Anna Marsh

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Anna Hunt Marsh (c. 1770 – 1834) left $10,000 in her will to establish the Vermont Asylum of the Insane in 1834.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Marsh was born in Hinsdale, New Hampshire to Jonathan Hunt. She married Perley Marsh in 1793.[1]

She is responsible for the creation of the Brattleboro Retreat, originally known as the Vermont Asylum for the Insane. She was the first woman credited with starting a hospital for the mentally ill. She was responsible for selecting the trustees before her death. A bad healing experience leading to the death of a member of her family has been suggested as an impetus to her idea of creating a humane care option. Her vision was a facility patterned on a Quaker concept called moral treatment. Marsh did not have much to do with Brattleboro, but her influence was enormous.

Upon her death, her will instructed heirs to build a mental hospital in Brattleboro. This was founded in 1834 with her $10,000 bequest.[1]


The Retreat grew in popularity and had success treating people with a combination of fresh air, exercise, good food, and other treatments for the "insane". Large porches on the buildings allowed patients to sit and read, relax, and recover. As of 2015, the Brattleboro Retreat is still in operation serving a wide variety of mental conditions on a 1000-acre (4 km²) campus.


  1. ^ a b c "Anna Hunt Marsh". Vermont Historical Society. Retrieved 2012-08-26. Anna Hunt Marsh left $10,000 in her will to establish the Vermont Asylum for the Insane, later known as the Brattleboro Retreat or Retreat Healthcare in Brattleboro, Vermont. Anna Hunt’s father, Jonathan, was one of the first settlers in southeastern Vermont and served as Lieutenant Governor of the state. She married Perley Marsh, a physician, in 1793. 

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