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Chapter Two: The Pennsylvania Hospital, 1835 to 1983

1928 to 1938:  The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital

Returning to 1923, Dr. Copp’s second West Philadelphia proposal to the Board of Managers was that it launch a major fundraising campaign to benefit the Department for Mental and Nervous Diseases.  In December of that year the Board approved a $1 million appeal for the Department, "in addition to the proceeds of the sale of land, when sold, between Forty-sixth and Forty-eighth Streets."160   Dr. Copp and the Board of Managers also looked for income from that portion of the West Philadelphia property east of 46th Street and in July 1926, decided to lease space at the southeast corner of 46th Street and Haverford Avenue161 to what was then known as the Drexel Institute of Technology,162

Drexel Leases Ground

Institute to Have Athletic Field on Hospital Land

The Drexel Institute has leased for a five-year period a large portion of the grounds of the Pennsylvania Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases, for use as an athletic field.  A clubhouse will be erected in the section near 46th st. and Haverford av., and a quarter-mile track, base ball and foot ball fields will be laid out.  There will also be six tennis courts.

With more than $700,000 in hand from the two sales of land and additional income realized from the Drexel lease, the Board of Managers was now prepared to authorize construction of the first buildings in Dr. Copp’s plans.  It is instructive to note that his first priority was the construction of new service buildings at the 49th Street facility of the Department for Men.  These were necessary to clear the way for the proposed psychiatric hospital and rather than wait to do both the service buildings and the hospital in one project, Dr. Copp moved ahead promptly with the money available to him.  In August 1925, the Board authorized $758,000 in contracts for constructing "new East and West Service Buildings" in West Philadelphia.163   The new buildings were constructed on the southwest corner of 48th Street and Haverford Avenue.164

The very next month, September 1925, Dr. Copp returned to the Board with the request to begin the previously authorized public appeal and to raise the funds necessary to build the psychiatric hospital.165   The Board approved and appointed a "Committee on Campaign," chaired by Arthur V. Morton,166 President of the Board, and including, as a regular member, Dr. Copp.  The Committee’s work was slow, but a professional fundraising firm was hired to organize and manage the campaign and finally, in January 1927, the program was launched.  Gifts and pledges came in more slowly than hoped, but gradually they accumulated and in the summer of 1928 the Board of Managers gave Dr. Copp the authority to proceed with the construction of the new psychiatric hospital at 49th Street.  In September 1928 the Board and Dr. Copp conducted a groundbreaking ceremony, which was reported in the Philadelphia newspapers as follows,167

Start On Branch of Penna. Hospital

Ground Broken in $1,500,000 Institute for Nervous Disorders

at 49th and Market

Ground was broken this morning for the new $1,500,000 Institute for Nervous Disorders of the Pennsylvania Hospital for Mental Diseases at 49th and Market streets.  The new building will be modeled after the new Philadelphia General Hospital and will be operated in much the same manner, with an outpatient department and research and clinical laboratories.  The architect is Arthur H. Brockie.

The ground-breaking ceremonies were attended by members of the staff of the Pennsylvania Hospital and the spadeful of earth was turned up by Dr. Arthur V. Morton, president of the Board of Managers, and Dr. Owen Copp, former superintendent of the Pennsylvania Hospital and the man who planned the new institution.168   The new institution will be devoted to the study of the causes and the prevention of nervous diseases.  It will have a resident patient capacity of 120 adults and twenty-five children, with a special department for the diagnosis and treatment of nervous disorders among children.

"It is our plan," said Dr. Copp, "to give at the new institute the same facilities that the physically ill have.  We want to get at the nervous disorders of children and prevent, through early treatment, any more serious mental diseases that might occur."

"We will have an outpatient department to which any one may go for treatment and diagnosis and they will be cared for with home treatment.  There will be no commitment between the patient and the institute, the patient being free to come and go as he pleases."

"It is also planned to make the new institute a teaching center open to medical school students, physicians, nurses, welfare workers and school teachers.  We desire to be of the very greatest usefulness to the community."

"The present mental diseases departments of the Pennsylvania Hospital, now divided between 44th and 49th streets, will be combined at 44th street, leaving the new institute at 49th street a separate unit of the hospital.  The staff will be made up of teachers in medical schools, with Dr. Earl D. Bond as physician in chief."

What the newspapers did not report was that the "Institute for Mental Hygiene" represented an extraordinary partnership between Pennsylvania Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania.  Proposed by Dr. Copp and endorsed by the Hospital’s Board of Managers, the Institute took preliminary form in June 1927, when the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania took the following action,169

Resolved, That the Trustees accept the proposal of the Pennsylvania Hospital, as expressed in a letter of Mr. Arthur V. Morton, President, under date of May 17, 1927, for the establishment of an Institute for Mental and Nervous Diseases, joint direction of research and education in the proposed Institute to be exercised by the University and the Pennsylvania Hospital, and appoint a Committee, consisting of Mr. Madeira, Mr. Frazier, Dr. de Schweinitz, and the Provost, to confer with the Managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital on plans to carry the proposed agreement into effect.

The historical significance of the Institute was perhaps best explained by George W. Corner, in his 1965 volume, Two Centuries of Medicine: A History of the School of Medicine [of the] University of Pennsylvania,170

Until well into the 20th century, psychiatry had to be taught largely by lectures alone, because the general hospitals attended by medical students did not admit psychiatric patients to their wards.  At most, the students were shown patients during brief visits to the nearest asylum.  In this respect the University of Pennsylvania had the advantage of close relations with the Pennsylvania Hospital’s division of mental diseases.  …  However, [until 1930] there was no practical training in psychiatry, and the lectures were limited to 32 hours in the third year.

In 1927 the University trustees and the managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital began to consider a formal alliance of the Hospital’s psychiatric division, now grown into the Mental Hygiene Institute, with the University’s Department of Psychiatry.  This alliance was consummated in 1931 by an agreement under which the University’s professorship of psychiatry and the directorship of the Mental Hygiene Institute would be held by the same person.  This arrangement made it possible to organize a practical course in the fourth year of medical studies, giving the students direct experience in dealing with mental patients.  The Director of the Mental Hygiene Institute up to this time was Earl D. Bond, a Harvard-trained physician of long experience in psychiatry and neuropathology.

Earl Danford Bond (1878-1968) had succeeded Owen Copp as Physician-in-Chief and Administrator of the Department for Mental and Nervous Diseases in October 1922,171 when Dr. Copp assumes his new duties as consultant to the Pennsylvania Hospital.  Dr. Bond was a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, who graduated from Harvard College in 1900 and Harvard Medical School in 1908.  He came to Philadelphia in 1913 in order to join the staff of the Hospital for the Insane.  In 1919 he was named Professor of Psychiatry at the Graduate School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.  In February 1930 he was simultaneously named Professor of Psychiatry in the University’s School of Medicine172 and Medical Director of the Institute for Mental Hygiene at the Pennsylvania Hospital.  The new Institute was dedicated in March 1930 and occupied in September of that year,173

Mental Hygiene Institute Opens

New Pennsylvania Hospital Department Called Unique in Field
of Preventive Science

Will Have Fund Campaign

The Institute for Mental Hygiene of the Pennsylvania Hospital, 49th and Market sts., will be formally opened this afternoon.

Civic and business leaders and men well known in medical circles will be guests of honor at the exercises.  The speakers are Dr. Haven Emerson, professor of public health administration at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York; Dr. Theodore D. Appel, secretary of the Pennsylvania State Board of Health; and Mayor Mackey.  Dr. Emerson was director of the Hospital and Health Survey recently conducted under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce here.

The medical director of the new institution will be Dr. Earl D. Bond.  Dr. Bond states that it is new and unique in the field of preventive science, which will give a tremendous impulse to the study of mental and nervous disorders in this part of the country.

"It is intended to be a place where the things learned in the study of psychiatry can be applied to everyday life," he said.  "It will try to keep its patients at home and at work, and will treat the medical aspects of wrong ideas and attitudes which keep men and women from being efficient."

The structure probably will be ready for occupancy within a few weeks.  Besides its complete equipment as a general hospital, it will have rest and recreation rooms and special equipment for its type of work.  Through an arrangement with the University of Pennsylvania Medical School all the training of students in this particular field of work will be carried on at the new building.

A campaign to raise funds for the new building and for the new Lying-In Hospital at 8th and Spruce sts. will be conducted by the Managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital from March 7 to March 17.

In the summer of 1930, as part of the opening of the new Institute building, the Department moved its long-term male patients from 49th Street to the 44th Street facility.  This consolidated all long-term patients at the original 1841 building and freed the 1859 building for uses related to the Institute.  The West Philadelphia campus was thereby effectively divided between the Department of Mental and Nervous Diseases at 44th Street and the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital at 49th Street.  This division would have significant influence on the Hospital’s future development in West Philadelphia.

It is useful to observe and reflect upon the fact that by 1930 all long-term patients could be housed and treated in one building.  Data from the U.S. decennial censuses of 1910, 1920, and 1930 are useful measures of major changes in the Department’s practice of psychiatry.  As noted above, the size of the resident population on the West Philadelphia campus peaked in or about 1910.  The census takers in that year174 enumerated 192 male patients on 49th Street and 254 female patients at 44th Street, a total of 446 resident patients.  There were 119 resident staff – ranging from physicians to groundskeepers – at the 49th Street facility and 172 resident staff at 44th Street, a total of 291 resident staff.  Ten years later,175 under the administration of Owen Copp, the numbers were 151 male patients and 188 female patients, a total of 339 resident patients.  There were 63 members of the staff at 49th Street and 128 staff at 44th Street, a total of 191 resident staff.  In 1930,176 under the administration of Earl Bond, there were only 87 male patients and only 139 female patients, a total of 226 resident patients.  There were 129 resident staff at 49th Street and exactly 100 resident staff at 44th Street, a total of 229 resident staff.  These statistics suggest that the treatment of mental illness changed significantly in the first quarter of the 20th century.  More and more patients, it seems, were treated on an out-patient basis.  This was certainly true of the philosophy behind the new Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital.  In the words of Dr. Packard,177

The natural out-growth of long thinking by the psychiatrists of the hospital, the Institute in its last stage of development took on a new – and unique – form.  In 1841, in 1885, in 1912 the advantages of treating mild cases of nervous disorder early were emphasized by spokesmen for the mental patients.  In 1929, however, as the construction of the new buildings advanced, there was a new swing over to the side of the normal.  Is not the fundamental need the treatment of those every-day people who want help in their adjustments to their families and their work?

To this new group of patients the Institute was opened in 1930, formally in March, actually in September.  The first floor, opening on 49th Street, was devoted to out-patients and the private patients of the physicians.  The second and third floors were rooms for patients, arranged and managed as club or hotel rooms.  The fourth floor housed occupational therapy and contained two roof gardens.  Physio-therapy occupied the basement.  The older buildings, to which the Institute was attached, were made into laboratories, a nurses’ home, and the Franklin School for young children.

From the first the patients coming to the Institute were above expectations in the normalness of their problems and in abilities.  Some of the commoner problems have been sleeplessness, fatigue, depressions, feelings of inferiority, and difficulties in getting on with other people.  The patients have been decidedly above the average in intelligence and in other gifts.

With the opening of the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Owen Copp achieved the primary goal he had set before the Hospital’s Board of Managers back in 1922.  The record of his several accomplishments was exemplary.  His well-researched planning, long-term fundraising, and close supervision of the construction of new buildings had transformed the Hospital’s West Philadelphia campus.  His initiatives in teaching and research had concluded in an extraordinary collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine.  At his urging, the Trustees and senior academic administrators of the University had established a Department of Psychiatry and effectively placed Dr. Copp’s protégés in charge.  Dr. Earl D. Bond was the pioneer, the first Professor of Psychiatry and the first chair of the new Department of Psychiatry, but within his first year he was joined by the Institute’s Dr. Edward A. Strecker, who was also named Professor of Psychiatry and succeeded Dr. Bond as chair of the Department.  Dr. Strecker, who continued as chair of the Department for twenty-two years, left a remarkable legacy, as described at some length in the 1965 history of the School of Medicine,178

Strecker was a Philadelphian and a graduate of Jefferson Medical College, where, until the University called him, he was professor of nervous and mental diseases.  A man of wide-ranging interests in the social as well as the strictly medical aspects of mental disease, Strecker wrote (with Kenneth E. Appel of his Department) a successful textbook of psychiatry.  He also wrote and spoke extensively, for both professional and lay audiences, on the problems of alcoholism and on military psychiatry and the rehabilitation of the psychiatric patient.

Just before Strecker was appointed to his Pennsylvania chair, Earl Bond, who, apparently, had originally been expected to conduct the teaching of psychiatry in the undergraduate School of Medicine, planned a program of instruction for the second through the fourth years of the medical course, intended to link the study of mental disease with the preclinical sciences and general medicine throughout the course.  It fell to Strecker to carry out and extend this revolutionary program.  With the cooperation of the faculty, and especially of Vice-President Stengel, lectures on psychology and personality problems were given in the first year, lectures on general psychiatry in the second year, clinical demonstrations in the third and ward work with patients in the fourth year.

By the time Dr. Strecker retired in 1953, Penn’s Department of Psychiatry had grown enormous, with more than 100 names of standing faculty, associates, instructors, and fellows in psychiatry listed in that year’s edition of the Bulletin of the School of Medicine.179   All of this originated with Dr. Owen Copp in the 1920s.  Historians of the Pennsylvania Hospital have generally credited Thomas Story Kirkbride with being the most influential and historically significant person in the Hospital’s work in West Philadelphia, but while that may be true of the 19th century, it was Owen Copp who made the great changes of the 20th. 

With its new facilities, University-endorsed physicians, and innovative approaches to patient care, the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital commanded great respect from the very day it opened in September 1930.  The Institute’s Director, Dr. Earl D. Bond, was seen as one of Philadelphia’s leading citizens.  In 1933, less than three years after the opening of the Institute, the Trustees of the Philadelphia Award, the most prestigious honor in the City, selected Dr. Bond as its recipient.  The Philadelphia Award was (and is) conferred upon the person who performs the "highest community service in Philadelphia."  Dr. Bond’s commitment to the work of the Institute was reflected in his use of the $10,000 prize: he turned it over to the Institute to further its research in mental health.180  Dr. Bond continued as Administrator and Physician-in-Chief of the Department of Mental and Nervous Diseases and also as Director of the Institute until October, 1938, when he resigned both positions in order to give his full time to the position of Medical Director of Research.181   His legacy was that of "an active program of probing into the causes of mental illness and integrating the rapidly developing specialty of psychiatry into the life of the community."182

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