Women and Lunacy @ Golden History Museum
Apr 16 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

A curious beginning

What started as a small curiosity turned into a big question: did the Colorado criminal justice system pathologize women in the early twentieth century? The Golden History Museum collection includes a jailhouse register from Jefferson County covering 1878 to 1929. While researching a famous lynching case in Golden, Colorado, involving two men, we noticed that most of the charges for women were for “insanity.” The project bloomed into a multi-institutional search for the women recorded in the register.

This talk is focused on methods of record retrieval alongside institutional barriers. The archivist at the Colorado State Hospital Museum in Pueblo welcomed us to research the asylum’s archived medical records and documents. On the other hand, Jefferson County’s archivist informed us that valuable Lunacy Commission records are still sealed to date, obscuring some of the instances of women who were institutionalized against their will repeatedly. This presentation will offer biographies of the women and will explain the obstacles and benefits of working across multiple institutions in Colorado for historical research.   

This program will be presented by GHM&P staff member Bianca Barriskill


GHM&P is transitioning to a new ticketing program. In the meantime, please contact us directly to register.