Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Carlina de la Cova


The late 19th and early 20th-centuries in the United States were periods in which white women of middle and low socio-economic status were admitted into insane asylums at a higher rate than men for the first time in recorded history. An existent body of literature helps us to comprehend the social and cultural climate in which the institutionalization of women was both acceptable and commonplace; yet few studies have paired this research with the information that can be revealed on the bones of those institutionalized. A sample of 53 institutionalized women from the Robert J. Terry Anatomical Collection were analyzed for evidence of biological stress to understand how structural violence infringes upon the human body in ways that are embodied in both life and death. Individuals were macroscopically examined for skeletal trauma including cranial, and post-cranial fractures. The presence of pathologies such as porotic hyperostosis, cribra orbitalia, dental caries and abscesses, hyperostosis frontalis interna, and Schmorl’s nodes were also considered. Trauma was found in various manifestations across the sample suggesting that mental institutionalization negatively contributed to the health of the women in this study.

Included in

Anthropology Commons