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Historians strongly associate the 1960s as marking the beginnings of radical changes in patients' orientation toward their rights. Yet the social and political context of the decades prior to the Second World War distinctly shaped the patient experience in much the same fashion that it gave form to the Civil Rights Movement. The patient struggle for autonomy at the US Public Health Service Hospital in Carville, Louisiana, in particular, must be located in the postwar period. Against the backdrop of how the institution was organized and administered from the 1920s to the 1930s, I focus in this paper on the conflict between patients and hospital administrators over control of institutional life in the 1950s. Their encounters exposed tension between Carville as home and as hospital. Given this focus, the patient challenge to the institutions, which reached a national audience, began to coalesce around the home in general and the kitchen in particular, mirroring the growing prominence of the political dimensions of suburban domesticity as a powerful democratic ideal. At Carville, the private "surburban" home represented freedom from the state.