Asylum Hill - Grant boosts mission to record descendants’ stories

(February 11, 2019)

Bolstered by a recently-awarded federal grant, the partners of the Asylum Hill Project, led by UMMC, are recovering those patients’ stories – for the sake of history and their descendants, including Whitfill’s grandson. “For a long time, we didn’t know what had happened to our granddad,” said James T. Lee of Owensboro, Ky. “We had tried to find his body; our intention, at first, was to have him moved back to Kentucky, to the grave beside my grandmother.”

As participants in the oral history drive supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Lee and his brother Wayne Lee of Durham, N.C., have agreed to tell what they know about their grandfather. The title of the undertaking, “Finding Community: Documenting Descendants of Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum Patients in History and Cultural Memory,” refers to the original name of the institution which operated from 1855 until 1935 – that is, until about three years after Whitfill’s death.

Northside Sun