Our 2017 Annual Meeting departed from our traditional style of program and featured three speakers discussing the influence of mental health on Norwich’s history.
Faith Trumbull was related to some remarkable historical figures: her father, Jonathan Trumbull, was Connecticut’s Revolutionary War Governor, her husband, Jedediah Huntington, was a prominent General in the Revolutionary War and her brother, John Trumbull, depicted famous scenes from the Revolutionary War in his paintings. Faith was an artist and produced a number of exquisite needlework, yet she experienced severe bouts of depression which sadly caused her to take her own life. Dr. Pamela Hall gave a brief history of Faith’s tragic story while deconstructing the stigma of suicide then and now. Further, Dr. Hall broadly explored how people in the eighteenth century experiencing depression and bipolar disorder managed their symptoms. Dr. Hall is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and has a deep interest in colonial history.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a pronounced feminist, social reformist and author. Her most famous work is her semi-autobiographical short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which she wrote after a severe bout of postpartum psychosis. Madelyn Bell is a Junior at the Norwich Free Academy and she interned at the Norwich Heritage & Regional Visitors’ Center during the summer of 2016. During her internship, Madelyn wrote an article about notable women such as Lydia Huntley Sigourney and Charlotte Perkins Gilman who lived in the Lathrop Manor. Madelyn presented her research on Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
The Norwich State Hospital opened in 1904 and remained in operation until 1996. The Hospital was a mental health facility initially created for the “mentally ill and the criminally insane”, but also housed geriatric and tuberculosis patients. Bob Farwell, the Executive Director of Otis Library, gave a brief history of the Norwich State Hospital and provide dan overview of Connecticut’s involvement in eugenics at the turn of the 20th century.