Events

Author Event (info)
with Susan Bartlett Foote
Free presentation, Q&A, and book signing
Thursday, September 20 at 7:00pm

The stirring story of the reform movement that laid the groundwork for a modern mental health system in Minnesota

In 1940 Engla Schey, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, took a job as a low-paid attendant at Anoka State Hospital, one of Minnesota’s seven asylums. She would work among people who were locked away under the shameful label “insane,” called inmates—and numbered more than 12,000 throughout the state. She acquired the knowledge and passion that would lead to “The Crusade for Forgotten Souls,” a campaign to reform the deplorable condition of mental institutions in Minnesota. This book chronicles that remarkable undertaking inspired and carried forward by ordinary people under the political leadership of Luther Youngdahl, a Swedish Republican who was the state’s governor from 1946 to 1951.

Susan Bartlett Foote tells the story of those who made the crusade a success: Engla Schey, the catalyst; Reverend Arthur Foote, a modest visionary who guided Unitarians to constructive advocacy; Genevieve Steefel, an inveterate patient activist; and Geri Hoffner, an intrepid reporter whose twelve-part series for theMinneapolis Tribune galvanized the public. These reformers overcame barriers of class, ethnicity, and gender to stand behind the governor, who, at a turbulent moment in Minnesota politics, challenged his own party’s resistance to reform.The Crusade for Forgotten Souls recounts how these efforts broke the stigma of shame and silence surrounding mental illness, publicized the painful truth about the state’s asylums, built support among citizens, and resulted in the first legislative steps toward a modern mental health system that catapulted Minnesota to national leadership and empowered families of the mentally ill and disabled. Though their vision met resistance, the accomplishments of these early advocates for compassionate care of the mentally ill hold many lessons that resonate to this day, as this book makes compellingly clear.

Susan Bartlett Foote is professor emerita in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, where she was head of the Division of Health Policy and Management from 1999 to 2005. She is author of Managing the Medical Arms Race: Innovation and Public Policy in the Medical Device Industry.

Please consider a review or feature of The Crusade for Forgotten Souls or an interview with the author. Please contact Heather Skinner at presspr@umn.eduwith questions or requests.

The Crusade for Forgotten Souls: Reforming Minnesota’s Mental Institutions, 1946-1954

By Susan Bartlett Foote
Available: April 2018, University of Minnesota Press
312 pp., 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, 36 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-5179-0364-0, $22.95 paperback
https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/the-crusade-for-forgotten-souls

For more information, call Jill Wohnoutka at (320) 235-1881 or kandhist@msn.com