Ridges Documentary Now Available For Purchase

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The Athens Lunatic Asylum, now known as “The Ridges,” is a place of mystery. The Victorian-style buildings loom large on a ridge overlooking Athens, Ohio, and were home to mental patients in southeast Ohio for more than 100 years. Produced by WOUB Public Media, The 1900: Voices from the Athens Asylum gives a voice to those buried on The Ridges, many buried with only numbers on their tombstones.

No one knows why patients were buried only identified by numbers. Many believe the stigma of mental illness was the cause, others believe they were forgotten people.

To demystify and give recognition and respect to the more than 1,900 people buried there without identities, representatives from several agencies including Ohio University, the Gathering Place, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Association of Mental Illness came together to create the Ridges Cemeteries Committee.

The committee pushed to have the names associated with numbered tombstones released to the public and gave researchers an opportunity to explore the life stories of the people buried there. They began the journey of trying to contact family members and listing names on the tombstones.

The research found the patients came from many walks of life from all parts of the country. Their backgrounds were varied – they were mothers, grandmothers, civil war soldiers and criminals. The stories are told in the patient’s voice and tell about their lives, what brought them to the hospital and the way they died.

DVDs of The 1900 are available to purchase for $28, including taxes and shipping. Contact Ann Kyle at kylea@ohio.edu or 593-4950 to purchase or for additional information.