Kirkbride Buildings Blog

May 1st, 2009

Behind the Walls – Shadows of New England’s Asylums

Behind the Walls - Shadows of New England's Asylums book cover
There’s a new book out by photographer Katherine Anderson featuring photographs of several former New England asylums, including the Kirkbide buildings in Danvers, Worcester, and Northampton, Massachusetts. In addition to the pictures, the book also contains an extensive history of mental illness and asylums as well as “feeble-mindedness” and the state school system. The book is called Behind the Walls – Shadows of New England’s Asylums and you can preview (and purchase) it here: Behind the Walls.

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  1. WSH May 1, 2009, 2:29 pm

    Seems a little pricey for the hardcover. I think I’ll get it though as it looks very good. Has anyone seen it firsthand themselves?

  2. Kate May 1, 2009, 7:59 pm

    WSH- It is pricey. I’m not thrilled with the pricing but if you order it off of my website ( instead of from Blurb, you’ll get a signed copy if that’s any consolation. Those who have bought it so far are happy with the quality. The only thing I can say is the spine text got cut off by the image on the cover. Honestly, get the softcover. It’s just as nice and a little cheaper.

  3. WSH May 4, 2009, 9:29 am

    Thanks Kate, I expect I’ll be ordering one very soon.

  4. Kate May 5, 2009, 11:23 am

    Great! I hope you enjoy it!

  5. JOHN May 28, 2009, 5:05 pm

    Are there any asylums/ hospitals that aren’t demolished?? i would love to visit one if there was no security? know of any in new england?



  6. Valerie June 5, 2009, 4:15 pm

    Do you have any pictures etc. on Fernald State School?


  7. Kate July 15, 2009, 9:24 pm

    I do have an extensive Fernald section. And John, I’ll be in touch!

  8. Carol Lincoln September 28, 2009, 9:33 am

    I just learned about your book from the information sent to me by the Elms for Homecoming weekend. I am very interested in reading this book. After graduating from the Elms I worked first as a Social Work consultant in the Medical Unit at Belchertown State School, and then as a Senior Social Worker at Monson Developmental Center in Hodskins, which was the children’s unit. Do you dicuss either of these institutions in your book?
    Carol Lincoln, Elms 76′

  9. Ronnie November 12, 2012, 9:49 pm

    I was wondering the same thing as John. I was wondering if there were any institutes I could actually go in and photograph ? I am fascinated by this stuff and was heartbroken to learn that Danvers State was demolished. I live pretty close to there. What I would really love to stumble upon is some old medical records, I think that would be so interesting to read through.

  10. Ray February 24, 2013, 10:52 am

    Hello – I write professionally and I have been deeply touched by Katherine Anderson’s work. RIght now I am working on researching the history of mental illness and its treatment within the state of Arkansas. Is there a way to contact Ms. Anderson? If so, I would greatly appreciate receiving it if it is something that you can share. Thank you very much and have a real good day over there.

  11. Kate February 24, 2013, 12:23 pm

    Carol- So sorry I didn’t see your comment until now. I’ll try to get in touch with you through the alum network!

    Ronnie- Shoot me an email and we’ll talk about some of the buildings that allow tours and shoots with permission.

    Ray- Just sent you an email! Looking forward to hearing from you!

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