IV. The Rise of the Institutions 1800 - 1950 D. Protect Society from the Deviant
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  • Around 1890, a large number of people from Eastern Europe immigrated to the United States. People with strange names, and different languages and customs settled on the east coast. These immigrants were willing to work hard for low wages, and posed a major economic threat. Anyone who looked or acted differently was feared.
  • In 1893, Walter E. Fernald, president of the American Association on Mental Deficiency, stated that institutional care was economical and conservative, not just charitable. According to Fernald, "each hundred dollars invested [in institutions] now saves a thousand [dollars] in the next generation." This served to financially justify the building of more institutions. In the late 1800s, the annual cost per resident in a state institution was between $150 and $200.
  • By 1900, one out of every seven Americans was foreign-born.
  • In 1913 the United States Public Health Service administered the newly invented Binet IQ test to immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. Professional researchers recorded that "79% of the Italians, 80% of the Hungarians, 83% of the Jews, and 87% of the Russians are feeble-minded." The validity of the test was not challenged and test results served to reinforce negative images of immigrants.
  • Around the turn of the century a xenophobic hysteria focused on racial minorities as well as persons with disabilities. Government-supported actions that excluded and segregated African Americans and persons with disabilities evoked, reinforced, and legitimated public and private prejudices.