Dorothea Lynde Dix (April 4, 1802 – July 17, 1887) was an American advocate on behalf of the indigent mentally ill who, through a vigorous and sustained program of lobbying state legislatures and the United States Congress, created the first generation of American mental asylums. During the Civil War, she served as a Superintendent of Army Nurses.
Born in the town of Hampden, Maine, she grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, among her parents' relatives. She was the first child of three born to Joseph Dix and Mary Bigelow, who had deep ancestral roots in Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her mother suffered from poor health, thus she wasn't able to provide consistent support to her children. Her father was an itinerant bookseller and Methodist preacher. At the age of twelve, she and her two brothers were sent to their wealthy grandmother, Dorothea Lynde (married to Dr. Elijah Dix) in Boston to get away from her alcoholic parents and abusive fath