Research Programs: Public Scholars

Period of Performance

9/1/2019 - 8/31/2020

Funding Totals

$30,000.00 (approved)
$30,000.00 (awarded)

A History of the Massachusetts Almshouse Scandal, 1854-1884

FAIN: FZ-266948-19

Peter Manseau
Unaffiliated independent scholar

Writing leading to the publication of a book about the Tewksbury Massachusetts Almshouse Scandal, 1854-1884.

This book project tells the story of a state-run almshouse in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, which was founded for ostensibly charitable purposes in the middle of the nineteenth century, but soon became a symbol of public corruption, dark ambition, and good intentions gone disastrously awry. In this largely forgotten history, events that first became known as a local scandal of institutional mismanagement unexpectedly took on national significance, with lurid allegations of abuse by almshouse administrators finding their way into the U.S. presidential election of 1884. This book uses a sensational story as a vehicle for a broader examination of the intersecting histories of immigration, politics, and mental health care reform as they influenced American culture during the singularly fraught period of the 1850s to the 1880s.