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FEAR AND SUSPICION

Persons with disabilities became scapegoats during this period. Shifting the focus of the earlier theme of "protecting the deviant" from society, this era became less concerned with persons with disabilities, and more suspicious of people viewed as "different."

The number of people in public institutions continued to rise, averaging approximately 250 persons per institution in 1890 and over 500 per institution by 1905. In a relatively short time, practices regarding persons with disabilities had moved from compassionate education to segregation.

In 1900, there were about 10 private institutions for persons with disabilities; by 1923 that number increased to 80. These facilities were referred to as schools, farms, hospitals, institutes, and academies.

Industrial training at the Rome State School in  New York, ca. 1920
Industrial training at the
Rome State School
in New York, ca. 1920

WORSENING CONDITIONS

One example of a public institution for persons with disabilities was Rome State Custodial Asylum for Unteachable Idiots at Rome, New York. This institution opened in 1894 and provided basic care to persons with disabilities of all ages and both sexes, especially "low-grade" and delinquent cases. People left here were often judged to be the result of the moral failure of their parents.

Overcrowding of institutions worsened as the 20th century proceeded. People could spend their entire day in one room and often slept on the floor.

Industrial training at the Rome State School in New York, ca. 1920
Industrial training at the Rome State School in New York, ca. 1920