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Up to 7000 Former Mental Institution Patients are Buried Beneath a Mississippi Medical Center

Mississippi's first insane asylum was established in 1855 in Jackson, thanks to the advocacy of Dorothea Dix. It was a step up from having no services for the mentally ill at all, but it wasn't great. Like many asylums, the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum became a warehouse for people forgotten by their families, sheltered from the outside world, but not offered much in the way of treatment. The asylum got a new location in 1935, and the original location became a part of the University of Mississippi with new buildings erected on the grounds.

In 2013, construction for a road revealed 66 coffins. The following year, while building a parking garage, ground-penetrating radar showed more than 1000 coffins buried beneath the site. According to estimates, up to 7000 bodies may lie beneath the Medical Center’s grounds.

What to do with all these burials? Exhuming and reburying each body would cost an estimated $21 million. There is a plan that combines scientific and historical interest in the case and the dignity of letting the dead rest where they are. Read about that plan at Mental Floss.


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