Elizabeth Packard was committed to the Illinois State Hospital (the state mental asylum) in 1860, and was kept under lock and key for three years, all the while protesting her sanity. While her husband, Theophilus, insisted to everyone – Elizabeth’s children, extended family, neighbors, friends, and the asylum employees – that she was, in fact, insane, Elizabeth was able to obtain her release. But her battle did not stop there. Conscious of the fact that the current law allowed married women to be placed in asylums by their husbands without the benefit of a formal trial or medical examination, Elizabeth started a campaign to change that unjust law.
Elizabeth struggled for years, alone in her quest, to shine a light on the unjust and misogynistic law. She spoke up not only for her own rights, but for those of the countless wives who had been relegated to asylums simply to silence them. Through Elizabeth’s perseverance, her voice was heard, and her plight was recognized.
Elizabeth Packard was the woman who would not be silenced.