“Vanished mental-health archives stymie genealogists”

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This February 15, 2015 article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website talks about the frustration face by many genealogists who try to trace the lives of family members who have been dead for may years, but spent time in a state hospital or other mental health treatment facility.

“Allow memorial plaque for Willard state hospital grave-digger Lawrence Mocha!”

Petition Link

This Petition was started by people who want to see a man who spent a huge portion of his life digging grave for patients who died at Willard State Hospital.  Lawrence Mocha never received pay for any of the graves he dug.  The folks who started the petition want to place a plaque at the Willard State Hospital cemetery to honor the life of Lawrence for his service to the state hospital.  so far , the state of New York has refused to allow this citing “confidentiality” despite the fact that information the people want to include on the plaque came from public sources such as the census and social security records.  The folks have been struggling to get this plaque placed for sometime now and are asking that anyone who supports the idea of not only Lawrence Mocha being offered the dignity of being recognized as having value, but also the recognition of the many many others who are buried in nameless grave in state hospital cemeteries not just at Willard State Hospital but elsewhere as well.

The book titled “The Lives They Left Behind” includes the story about Lawrence Mocha’s work as a grave digger for Willard State Hospital, and also has stories about the lives of other patients who were at Willard State Hospital as well.  Th book is well worth the time it takes to read it, and reads fast.

“As state mental institutions close, the final resting places for many patients are forgotten”

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This July 17, 2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article talks about what is happening to the cemeteries that were once part of now closed state hospitals where the remains of patients who lived and died at the hospital were laid to rest.

The Fairfield State Hospital is a huge place t...

The Fairfield State Hospital is a huge place that was built 1933 to house the insane patients overflowing from two other state hospitals in Connecticut. The place is as big as a Ive League School. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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