A Guide to the Joseph S. DeJarnette Papers, 1889-1914, 1939-1953 DeJarnette, Joseph S. Papers 2011.004

A Guide to the Joseph S. DeJarnette Papers, 1889-1914, 1939-1953

A Collection in
Augusta County Historical Society
Collection Number 2011.004


Augusta County Historical Society

Augusta County Historical Society
20 S. New Street
Staunton, VA 24401
Phone: (540) 248-4151
URL: http://augustacountyhs.org
Email: historian@augustacountyhs.org

2021 ( CC0 1.0 )

Processed by: Augusta County Historical Society

Augusta County Historical Society
Collection Number
Joseph S. DeJarnette Papers, 1889-1914, 1939-1953
Physical Characteristics
10 linear ft. and trunk 30" wide X 17.5" high X 17.5" deep
Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette
Language of Materials

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

A trunk containing papers and documents was donated to the Augusta County Historical Society in 2011. The trunk was donated by a homeowner who found it in the attic of a residence on Sherwood Street in Staunton, Virginia, where DeJarnette lived after he retired.

Biographical/Historical Note

Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette was hired by Western State as a physician in 1889. His letterhead stationery shows his title was Assistant Physician. He was appointed superintendent of Western State Hospital in 1905 and was the longest serving superintendent of that institution, retiring in 1943. He was involved in the establishment of the Virginia State Epileptic Colony at Lynchburg, Virginia. He was also responsible for founding the DeJarnette State Sanatorium in Staunton and was superintendent there from its formation in 1932 until 1947. His legacy has been tarnished by his involvement in the eugenics movement and his advocacy of the involuntary sterilization of mental patients and epileptics.

Scope and Content

The bulk of the material in the collection ranges in date from 1889 to approximately 1914. Much of it is undated. The Hopkins estate papers represent a separate group of documents dated from 1939 to 1953.

The collection consists of personal, professional, and hospital-related papers, photographs, and notebooks. With the exception of the Hopkins estate records, there was no apparent organization to the documents. Many were folded or rolled together and had to be unfolded and flattened.

The collection contains correspondence, notebooks, poems, receipts and invoices, check registers and stubs, articles, including one on the history of Western State Hospital, copies of wills, ephemera such as birthday cards and invitations to weddings and commencements, newspaper clippings and issues of periodicals and newspapers.

The correspondence consists almost entirely of letters to Dr. DeJarnette. Some of the correspondence is personal and some work-related. Of interest are copies of letters from two of DeJarnette's medical colleagues addressed to Eastern State Hospital recommending DeJarnette be hired as superintendent. One personal letter of interest is signed A.G. McDonald, who addresses DeJarnette as "Dear Friend and Benefactor" and goes on to write about his travels after he left the asylum and returned home to Glasgow. The letter, dated April 3, 1896, was sent from Cuba. McDonald recounts how he accepted a trip with a ship's captain transporting men to Cuba to join the revolution, He writes about his exploits and laments that he's tried to get off the island but "the coast is guarded so close and yellow fever has just set in" and doubts he will be able to escape. There are several letters from patients, some addressed to Dr. DeJarnette and others to patients' family members. There is one folder of letters to Chertsey Hopkins DeJarnette.

A number of documents relate to the establishment of an epileptic colony in Lynchburg. These include letters by landowners offering land for sale. There is a copy of the "First Report of the Virginia State Epileptic Colony at Lynchburg, from February 20th, 1906 to September 30th, 1909." which is bound with the "Eighty-Second Annual Report of the Board of Directors and of the Superintendent of the Western State Hospital of Virginia" for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1909.

The collection contains DeJarnette's handwritten notes on various subjects, including recommendations for the hiring of superintendents of mental hospitals, recommendations for changes in the lunacy laws and suggestions for legislation to regulate the dispensing of opiates by pharmacies.

There are handwritten papers and copies of documents proposing the establishment of a colony for the treatment of "inebriates" meaning those who drink alcohol in excess or who are addicted to drugs.

Folders labeled "legal cases" contain material pertaining to criminal cases in which DeJarnette examined individuals to determine their mental state.

Several publications in the collection contain articles and transcripts of speeches by Dr. DeJarnette, including a talk on "Colonization of Inebriates" delivered on December 9, 1913 and published in the "Proceedings of the Virginia Conference of Charities and Correction" (Newport News, Virginia, December 7th and 9th, 1913).

Newspaper articles include several letters to the editor written by Dr. DeJarnette. In addition to newspaper clippings, the collection includes entire issues of the "Staunton Daily Ledger," "Richmond Times Dispatch," and others.

Of major concern to DeJarnette was the uncontrolled distribution of opiates by pharmacies. The folder "opiates" (box 5 folder 89) contains handwritten notes and a typewritten document on the subject.

Another topic he read and wrote about was pellagra, a disease caused by a vitamin deficiency.

Material in box 6 relating to Western State Hospital includes a history of the institution, two annual reports, and lists of hospital needs. One item of interest is a small notebook kept by a hospital attendant on the activities of F.G. Rust, a patient furloughed on April 18, 1898, who boards at a house in Staunton. The attendant makes daily entries on Mr. Rust's activities. Mr. Rust visits Western State and on one occasion brings a squirrel from the hospital he keeps in a cage. He visits stores, goes fishing, goes walking, and plays cards in town.

There are several copies of the will of Sidney R. Murkland. Murkland left property in trust to Western State Hospital and stipulated that income from the property be used to purchase "extra comforts for patients in said hospital for all time to come." The Virginia legislature viewed the Murkland trust as a gift to the state and wanted to use proceeds from the sale of the property to purchase land for an epileptic hospital. The Board of Western State brought a lawsuit against the General State Hospital Board protesting the diversion of the Murkland property from the purpose stated in the will. A number of folders contain documents and letters related to the estate of Nanette Hopkins, DeJarnette's sister-in-law, who died in 1938. Dr. DeJarnette was one of three executors of her estate. The documents were arranged in chronological order in manila folders, and the folders were labeled. The order and labels of the original folders were maintained when the papers were removed and placed in archival folders. Folders labeled "Francis D. Calley, Executor" contain primarily business correspondence between Orra Hopkins and her nephew Francis Calley during the period 1938-1945 and contain personal notes referring to "Uncle Joe" and his activities as well as notes about the estate business.

Box 7 contains legal pads with Dr. DeJarnette's handwritten notes. These appear to be drafts of hospital reports and notes from examinations of individuals involved in criminal cases.

Box 8 contains issues of the Virginia Medical Semi-Monthly, published in Richmond, Virginia with articles by Dr. DeJarnette, issues of literary magazines with articles by Eva M. DeJarnette, and miscellaneous pamphlets and periodical issues.

Box No. 9 holds photographs, most of them unidentified.

In box No. 10 are small memo books in which DeJarnette listed daily personal expenses. Inserted in one of the books are handwritten contracts by individuals promising to provide room and board for furloughed patients, and to pay Dr. J.S. DeJarnette a monthly amount, as well as a sketch of a design for a tombstone for Eva Magruder DeJarnette, "our mother." The box also contains checkbooks and check stubs. This material is dated from 1889 to 1914.

Boxes 11 and 12 hold newspaper issues.

Index Terms


  • DeJarnette, Joseph S.

Contents List

Box-folder 1-1
Advertisements and brochures
Box-folder 1-2
Article: "Can You Afford It"
Box-folder 1-3
Article: "Chronic Myositis Rheumatica and its Treatment by Massage"
Box-folder 1-4
Article: "History of Institutional Care of the Insane in the United State and Canada" by Henry M. Hurd
Box-folder 1-5
Bank records
Box-folder 1-6
Bills (legislative)
Box-folder 1-7
Business cards
Box-folder 1-8
"Blood" by Joseph S. DeJarnette, (undated)
Box-folder 1-9
Chicago Medical Society meeting, (1914)
Box-folder 1-10
Colonization of Inebriates
Box-folder 1-11
Contract (rental)
Box-folder 1-12
Correspondence: Mrs. Chertsey H. DeJarnette
Box-folder 1-13
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, undated
Box-folder 1-14
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1889
Box-folder 1-15
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1894
Box-folder 1-16
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1895
Box-folder 1-17
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1896
Box-folder 1-18
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1897
Box-folder 1-19
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1898
Box-folder 1-20
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1899
Box-folder 1-21
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1900
Box-folder 1-22
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1901
Box-folder 1-23
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1902
Box-folder 1-24
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1903
Box-folder 1-25
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1904-1905
Box-folder 2-26
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1906
Box-folder 2-27
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1907
Box-folder 2-28
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1908-09
Box-folder 2-29
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1910
Box-folder 2-30
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1911
Box-folder 2-31
Correspondence: Dr. Joseph S. DeJarnette, 1912-13
Box-folder 2-32
Correspondence: Miscellaneous
Box-folder 2-33
Correspondence: Patients
Box-folder 2-34
Drug and Liquor Curse
Box-folder 2-35
Drug samples
Box-folder 2-36
Box-folder 2-37
Box-folder 2-38
Box-folder 2-39
History of the Life of H.E. Reynolds
Box-folder 2-40
Hopkins Estate, Abbott, Proctor & Paine
Box-folder 2-41
Hopkins Estate, Augusta National Bank
Box-folder 2-42
Hopkins Estate, blank forms
Box-folder 2-43
Hopkins Estate, bonds
Box-folder 3-44
Hopkins Estate, bonds (unfiled)
Box-folder 3-45
Hopkins Estate, cash account
Box-folder 3-46
Hopkins Estate, cash account
Box-folder 3-47
Hopkins Estate, cash account
Box-folder 3-48
Hopkins Estate, F.D. Calley, executor
Box-folder 3-49
Hopkins Estate, F.D. Calley, executor
Box-folder 3-50
Hopkins Estate, F.D. Calley, executor
Box-folder 3-51
Hopkins Estate, F.D. Calley, executor
Box-folder 3-52
Hopkins Estate, F.D. Calley, executor
Box-folder 3-53
Hopkins Estate, F.D. Calley, executor
Box-folder 3-54
Hopkins Estate, F.D. Calley, executor
Box-folder 3-55
Hopkins Estate, Financial World
Box-folder 3-56
Hopkins Estate, investments
Box-folder 3-57
Hopkins Estate, investments (unfiled)
Box-folder 3-58
Hopkins Estate, Milhouse, Martin & McKnight
Box-folder 3-59
Hopkins Estate, stocks
Box-folder 3-60
Hopkins Estate, stocks
Box-folder 4-61
Hopkins Estate, stocks
Box-folder 4-62
Hopkins Estate, stocks (unfiled)
Box-folder 4-63
Hopkins Estate, trial balance
Box-folder 4-64
Hopkins Estate, trial balance
Box-folder 4-65
Hopkins Estate, trial balance
Box-folder 4-66
Hospitals, photos and diagrams
Box-folder 4-67
"How She Saved the General" by Evelyn Magruder DeJarnette
Box-folder 4-68
Invoices & receipts
Box-folder 4-69
Invoices & receipts
Box-folder 4-70
Legal cases
Box-folder 4-71
Legal cases (Nelson V. Carter)
Box-folder 4-72
Legal cases (Clay Drewry)
Box-folder 4-73
Legal cases (Benjamin Hubard)
Box-folder 4-74
Legal cases (Joseph Kendrick)
Box-folder 5-75
Legal cases (Harvey D. Looney)
Box-folder 5-76
Legal cases (Strother)
Box-folder 5-77
Legal cases (R.M. Turner)
Box-folder 5-78
Lunacy laws
Box-folder 5-79
Medical College of Virginia
Box-folder 5-80
New York, NY
Box-folder 5-81
Newspaper articles
Box-folder 5-82
Newspaper articles
Box-folder 5-83
Newspaper articles
Box-folder 5-84
Newspaper articles
Box-folder 5-85
Box-folder 5-86
Box-folder 5-87
Box-folder 5-88
Obituary, Dr. Joseph Spencer DeJarnette
Box-folder 5-89
Box-folder 5-90
Box-folder 5-91
Pellagra (reports)
Box-folder 5-92
Pharmacy laws and regulations
Box-folder 6-93
Box-folder 6-94
Box-folder 6-95
Box-folder 6-96
Box-folder 6-97
Box-folder 6-98
Poetry & narratives (J.S.Dejarnette)
Box-folder 6-99
Report of committee on training school for nurses
Box-folder 6-100
Special rules for wards
Box-folder 6-101
Speech, Augusta County Medical Society
Box-folder 6-102
Speech, Virginia Conference of Charities & Correction
Box-folder 6-103
State Personal Property Interrogatories
Box-folder 6-104
Staunton Democratic Club membership certificate
Box-folder 6-105
Value of my worldly goods, 1903 & 1905
Box-folder 6-106
Virginia Conference of Charities & Correction, Proceedings, 1914
Box-folder 6-107
Virginia State Epileptic Colony
Box-folder 6-108
Western State Hospital Annual Report, 1907-1908
Box-folder 6-109
Western State Hospital Annual Report, 1908-1909
Box-folder 6-110
Western State Hospital, attendant's notes
Box-folder 6-111
Western State Hospital, financial needs, 1908 & 1909
Box-folder 6-112
Western State Hospital, history
Box-folder 6-113
Western State Hospital, list of urgent needs
Box-folder 6-114
Western State Hospital, miscellaneous
Box-folder 6-115
Box-folder 6-116
Woodrow Wilson
Box 7
5 pads with handwritten notes that appear to be drafts of hospital reports and notes from examinations of individuals in criminal legal cases
Box 8
Issues of the Virginia Medical Semi-Monthly (Richmond, Virginia), with articles by Dr. J.S. DeJarnette:
  • "Epilepsy" - 10 copies, (Oct. 12, 1906)
  • "Pellagra-The Corn Curse," (Nov. 26, 1909)
  • "Syphilis as a Cause of Insanity," (June 11, 1915)
Box 8
"Ole Virginny Yarns" issues have stories by Eva M. DeJarnette, (Jan. and Mar. 1893)
Box 8
"The Southern Literary Messenger" issues have articles by Eva Magruder DeJarnette, (May and June 1895)
Box 8
The Angelus Magazine," issues with stories by Eva M. DeJarnette, (June and July 1896)
Box 8
"Blue and Gray" magazine, story by Evelyn M. DeJarnette (E.M. DeJarnette was Joseph S. DeJarnette's sister), (April 1895)
Box 8
"McClure's Magazine", (November 1909)
Box 8
  • "Public Care and Treatment for the Epileptic" (5 copies)
  • "A Catechism of Christian Doctrine"
  • "Owens & Minor's Almanac for the Year 1907"
  • Pamphlet of reprints of medical articles, (1898)
  • "Report of the Trustees of the Alabama Insane Hospitals," 1912
Box 9
Box 10
Bankbooks, books of check stubs, and notebooks dated from 1889-1914 (list in box)
Box 11
Issues of Staunton newspapers dated from 1904 to 1913 (list of issues in box)
Box 12
Issues of regional newspapers dated from 1903 to 1913 (list of issues in box)
Box 13
Miscellaneous objects from trunk including ceramic pipe; Parke, Davis &Co. drug vial; playing cards; metal lock parts; wallet; etc.
Trunk, cloth-covered with DR. J.S. DEJARNETTE, STAUNTON VA stenciled on the side, dimensions 30" wide X 17.5" high X 17.5" deep