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Volunteers Uncover Fate of Thousands of Lost Alaskans Sent to Oregon Mental Hospital a Century Ago

1 Apr 2024 3:23 PM | Anonymous

About 5,500 Alaskans between 1904 and the 1960s were committed to a hospital in Portland, Oregon, after being deemed by a jury “really and truly insane,” a criminal offense.

There were no facilities to treat those with mental illness or developmental disabilities in what was then the Alaska territory, so they were sent — often by dog sled, sleigh or stagecoach — to a waiting ship in Valdez. The 2,500-mile (4,000 km) journey ended at Morningside Hospital.

Many never left, and their families never learned their fate.

They are known as the Lost Alaskans.

For more than 15 years, volunteers in Fairbanks and in Portland have been working to identify the people who were committed to the hospital. Many were buried in Portland cemeteries, some in unmarked pauper graves. A few, like McCormick, have been returned to Alaska for proper burials.

You can read more at:

A new database is available : A prior blog: Alaska Natives who died at Morningside: Other patients who died at Morningside:

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

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