Dorothea Dix Timeline
Timeline Description: Dorothea Dix (born April 4, 1802) was perhaps the most effective advocate of reform in American mental institutions during the nineteenth century. She played a key role in establishing mental hospitals in various places in America including New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Maryland.

Date Event
April 4, 1802 Birth of Dorothea Dix

Dorothea Dix was born in Hampden, Maine in 1802. Her father was an itinerant Methodist preacher, and her mother was frequently depressed. While her father's behavior was erratic, and Dorothea, the oldest, took on a great deal of responsibility very young, he did teach her to read and write.
1812 Moved to Vermont

In 1812, the family moved to Vermont to avoid British occupation during the War of 1812.
1814 Moved to Boston

At the age of 12, Dorothea moved to Boston to live with her grandmother.
1816 Opened School in Worcester, MA

While still quite young, Dorothea opened her first school. She continued to teach for a number of years, but was very prone to ill health.
1819 Returned to Family Home

After only a few years, she closed her school and returned to her grandmother's home on a full-time basis because of her health.
1822 Taught Classes from Dix Mansion(1822 to 1836)

During the next decade, she occasionally taught classes from her home. She was not consistently able to teach.
1824 Published Conversations on Common Things

Since Dorothea could not teach on a full-time basis, she spent a great deal of time writing. Her first book, Conversations on Common Things, as well as later books sold quite well.
1831 Opened School for Girls

In 1831, Dorothea again opened a school for girls, providing quality education to young women from good families, and offering free lessons to poor girls from the community.
1837 Visited England

In 1837, after ill health again led her to close her school, Dorothea visited England.
1841 Volunteered Cambridge Jail

In 1841, Dorothea began teaching classes at the Cambridge Jail. She was horrified to find that the mentally ill were kept alongside prisoners, with no support or health care.
1841 Began to Campaign for Changes to Care of Mentally Ill(1841 to 1845)

After becoming aware of the state of care of the mentally ill, Dix began to visit prisons, and began to write letters and contact legislators for support for the creation of mental asylums to provide care and services for the mentally ill.
1848 Bill Requesting Land for Mentally Ill

By 1848, the U.S. House and Senate passed a bill providing land for institutions for the mentally ill; however, the bill was vetoed by the President. While this effort was unsuccessful, her attempts were quite successful on a state level in a number of states.
1855 Civil War Nursing Corps

In 1855, Dix volunteered for the Union Nursing Corps, providing care to injured soldiers.
1856 Opening of Institution in Raleigh, NC

As a result of Dix's efforts, a new mental asylum was opened in Raleigh, NC in 1856, following the recommendations and care plans she advocated.
1861 Superintendent of Army Nurses

Dix was made the Superintendent of Union Army Nurses in 1861. She frequently conflicted with her army superiors in this role, and was not well liked by the other nurses. She was removed from the role in 1863.
July 17, 1887 Death of Dorothea Dix

Dix died in New Jersey in 1887, in a hospital that had already been established in honor of the reforming work she had done.