On Monday, Oregon will dedicate a memorial to the thousands of people cremated at its state mental hospital. Known as the "forgotten souls," their remains were found almost 10 years ago during a tour of the Oregon State Hospital.
"No one wants to be laid to rest without some kind of acknowledgment that they were here, that they contributed, that they lived," state Senate President Peter Courtney told The Associated Press.
Since the 3,500 copper urns were discovered, a massive effort has been underway to place the remains with relatives. Since 2005, 183 have been claimed, and 3,409 others that have been identified are online in a searchable database. The population of the hospital was diverse, with patients born in all states except Alaska and Hawaii and in 44 countries. They were in for depression, bipolar disorder, and physical deformities, with some living in the hospital for decades.
One patient was admitted in 1890 at the age of 33, "struggling with delusions," and lived there for 40 years. Another was a widow sent to the hospital in 1962 at 82 years old, having been kicked out of a nursing home for going through people's things. The remains of those patients and the others have been transferred to ceramic urns for protection, with the copper urns going on display at the memorial. "I think it will be very difficult to forget them now," says Jodie Jones, a state administrator.