Two years ago, Illinois Times reported that readers of a new biography of Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard (1816-1897) were saying Andrew McFarland's name should be scrubbed from Springfield's mental health center. "Instead, the center should bear Packard's name for her efforts to change laws and patient treatments," wrote Mary Bohlen in her Nov. 11, 2021, IT review of The Woman They Could Not Silence, by Kate Moore (Sourcebooks, 2021). On Wednesday, thanks to Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace B. Hou and Gov. JB Pritzker, the name change took effect. In 1860, Packard was institutionalized against her will at the state Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville, where Andrew McFarland was the superintendent. In those days Illinois law allowed men to have their wives involuntarily committed, and Packard disagreed with her husband over religious doctrine, and on issues including women's rights and slavery. After her release from the asylum, Packard became a fierce advocate for the rights of women and psychiatric patients, while McFarland opposed her efforts. At the renaming ceremony, Gov. JB Prizker said: "Renaming this center in honor of Elizabeth Packard, who founded the Ani-Insane Asylum Society and pushed multiple states to reform their laws to better recognize the rights of mental health patients, is an important step in the right direction." – Fletcher Farrar, editor

About The Author

Fletcher Farrar

Fletcher Farrar is the editor of Illinois Times .

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