Shawn

11As a native of the Appalachian region, I have grown to love the mountains and discovering some of its long-forgotten history. Growing up in southern Kentucky, I became fascinated by an abandoned hospital as a young child. Some saw it as a nuisance; my imagination, however, would always run wild when I saw it. That hospital was the Corbin Municipal Hospital, later the Southeastern Kentucky Baptist Hospital (now demolished). The fascination with that hospital, along with others, would continue to grow as I became older. I completed my undergraduate degree in forensic psychology (with coursework in U.S. history) and, once I enrolled in graduate school, I began working with the Kentucky History and Genealogy Network (today, a non-profit organization).

I soon discovered the Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky and  its sad, but fascinating, history. Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the Eastern State Hospital Cemetery Preservation Project and founding member Phil Tkacz on social media. I worked closely with Phil to help provide a permanent online home for the project to be utilized as a resource for family members and friends of the deceased patients buried at the hospital.

We realized that the need for this type of comprehensive resource for old Kentucky institutions was almost non-existent. We branched off from the Kentucky History and Genealogy Network and together with Phil, Jay and Robin we formed Kentucky Historic Institutions. I now have a master’s degree and I am incredibly passionate about advocating for the rights of those with mental illness. This group has served as a means to educate the public about the history of these asylums and institutions as well as to advocate for the forgotten patients buried at these places centuries ago. Former Eastern State Hospital nurses Mary Hatton and Majel Moore inspire me to continue helping with the work they started decades ago.