California’s protection & advocacy system

For legal assistance call 800-776-5746. For all other purposes call 916-504-5800 in Northern CA

or 213-213-8000 in Southern CA. TTY 800-719-5798.


California Memorial Project: Description

The California Memorial Project (CMP) is a collaboration of The California Network of Mental Health Clients, the Peer Self-Advocacy Units’ of Disability Rights California and People First of California. The mission of our project is to honor and restore dignity to individuals that lived and died in state hospitals and developmental centers.

The project is accomplishing this mission through three main goals:

1)   Restore cemeteries or graves where individuals from California State Institutions are buried
2)   Document the history of the client and consumer movement in California
3)   Preserve the history of individuals that lived in state institutions through collections of oral histories which tell the stories about living in an institution from a client’s perspective

Since the first California state institution opened in 1852, individuals including people with mental and developmental disabilities were taken out of the community and committed to these institutions for a variety of reasons, some of which would be considered unacceptable today. Over 45,000 people who died while living at a state institution were buried, often in mass or unmarked graves. In order to restore these cemeteries, the CMP is researching and collecting inventory of the names of individuals who died at State Hospitals and Developmental Centers and locations of where they were buried.

In addition to our main three goals, the CMP coordinates a Remembrance Day to honor and show respect to all people who have lived or died in a California State Institution. Remembrance Day Ceremonies are held annually throughout California on the third Monday of September.