The 1963 Poor Farm and Asylum

Photographs by John Huston and Don Roberts




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In winter of 1963, three University of Iowa graduate students were assigned to do a project for their Introduction to Mass Media class. John Huston, Don Roberts, and another student agreed that their project would focus on a series of photographs that they would take at the local Johnson County Poor Farm and Asylum. At the time, John Huston's father was a professor of psychology at the University of Iowa and worked at the county home. Don Roberts is still a resident of Iowa City and John is currently living in Arizona.

The year after these photos were taken, these buidlings were demolished and a new care facility was erected. The new buildings developed in to the privatized care business that stands there today known as Chatham Oaks.

The photographs in this section are only of the patients allowed to live in the general care portion of the home. There are no photographs of the wing where the severely mentally-ill lived.

Please click the above links to view more photos and find out more information about the Poor Farm and Asylum that served Johnson County between the years 1886 and 1964.


For questions or comments, please contact Catherine Stewart