Dorothea Dix did more than anyone else of her generation to improve the lives of mentally ill people in America. In 1841, she volunteered to hold a devotional hour for women in the East Cambridge jail, and was aghast to discover that some of the tattered inmates were chained in a filthy, cold cell simply because they were mentally ill. Dix then devoted her life to improving conditions for the mentally ill. She travelled more than 30,000 miles over a three-year period to spur legislators into doing the right thing for the mentally ill. She became Superintendent of Female Nurses during the Civil War, and after the war, resumed travel throughout the United States and Europe on behalf of the mentally ill. By 1880, Dix had a direct hand in founding 32 of 123 mental hospitals in the country.