History of the Mead Building

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English Language and Literature


My research features a chapter from my undergraduate thesis, conducted to meet graduation requirements for the University of South Dakota Honors Program. My thesis, titled "History of the South Dakota Human Services Center 1879 - 2019: Trials, Trends, and Tragedies to Transformation," reviews the history of the South Dakota Human Services Center (HSC). HSC is South Dakota's state psychiatric hospital, located in Yankton, South Dakota. My research includes multiple chapters with one focusing on the Mead Building, including the impact of Dr. Leonard C. Mead, 1856-1920. My poster analyzes the impact Dr. Mead had on HSC and mental health treatment across the nation. The Mead Building, located on the HSC campus, reflects the trends in mental health care throughout history. An architect turned administrator, Dr. Mead served HSC during 1891-1899 and 1901-1920, leading advancements in facilities and treatments. One-hundred years after Dr. Mead's death, his legacy lives on through his pioneering design of the building, his innovative treatment methods, and the current educational function of the Mead Building. In his designs and treatments, Dr. Mead incorporated the idea of architectural beauty to provide mental stimulation for patients. His implementation of early industrial therapy provided purpose and objective to the patients' daily lives. The Mead Cultural Education Center, a museum now located in the Mead Building, continues Dr. Mead's objective of educating others about the realities of mental illness. The history of the Mead Building reflects some of the trials, trends, tragedies, and triumphs sparking transformation in the treatment of mental illness. Dr. Mead's contributions continue through transformation for the community of Yankton, within the great state of South Dakota.

First Advisor

Benjamin Hagen

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