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Concealed Objects Found at Women’s Mental Asylum in Tasmania

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Tasmania Newspaper ClippingNEW NORFOLK, TASMANIA—ABC News Australia reports that archaeologist Lauren Bryant of Flinders University is studying a collection of more than 1,000 artifacts discovered under the verandah of the Ladies’ Cottage, a facility for middle-class women on the grounds of the Royal Derwent Hospital, which opened in 1827 for convicts with psychiatric illnesses. The Ladies’ Cottage closed in 2000. “Their families generally would pay for them to be in the facilities and get a slightly better level of care, what was thought appropriate for their social class,” Bryant said. Many of the patients cared for in the Ladies’ Cottage were elderly and had dementia, she added, but Bryant’s review of patient records revealed that the residents suffered from a wide range of symptoms of mental illness. Most of the objects she found under the verandah date to the World War II era and include pieces of embroidery made from an apron or tea towel and newspaper and book clippings. Bryant suggests one woman hid these objects over a long period of time. “Having these secret activities and secret space where she could conceal things allowed this patient to control this part of her life, and be in control in a small way,” she explained. For more on Australian archaeology, go to "Death by Boomerang."

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