, February 11th, 2010
A few days ago, psychiatrist Dr. William J. Resch emailed me about this film featuring Columbus State Hospital. “City of the Sick” is a documentary about CSH (and to some extent all psychiatric hositals) narrated by a fictional hospital attendant. Judging by the film’s look and feel, it was produced some time in the late 1940s or early 1950s. In spite of its quaint mid-20th century style, it’s worth watching for the footage of the Kirkbride building and the insights regarding life inside the hospital. I’m sure the latter were at least a little whitewashed, but I wouldn’t fault the film’s producers for that since part of their purpose was to minimize the stigma attached to mental illness and state hospitals.
Dr. Resch received a copy of the film when he spent part of his Ohio State University residency working at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare in Columbus (CSH’s replacement and sister hospital to the former Twin Valley psychiatric center in Dayton). He just recently put this digitized version online. The second half can be seen here: City of the Sick – Part II.