Forgotten Cremains of Oregon's Mentally Ill

Eva York died in a bathtub in 1896 at the Oregon Asylum for the Insane. After an inquest, which absolved the hospital staff of any blame, no one claimed her corpse, so she was buried in the asylum cemetery and forgotten.Eighteen years later Eva’s remains were exhumed, cremated, placed in a copper urn and forgotten all over again. Today the corroding canister containing her ashes sits on a plain pine shelf in what’s called the “Cremains Room” at the 122-year-old Salem institution, now known as the Oregon State Hospital.

In 1913 -1914 the state of Oregon decided that dead inmates were taking up too much real estate and their bodies were exhumed, cremated and put into these copper canisters. The containers were labeled but the paper labels degraded over the years and the identities of most of those cremated remains are forgotten. David Maisel took a series of photographs of the urns, now made into a book.


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I do feel the photographer felt deeply and the same as "dooflotchie" and Id love to see the State give permission to create a memorial for those lost souls. Being a care provider myself and someone who has known workers from Or.State Hospital, I know they'd feel the same. As much as I feel the cans, individually, are beautiful a memorial would be a reminder for all.
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Doing nothing sounds like a good idea.
Actually, why not just get a can opener and rebury them somewhere in a mass grave? Make a little garden above, and have a memorial space. No need for faceless statues, just a plaque. Simple, refined.
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So you don't think it's possible the photographer felt the same way you and I do about this? There's no chance he could have found a creative way to make people see how the state brought about such a tragic mess with poor planning and carelessness? :-/
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