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Historical Archaeology

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 20–38 | Cite as

The Archaeology of Mental Illness from the Afflicted and Caretaker Perspective: A Northern California Family’s Odyssey

  • Sunshine Psota
Article

Abstract

Late-19th- and early-20th-century families afflicted with mental illness either took care of their family members or institutionalized them when they were no longer able to provide for them. The effects of mental illness on individuals and their families are explored from the perspective of the Finger/Sengstacken family of San Jose, California. Archaeological investigations of an associated deposit yielded a plethora of grooming- and health-product containers that provide unique insights regarding how the family coped publicly and privately with the challenges of caring for a loved one. The artifacts illustrate the type of life that Tillie, her mother, and aunt shared, and how their life differed from other households at this time. The material culture is paired with research into the practices at the local state institution where Tillie died a decade later.

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sunshine Psota
    • 1
  1. 1.SebastopolUSA

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