by Kirsten Anderberg
This book takes a new historical look at Wilma Wilson’s classic book, “They Call Them Camisoles,” which was published in 1940. Wilma was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital for 4 months for alcoholism in 1939 and wrote a book about her time there. This book includes the entire text and all sketches from the book “They Call Them Camisoles” with a new addition of over 150 photographs of the places Wilma speaks of in the hospital, taken by K.Anderberg. This book also includes references to L.A.Times articles that illustrate what Wilma has written, as well as providing a history of the hospital. “Keeper of the Keys,” a book published in 1976 by a Camarillo nurse, about abuses at the hospital, is also compared and contrasted to Wilma’s words throughout this book. A look into Wilma’s life before going to Camarillo is explored through CA birth and census records, in addition to newspaper reports, and her sensational death is also followed through news reports in the end of this book. This book is of interest to anyone who cares about human rights, patient rights, psychiatric history, CA history, women’s history, institutional history and more. It is a rare window into the inside of mental hospitals, especially Camarillo State Mental Hospital, in CA. This book includes information about the grand jury investigations which ended up indicting doctors and technicians at Camarillo Hospital in 1976, as well.
Author Kirsten Anderberg earned her MA Degree from CA State University at Northridge, with a major in History and Archiving. Her work addressing the history of CA institutions is unprecedented. She wrote and published the first book ever written about the history of MacLaren Hall, a child protection institution in Los Angeles County and her books about Camarillo State Mental Hospital have brought the discussion of these hidden isolating institutions, still in existence today, back into the spotlight.
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