"Founding Friends is a history of day-to-day life inside the Friends Asylum for the Insane in early nineteenth-century Philadelphia. It uses an extraordinarily rich data source: the daily diaries that the Asylum's lay superintendents kept between 1814 and 1850. In their diaries, these men wrote about their own and their attendant staff's work. They also write about their patients: their conditions, the moral remedies applied, the medical prescriptions ordered by consulting physicians, the reasons for chosen treatments, and the responses of patients and staff to the particular interventions. The Asylum's lay superintendents also wrote with unusual candor and detail about their own and their attendant staff's feelings: about the joys and the frustrations of working daily with insane patients. These diaries offer a new perspective on institutional life. This book shows how intricate negotiations and shifting alliances among families, communities, patients, and staff emerge as the most compelling determinants of an institution's changing form and function."--BOOK JACKET.