About Project

Main Content

Asylum Hill Research Consortium

Pictured in 2018 (front, from left) are consortium members and collaborators including Eric Hospodor, Dr. Sara Gleason, Dr. Ralph Didlake, Mary Ball Markow, Misti Thornton, Dr. Amy Wiese Forbes, Dr. Caroline Compretta, Dr. Véronique Bélisle; (back) Dr. Thomas Gregory, Dr. Tony Boudreaux, Dr. Patrick Hopkins, Dr. Janice Brockley, Dr. Shamsi Berry and Dr. Molly Zuckerman. 

Dr. Ralph Didlake leads the Asylum Hill Research Consortium, a group of scholars from various disciplines formed to oversee respectful exhumations and memorialize the lives of those buried on the grounds of what is now the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

National Endowment for the Humanities Funding

In 2019, consortium members Dr. Amy Forbes and Dr. Patrick Hopkins were awarded almost $250,000 in NEH funding to support their current project "An Investigation of the Mississippi Lunatic Asylum as History and Memory." The grant funds research by a number of scholars over three years to create an historical monograph, a multi-disciplinary anthology of essays, a website, and a database of asylum-related oral histories and archival materials. 

Our mission

To preserve, rigorously investigate, and promote the public history and scientific value of the Mississippi State Insane Asylum and to honor the experience and legacy of the individuals who were its patients over an important 80-year period in the history of medicine, mental illness, disability, and social institutions in the State of Mississippi.

Our vision

The Asylum Hill Research Consortium is a model program for investigation, civic engagement, and education in the medical humanities and bioarchaeology. Using evidence-based research, and the best practices of archiving, memorialization, scientific method, and social history, the project serves as both a guide and resource for scholars across disciplines and among diverse organizations.

Guiding principles

The guiding principles of the consortium are:

  • Responsible and ethical stewardship of physical, cultural, and scientific value of resources
  • Adherence to prevailing disciplinary standards of practice
  • Research guided by descendant and descendant community input
  • Shared scholarship across disciplines and effective dissemination of data
  • Alignment with UMMC missions: education, healthcare, research.

2024 Consortium Members

University of Mississippi Medical Center

  • Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities
    • Ralph Didlake, MD, Director (retired)
    • Jennifer Mack, PhD
    • Caroline Compretta, PhD
    • Patrick Hopkins, PhD
    • Lida Gibson, MA
  • Office of General Counsel
    • Stephanie Jones, Esq.
    • Susan Shands Jones, Esq. (retired)
  • Rowland Medical Library
    • Elizabeth Hinton, MLIS
    • Misti Thornton, MLIS
  • Department of Psychiatry
    • Sara Gleason, JD, MD

Mississippi State University

  • Cobb Institute of Archaeology
    • Tony Boudreaux, PhD
    • Molly Zuckerman, PhD
    • Anna Osterholtz, PhD
    • Jesse Goliath, PhD
    • Derek Anderson, Lecturer

Millsaps College

  • Department of History
    • Amy Wiese Forbes, PhD
  • Department of Sociology and Anthropology
    • George Bey, III, PhD

Jackson State University

  • Department of History
    • Janice A. Brockley, PhD 

University of Southern Mississippi

  • Department of Anthropology and Sociology
    • Marie Danforth, PhD

Georgia State University

  • College of Arts and Sciences
    • Elizabeth West, PhD

Texas State University

  • Department of Anthropology
    • Nicholas P. Herrmann, PhD

University of Idaho

  • Department of Geography
    • Grant Harley, PhD

University of Western Michigan School of Medicine

  • Health Informatics and Information Management
    • Shamsi Berry, PhD 

Community partners

  • Mississippi Department of Archives and History
  • Mississippi Museum of Art
  • Mississippi State Hospital
  • Mississippi Humanities Council
  • Mississippi Library Commission
  • Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University