The California Memorial Project is a collaborative effort between the Peer/Self-Advocacy Unit at Protection & Advocacy, Inc., the California Network of Mental Health Clients, and Capital People First. People with developmental and mental disabilities share a common history at state institutions. The California Memorial Project seeks to reclaim that history.
Since the first institution opened in 1853, Californians were committed to state institutions for reasons that would be unacceptable today. Until the 1950’s approximately 10% of the hospital patients died in the institutions each year. Many of the institutionalized deceased were buried at the hospital grounds in unmarked cemeteries. Over time these cemeteries have fallen into total disrepair, neglected, and have been used for other purposes such as land sold for condominiums, pasture for cattle grazing, and hog farms.
The California Memorial Project seeks to remember and honor these thousands of people by:
- Restoring the cemeteries at the state institutions,
- Recording the stories of people who lived in the state institutions by decade, and
- Documenting the history of the consumer/survivor movement in California.