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Timeline / Defining Rights and Responsibilities / 1866: Kamehameha V founds Hawaiian insane asylum

1866: Kamehameha V founds Hawaiian insane asylum

Across the U.S., interest is growing in caring for the mentally ill; asylums are opened in East Coast U.S. cities. Kamehameha V expands his interest in medical facilities by opening the O‘ahu Insane Asylum. At the Hawaiian asylum’s opening, 6 patients are transferred from the jail. Soon after, 62 others are admitted, 17 of whom will be treated, determined to be sane, and released.

The 1863 law passed by the Hawaiian legislature states: “A building is to be erected for the reception of insane persons. This facility will furnish restraint till the person becomes of sane mind or is discharged.”


O’ahu Insane Asylum, ca. 1870

Courtesy Hawai‘i State Archives