||Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum
Dr. Leavitt is curator at the Capital Jewish Museum, which will open in 2022. Previously she was an historian with the National Building Museum, where she curated an exhibit on St Elizabeths in 2017, which culminated with the publication of her 2019 book, "St Elizabeths in Washington, D.C.: Architecture of an Asylum."
Note that from 1967 to 1987, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) had administrative control of St. Elizabeths; and from 1989 to 1999, the NIMH Neuroscience Center and the NIMH Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital were located on the grounds of the hospital.
St. Elizabeths, founded in 1855, began as an American model of mental health care. The first patient building, the Center Building, was constructed for white patients in the then-popular Kirkbride style, with wings extending from a central core to prioritize needs for people needing different stages of care. The campus expanded throughout its first century, hitting its peak population in the 1950s. Later construction went in different directions, including the Cottage Style and culminating in institutional, high-rise construction when the population became overwhelming and funding was low. St. Elizabeths, as the nation's first, and for some of its history the only, federal mental health hospital, provides a clear look at the changing nature of the U.S. government's role in providing mental health care for its citizens.
For more information go to https://history.nih.gov