Calling for Submissions! Book About Byberry State Hospital, Philadelphia

Byberry State Hospital, PhiladelphiaThe research for this Byberry State Hospital book is going great. I’m collecting lots of information and learning SO MUCH. I didn’t even know Conscience Objectors did public service during WWII–I thought they escaped to Canada, a la Vietnam war–let alone know that thousands actually worked, for no pay, in the state mental hospitals.

However, the pictures are proving more difficult. I need 180 photographs for this book. So far I have digital copies and the rights (the rights are the time-consuming part of this process) to 21 photographs. See the frighteningly wide gap between them?

A lot of you have already kindly contacted me stating that you don’t know anything about Byberry and you don’t have any photographs. I’m asking that you spread the word so as many Philadelphia residents and former Philadelphia residents who know anything about Byberry hear about this call for submission.

Please post a link in your next blog post, tweet about it, press this post, spread this flier around the social media sites. Instead of printing it out and posting it on pin-up boards everywhere, (well, I am going to do that too), help post this flier in as many online places as possible.

I’m looking for pictures of staff members, patients (before, after, or during their time at Byberry), and photographs of the building itself. Maybe they’re photos of your parents, your grandparents, your aunts, and uncles. Try digging through your family photo albums and asking questions.

Maybe you’ll find out something you never even knew.

Everyone who contributes will get full credit in the book!

Please and thank you!


How I Got a Book Deal from My Blog!

Yes, you read that right. Officially, I, Hannah Karena Jones, am going to be a published author.

It’s not a blog to book deal in the traditional sense, like the way Postsecret, Julie & Julia, and Awkward Family Photos content became so popular a publisher begged the bloggers to put it in book form. No, The (Writer’s) Waiting Room will not be available on bookshelves near you any time soon.

Do you remember a few weeks back when I was encouraging readers to read local? I mentioned how I love locally-set history and fiction books in general and the Images of America series specifically, mostly because I found a picture of my dad in the Yardley, Pennsylvania book at Barnes & Nobles a few years after he died. You might have glossed over it, but I also mentioned that I think Byberry State Hospital–an abandoned institution near my childhood home, which has always piqued my curiosity–deserves its own book.

Well, an editor at Arcadia Publishing agreed. She happened to read that post and emailed me asking if I would be interested in submitting an official book proposal. Of course I was!

After I submitted the proposal, I was ready to wait a good long time to hear back–I’ve waited over a year just to get a rejection from small literary journals–but they approved it within a week! Byberry State Hospital (release date to be announced) will be a pictorial history and part of the ever popular Images of America series. I signed and mailed the contract a few days ago and now I have a deadline.

My entire book is due in November.
Yikes! [deep breath] I’m terrified not by the deadline, per se, but what that deadline means. In eight months, my huge lifelong dream of being published will come true (or, at least, will be closer to coming true. The book won’t appear on the shelves as soon as I turn in the materials, obviously).

This is where you all come in. I know a lot of you readers are from the Pennsylvania and local New Jersey area. If you have any family stories or photographs of Byberry buildings or Byberry staff in uniform up until it was closed in 1987, or know somebody who does (do you have a family member who was a nurse there? A doctor? A contentious objector? Did you grow up across the highway from the hospital?), I’d love for you to contact me! Feel free to send me an email at

This book will have a minimum of 180 photographs and I want to collect the greatest variety and most representative photographs I can. If you have a photograph you’d be willing to share (I would just need a scan of it, I wouldn’t keep the original print), you will, of course, get full credit in the published book.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!