Smith to Deliver NIH History of Medicine Lecture on ‘Jim Crow in the Asylum’

On Thursday, September 15, Dr. Kylie M. Smith will deliver the National Institutes of Health’s James H. Cassedy Lecture in the History of Medicine. An expert in the history of race in health care and the history of psychiatry, Smith will deliver a presentation titled, “Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South.” Smith is Associate Professor and Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing & the Humanities in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. She is also Associated Faculty in the History Department. Read coverage of the event in The Washington Post, view the talk description below, and tune in to the live video stream feed on Thursday, September 15 at 2pm.

In 1969, after a protracted legal battle, Judge Frank M. Johnson of Alabama ordered that segregation of that state’s psychiatric hospitals was illegal and unconstitutional. In his judgement, Johnson drew on government inspections and grass roots legal activism to critique the terrible conditions that prevailed for Black patients. In this lecture Dr. Smith will give a preview of her forthcoming book Jim Crow in the Asylum in which she will demonstrate that racial segregation in psychiatric hospitals in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi was supported by underlying racist ideologies and has had long term consequences for psychiatric care in the South. This research draws on extensive records from the NLM, national and state archives, and the papers of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and is supported by the G13 Grant from the National Library of Medicine.