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Institution Graves Still Hidden
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 8, 2004

AUGUSTA, MAINE--A group of advocates in Maine are trying to locate 11,000 former residents of what was once known as the Maine Insane Hospital.

After three years of research, they have not found a single one.

The Cemetery Project has unearthed the names of thousands of people who were housed at what is now called the Augusta Mental Health Institute, and died while at the facility during its 163 years of operation.

"One in four of anyone who ever resided at AMHI died at AMHI," said Project Coordinator Laura R. Wilder.

They are presumably buried somewhere on the institution's campus. Unfortunately, project officials have not been able to find a single gravestone or marker.

And current state law keeps the records of those former residents private.

Advocates are pushing for a bill in the Maine Legislature that would open up those records so the graves could be found and a proper memorial could be established.

The Cemetery Project is one of more than a dozen projects across the U.S. intended to locate the graves and honor those who died in state-run institutions, and whose bodies were buried on or near the grounds.

"The power of projects of restoration of state hospital cemeteries is usually a project of justice," said advocate Patricia E. Deegan last Thursday. "This provides an opportunity for diverse groups of people to come together and experience justice."

Related article:
"Advocates seek lost AMHI graves" (MaineToday.com)

http://www.centralmaine.com/news/local/453165.shtml

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