Volunteers recognize mentally ill buried in unmarked graves

AP News
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Posted: Sep 01, 2015 2:08 AM
Volunteers recognize mentally ill buried in unmarked graves

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — A group of volunteers in Wisconsin is part of a national effort to recognize the tens of thousands of people who were buried in unmarked graves during the 20th century after dying at state- or county-run psychiatric hospitals.

Families then were often too poor for a headstone, couldn't be reached or had forgotten about their relatives at the institutions, called insane asylums or sanitariums.

The work being done in Wisconsin's Outagamie County to recognize the more than 130 former patients buried in a cemetery there has been underway for two years. Volunteers say it's a way to honor their memory and bring attention to mental illness. The site will soon get row markers, a plaque with their names and a memorial bench.

States including Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, New York and Minnesota have seen similar efforts in recent years.