Posted Tuesday, July 17th, 2018
The Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital Oral History Project has launched its new website at www.greystoneoralhistory.com, with a goal of preserving recollections of the iconic state hospital and its remarkable campus, and to make those historical, first-hand accounts of Greystone accessible to the public.
Unlike other Greystone-themed websites and social media, this site offers a unique opportunity to hear the voices of the Greystone community sharing their personal memories of the hospital – a massive series of buildings on a sprawling campus in Parsippany and Morris Plains that housed many thousands of people over its more than 130 years of existence in Morris County.
First conceived in 1871 and known as the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum at Morristown, the institution first opened its doors in 1876. The original Greystone was demolished and a new, modern state hospital bearing the Greystone name sits on a hill above the original site.
Current highlights of the oral history project include interviews with folk singer and one-time Greystone resident Woody Guthrie’s daughter, former Governor and current state Sen. Governor Dick Codey, and John Huebner, who was president of the former Preserve Greystone organization. The goal is to add two or three new interviews each month.
The project manager, Stephanie Kip, is a retired Parsippany librarian. She also is the project manager of the Library of Congress Veteran’s Oral History Project in Parsippany, and a former program administrator in the Bellevue Hospital (NYC) Department of Psychiatry.
The oral history project serves as an extension of a panel discussion held on the first anniversary of the demolition of Greystone’s last and most iconic building, which until the construction of the Pentagon had the largest footprint of any building in the United States.
At the event, which was live-streamed to some 1,000 people, a need was expressed to retain memories of the preservation effort and patient care issues for posterity.
The oral history project expanded to include interviews about the nationwide history of psychiatric hospital architecture, the unique experience of growing up on the Greystone campus, the 30-plus-year state mandated monitoring of the hospital, media coverage throughout the years, family members’ roles in advocating for their loved ones, and Greystone’s role in the evolution of mental health treatment.
This project is part of an informal consortium of historical societies utilizing oral history to perpetuate the significance of former “Kirkbride Plan’’ of creating benevolent psychiatric hospitals.
Anyone with a connection to the former Greystone Park State Psychiatric Hospital and would be interested in doing an interview about their remembrances of Greystone should contact Stephanie Kip at [email protected] or 973-271-5549.