Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Adrienne Petty

Committee Members

Chandos M. Brown

Jaclyn Moloney


A Peculiar Institution: Slavery, Labor Relations, and Treatment at Williamsburg, Virginia's Eastern Lunatic Asylum, 1841-1862, focuses on the life and medical practice of Dr. John Minson Galt II, who served as Eastern Lunatic Asylum's superintendent physician from 1841 until his death in 1862. Galt, although he practiced a brand of socially-reflective psychiatric medicine that was broadly popular in the mid-nineteenth century, often found himself in a position of professional isolation because of the ways in which his pro-slavery ideology mixed with his medical practice. This thesis, using Galt's copious personal and professional documents, analyzes the impacts of Galt's attempts to apply his belief system to asylum medicine through three main categories: the interactions between his treatment philosophies and his ability to bring them into realistic practice, his interactions with his patients as determined by their various social identities, and the relationships between Eastern Lunatic Asylum's various members of staff, which included both paid white managerial staff, and enslaved nurses rented from the broader Williamsburg community.

On-Campus Access Only