Full-Length Ridges History Book Offers Look Into Asylum

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The Asylum at the Ridges in Athens now has a full-length comprehensive book dedicated to its history — called Asylum on the Hill.

Athens City Schools counselor Katherine Ziff wrote the book, which was published this month by the Ohio University Press.
This Friday there will be a public reception for Ziff at the Ridges.
She says even old parts of the hospital will be showcased in a tour.
“There will be self-guided tours available, many of the public spaces will be thrown open and an unusual opportunity also to tour the graduate art studios on the 3rd floor of the old original men’s part of the asylum and you can see the old patient rooms,” said Ziff.
The book took 11 years to research and write, and even features private information about the patients at the hospital.
“The major part of the research was having access to the old patient records which are held in Alden Library, given permission by the Ohio Department of Mental Health to read hundreds and hundreds of patient records to understand the role of the asylum and the lives of people in Ohio in the 19th century,” said Ziff. “Also, the superintendents’ files where patients writings even drawings and poetry were filed.”
The reception will take place at the Kennedy Museum of Art Friday starting at 3 p.m.