Kentucky Historical Society
Kentucky Historical Society Provides Research for The Narcotic Farm
Frankfort, KY (September 23, 2008)—The Narcotic Farm, a recently released book and accompanying documentary about a drug addiction treatment facility and research laboratory in Lexington, features research from The Lexington Narcotics Farm Collection in special collections at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort.
The book and the documentary, which will air in some markets on PBS, include rare and unpublished photographs, film stills, newspaper and magazine clippings, and other primary sources.
The Narcotic Farm, which operated under different names from 1935 to 1975, was located in Lexington on US 421 next to Masterson Station Park. The facility was authorized by Congress in 1929 as a hospital, a treatment center for addicts who were convicted of Federal offenses, and a research laboratory established to find a cure for drug addiction. Hospital construction began in 1933, and the site encompassed more than 1,000 acres. The campus could accommodate up to 1,200 patients.
Another hospital of its kind was authorized by Congress for establishment in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1929. The facility was open from 1938 to 1971.
Patients at the Lexington hospital underwent a treatment plan, which consisted of drug withdrawal, psychotherapy, athletics, recreation, and work. Each patient was assigned a job in maintenance, food service, laundry, sanitation, or farming.
The documentary, coproduced by J.P. Olsen and Luke Walden, and the book, cowritten by Dr. Nancy Campbell, Olsen, and Walden, both include research provided by the Lexington Narcotics Farm Collection at the Kentucky Historical Society.
The collection, donated by Sidney S. Louis, a former Narcotics Farm staff member, includes photographs, letters to facility staff, newspaper clippings, facility annual reports, and films. Louis donated the collection to the Kentucky Historical Society in 1998 to preserve the history of the first attempt by the Federal government to solve the problem of drug addiction.
Elements of the collection are available for viewing online through the Kentucky Historical Society’s digital collections at www.history.ky.gov. To view the collection in its entirety, visit the Special Collections reading room at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort. The room is open Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.