Sanitarium Leg and Arm Restraints – Circa 1920 – Atlas Safety Equip. Co. – Steer Leather and Steel

In 1903 the Battle Creek Sanitarium located in, of all places, Battle Creek MI, was under the direction of John Harvey Kellogg (the quack that brought us cornflakes) and was a prosaic campus devoted to vegetarianism, clean living and health. By 1922 the patients coming and going totaled over 7000 in a year and expansion was eminent. Then in the doldrums of the great depression, 1933, the company and its buildings went into receivership and changed hands to the Seventh Day Adventists Church. Where once fresh air and sunshine had been the order, now shock therapy and lobotomy headed the treatment list. It was just this type of restraint pictured that was used on Lou Reed in the 50’s to “shock the gay out of him” with EST, or that held down the desperately thrashing limbs of Francis Farmer as she allegedly headed to the oblivion of a trans-orbital lobotomy. When at last the hospital closed forever in the 70’s it had perhaps saved the lives of many, ruined the lives of some and left little but a horrible memory of a terrible time in the minds of its former charges. If leather and steel could talk we’d be drowned in a sea of horrified screams and woeful sobbing. Truly a remembrance of terrible things past and a hope for a better future for us all.