History of women’s life, both inside and outside mental hospitals, has become subject of great interest and study in last decades. This research is based on the study and analysis of female patients’ medical records and personal dossiers in Cremona mental hospital from 1868 to 1904. The author’s aim is to investigate the institutionalisation of the women’s madness in the second half of the 19th century and to highlight its characteristics and peculiarities. Patients’ medical records turn out to be a useful and important source showing how the institutionalisation of the women in the mental institution is a "choral" process. Indeed, a plurality of voices and views weave together within the process, creating and defining the female madness: the view of relatives and representative of religious and political institutions involved in mental hospital admission, the unheeded women’s voices bringing their own subjectivity, the alienists’ diagnoses and treatments. The author investigates these subjects, showing their role in different phases of institutionalisation process and tracking down different cultural references and different languages used to identify, understand, describe and show madness.
Keywords: Cremona, 19th century, mental hospitals, women, institutionalisation, medical records.