DK - by Chaosfish1
Ten Days in a Madhouse: The Woman Who Got Herself Committed
In 1887, intrepid reporter Nellie Bly pretended she was crazy and got herself committed, all to help improve conditions in a New York City mental institution.
“The insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island is a human rat-trap. It is easy to get in, but once there it is impossible to get out.”
Those words, describing New York City’s most notorious mental institution, were written by journalist Nellie Bly in 1887. It was no mere armchair observation, because Bly got herself committed to Blackwell’s and wrote a shocking exposé called Ten Days In A Madhouse. The series of articles became a best-selling book, launching Bly’s career as a world-famous investigative reporter and also helping bring reform to the asylum.
Up until the late 19th century barbers also acted as back-street surgeons. People with little money who were in need of treatment would go to the barber who would perform operations including tooth extraction and amputations. The symbol of the red and white striped pole which marks a barber shop is a reference to this forgotten aspect of their trade - it represents a bone wrapped in blood-soaked bandages.
Born with a beautiful face and giant feet, Fanny Mills came with a dowry of $5000 cash and a “well stocked farm” in Ohio from her desperate father, to any single men willing to take her as bride.