Project Mission

The mission of the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital (1876-2008) Oral History Project is to preserve the memories of individuals connected to the original Greystone Hospital and make them readily accessible to the public.

This project is unique in many ways.  First and foremost, it provides a venue to hear the actual voices of living people within the Greystone community. Interview listeners will gain a personalized knowledge of what Greystone was really like from the perspective of former employees, family members, patients, patient advocates, and people who grew up at Greystone.

Additional interviews will explore Greystone’s unique role in New Jersey and national mental health care and architectural history. Interviewees provide their expertise about such notable historical events and/or individuals as:

  • Dorothea Dix (America’s first mental health care advocate) who lobbied the NJ Legislature to build Greystone
  • WWII Conscientious Objectors whose alternative service at Greystone and other hospitals resulted in a Life Magazine expose of psychiatric hospitals
  • One of the most comprehensive national research projects on the efficacy of lobotomies Columbia University’s renown research on Greystone patients who had received lobotomies.
  • Greystone serving as a training site of the nation’s first Master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing
  • Patients Woody Guthrie (folk singer), Naomi Ginsberg (mother of poet, Allen Ginsberg),   and Enoch Bolles (pin up illustrator) who received treatment at Greystone
  • Doe v. Klein, the class action patient lawsuit, which resulted in a 30 year state monitoring of Greystone.
  • Greystone’s architecture being one of the earliest and largest Kirkbride Plan buildings, the spirited Preserve Greystone advocacy efforts to save it, and the significance of Greystone’s demolition for other closed, historically important institutions.

The project also archives materials that supplement interviews in the website’s “Additional Information” section .  The items include:  vintage and contemporary photographs, videos, a power point presentation, newspaper, magazine and scholarly articles, art work and prose by former patients, and Greystone related applications to governmental agencies.

It is hoped that these oral histories will promote the importance of enhanced mental health services, the safekeeping of priceless historical architecture and the prominent role New Jersey has played in mental health care.

This oral history project is self-funded and operates independently of other organizations.  Written interview transcripts are archived in the North Jersey History and Genealogy Center of the Morristown (NJ) Library.  The views expressed in this project are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect those of the project management