For over a century, the graves of people who died at state institutions in Minnesota were marked with nothing more than numbers. Now, an effort is underway to recognize each by name.
Between 1866 and 1997, more than 13,000 Minnesotans died in the state’s 11 mental hospitals and were buried in graves marked only with a number — if they were marked at all. People could be institutionalized for almost any reason. Some struggled with mental illness, or a physical disability or substance abuse. Some had epilepsy, or were children with Down syndrome, or women suffering from postpartum depression. Orphaned children or pregnant mothers could be dropped off and remain there for the rest of their live